Nigella Seed and Lime Dhal

Dhal literally translated means peas. Dhal is a dish is based on split pulses- mainly lentils.

It is a staple across the Indian sub-continent, and in any wise vegetarian’s home.

There are so many delicious variations to be made, depending on the pulses, spices and aromatics that are used.

This one is a particularly floral one, owing to the nigella seeds. This is not a quick dish to put together, but it is fairly simple, and it lends itself very well to batching and freezing; or for guests.

Prep time   15 mins         Cook time 1 hr                   serves    4



150g red split lentils

150 chana dal (split chickpea lentils, or yellow split peas)

500ml vegetable stock

400ml/tin coconut milk

1.5 tbsp neutral oil e.g. rapeseed

3 garlic cloves (peeled and finely chopped)

3cm fresh ginger (peeled and finely chopped) 2 green chillies (finely chopped)

2 small or 1 large red onion (peeled and finely chopped)

1.5tsp cumin seeds

1.5 tsp coriander seeds

1 to 1.5 limes juiced

2.5 tbsp coconut oil

1.5 tsp mustard seeds

3 tbsp nigella seeds


240g wholegrain/brown basmati rice

580ml water

Crispy Kale

150g curly kale (leaves picked from stem)

2tsp neutral oil (e.g. rapeseed)

1 tsp salt

  1. Rinse lentils thoroughly, then soak them for at least 2 hours, or ideally overnight, in a large saucepan.
  2. Now you’re ready to start cooking, prepare vegetable stock (500ml). Drain and rinse soaked lentils and return to the saucepan with the stock and the tin of coconut milk. Bring this to a simmer on a medium-low heat and allow to cook for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are soft, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the dhal is therefore thick.
  3. Whilst the lentils are cooking, work on the ‘temper’ (flavouring) for the dhal. Take a small frying pan and place on a medium heat. Dry toast the whole or crushed cumin and coriander seeds for 2 minutes, until aromatic. Remove and set aside in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add 1.5 tbsp of neutral oil to the pan you just used, and on a low heat cook the onion, garlic, ginger, and chilli for 10 minutes until soft. Remove this and add to the seeds set aside.
  5. Now turn that same pan up to a high heat and add 2.5 tbsp of coconut oil. Add the nigella and mustard seeds and cook for 2 minutes until aromatic. Set aside in the mixing bowl with the rest of your temper.
  6. Now for the rice, rinse the rice and add to a pan with a lid along with 580ml cold water. Cook the rice first on a medium-high heat with the lid off until most of the water has evaporated and you can see dimples in the rice (about 15 minutes). Now cover the pan and turn the heat down very low, allowing the remaining water to steam the rice to finish (about 7 minutes)
  7. Whilst the rice is cooking, prepare the kale. Preheat the oven to 120°C fan.
  8. Tear the kale into medium pieces and lay out the kale spaciously on 2 roasting trays. Then massage 1 tsp oil and ½ tsp salt into the kale in each of the roasting trays. Cook for 20 minutes, shaking mid-way. Then take out and leave to cool in trays to crisp up further.
  9. Now add the temper in the mixing bowl to the cooked lentils/dhal, along with the lime juice and about 1 tsp of salt, or salt to taste. Serve hot beside the rice with crispy kale on top.

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