Quick cupboard dahl

For when you have no fresh food in the house, or no time to cook some. Makes about 8 portions if it’s all you are eating – more if you cook up some rice as well.

The nori counts as a leafy green vegetable and the peas and coconut add flavour and texture as well as fibre.

This recipe can be adapted using different spices and techniques from other dahls as you please, and can be flavoured with Indian spices, SE Asian, S American or European – experiment away depending on what you fancy.


2 large cups red lentils

2 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoon quality vegetable stock powder (or two veg stock cubes)

½ cup dessicated coconut

¼ cup dried onion (optional)

2 teaspoon dried garlic (optional)

½-1 cup dried green peas (the dried fresh peas, not split peas)

2 sheets nori (the seaweed that goes round sushi)

1 can chopped tomatoes (optional)

6 cups water (plus more if needed)


  1. Place the lentils, coconut, spices, onion, garlic and stock in a large microwave safe bowl.
  2. Add the water
  3. Cook in the microwave on high for 10 mins.
  4. Meanwhile chop the nori into 1cm (approx.) pieces. (Use scissors, chop into strips and then cut across the strips to make small squares or rectangles)
  5. After the first cook, stir the lentils and mix in the peas, nori and tomatoes (if using). Add more water if it’s really thick. (You are looking for a thick soup consistency).
  6. Cook again in the microwave on high for 10 mins.
  7. Stir again, add more water and cook a little longer if needed. The lentils should be slightly broken down and fluffy. (All microwaves differ in how long they take).


To make this for one person, use ¼ cup lentils, ½-1 cup water and scale all the other ingredients down appropriately. It will cook slightly quicker – maybe 12 mins in total, so do 2, six minute cook times.


Change the spices around for different flavour combinations.

When it is just cooked, place 1 -2 teaspoon oil in a small pan with a lid. Heat until really hot, then add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, (or 2 teaspoon panch poran), 20 curry leaves and 2 whole dried red chillies. Cook for about a minute until the mustard seeds stop popping. (Watch as they tend to burn). Then stir this into the dahl.

Add any vegetables you have in the fridge….steam or stir fry them while the lentils are cooking and then either have them on the side or mix in.

Add a bunch of chopped coriander at the midway point.

Add 1-2 teaspoon garam masala at the very end and stir well.

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