Quest for the perfect – dhal recipe

Another one of my long running quests is the search for the perfect dhal. Perhaps a bit shamefully, my favourite to date has been from one of those all you can eat, buffet style Indian ‘restaurants’ – so creamy, spicy and delicious. But how to replicate this at home? All of my previous efforts had been too soupy – I like my dhal thick, and stew-like – ready to be scooped onto waiting papadums.

When the nights turned cold again, I wanted something spicy and comforting. Time to add another contender to the quest for the perfect dhal recipe.

I think this time I got closer than ever before, especially in terms of texture. This dhal was definitely ‘healthier’ than what you would get if eating out – a lot less oily, and more of a fresh tomato flavour. I also added some kale to get some greens into the meal, which was a great addition – the robust nature of kale can stand up to quite a lot of cooking and so worked well.

Dhal in progress - clearly I lack the ability to cook small servings!

Dhal in progress – clearly I lack the ability to cook small servings!

Red Lentil Dhal 

(adapted from ‘Red lentil dhal with spinach’)

1 cup dried red lentils, washed and drained

1 cup chickpeas or kidney beans (I used canned because I had them; feel free to use dry, or omit altogether)

a decent shake of cumin

1 tbsp turmeric

1 red chilli + a few shakes chilli powder (adjust to taste)

1 tbsp sunflower, or other vegetable oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

400g canned chopped tomatoes + 4 finely chopped fresh tomatoes (again, the fresh tomatoes can be omitted; I wanted to use some up!)

1 tsp caster sugar

150g kale (or baby spinach)

rice, papadums, naan bread, chutney to serve (if desired).

Let’s Cook!

1. Rinse the lentils. Once rinsed, put into a saucepan, cover with water and simmer for 5 minutes, or until soft. Drain.

2. Put the rice on to steam. In a large frypan, add oil and spices, with onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions soften.

3. Add the tomatoes, sugar and drained lentils, and other beans if using. Simmer for 15 minutes, adding kale about 5 minutes from end. Stir regularly to ensure it isn’t sticking – add water if needed.

4. Once everything is tender, serve with rice and other goodies if desired.

warming winter goodness

warming winter goodness

Finally a dhal I can feel good about eating! This hit the spot, but I have a feeling the quest for the ultimate dhal will continue until I can replicate the unhealthy oily version… but for now this is a good start 🙂




Passionfruit Butter Cake

Today I am starting #blogjune – a month of updating my blog every day for a month. I’m really looking forward to seeing what other bloggers come up with, and reading some thought provoking, witty and insightful stuff.

I’m not sure if this post is any of these, but I am easing myself in slowly.

May and June seem to be the months of birthdays, and as such, I find myself quite poor when it came to my Dad’s birthday today. Being notoriously hard to buy for anyway, a home made birthday cake seemed like a good way to at least acknowledge the day, and spend some time with him devouring it! Luckily, when I asked what type of cake he would like he opted for passionfruit, which I have been receiving weekly in our vegie box, so I was very happy to have a new way to incorporate passionfruit.

Here is what I came up with, to Dad’s specifications – a plain cake, with passionfruit icing. I ended up using two different recipes from – one for the cake and one for the icing.

Passionfruit Butter Cake

125g butter, melted

300g (2 cups) self raising flour

1/3 cup butter milk (or a mixture of yoghurt and milk)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

220g (1 cup) caster sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest


125g cream cheese

50g butter, softened

3/4 cup icing sugar

4 passionfruit

1. Wiz ingredients together until smooth.

1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees. Mix ingredients together, and pour into a loaf tin, lined with baking paper. Bake for 45-50 mins, or until centre is cooked through.

2. When the cake has cooled, ice with icing (obviously!) and refrigerate to set before serving with tea or coffee.

Hopefully, you will end up with something that looks better than this, but tastes just as good!