Recipe: Oven dal

I decided on Friday that I wanted to have a crack at that oven dal recipe I shared the other day on my list of pantry cooking. About halfway through, I informed Andrew that this was a good proof-of-concept experiment, to see if it worked, so that then I could teach him the recipe. And then I thought about the fact that I’d swapped out the garlic for roast garlic, swapped half the lentils for chickpeas, added a whole bunch of over-ripe tomatoes, skipped the coriander because we didn’t have any, used less liquid, and…

Yeah, I’m not saying that this is a completely original recipe, but it’s also not the original one any more, and since I liked the results quite a bit, it seemed worth writing down.

So here’s a good store-cupboard dal for anyone who wants a slight variation on the original.

Your shopping list (makes 6 pretty good sized servings)

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • olive oil – quite a bit, probably 1/4 cup or so
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ginger from a tube (yes, I really am that lazy)
  • 2 tbsp roasted garlic (from the freezer, in this instance, but I won’t tell if you want to use the stuff from a tube)
  • 500 g slightly overripe tomatoes, chopped (or use more tinned tomatoes later)
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 200 g red lentils
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained
  • 500 ml water
  • 1 x 400 g tin tomatoes
  • yes, salt and pepper would have been a good idea, wouldn’t they?

Now what will you do with it?

Preheat your oven to 180°C fan forced. Put the onion into a roasting tin or casserole dish (if you have one with a lid, all the better) with the cumin, coriander, turmeric and plenty of olive oil, and toss together. Roast for 10 minutes, or until the onions are beginning to soften.

Add the ginger, roasted garlic and chopped tomatoes, and return the tin to the oven for five minutes or so, to give the chopped tomatoes a chance to soften.

Add everything else, then cover your tray with foil or a lid, and bake for around 45 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and the dal is nice and mushy.

At this point, you might add salt, pepper, or more chilli, but this was pretty good without any of those things.

Serve with rice or over a baked potato or sweet potato; yoghurt or raita; and maybe a stir-fried green vegetable if you are feeling fancy. I like putting crispy shallots over the top, too.


This recipe is vegan, gluten-free, nut-free and low GI, but rubbish for the Foddies out there, sorry mates. You could definitely up the spice levels if you wanted – this was a tasty but fairly mild dal – and if you like your dal more soupy, then definitely add a bit more water (you can do this part way through, once you see the direction in which things are travelling).

I served this with stir-fried purple bok choi, and kept it very simple – a little canola oil, a little asafetida, and maybe half a teaspoon each of black mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and then when they were hot, I added the bok choi which had been cut into strips, and stir fried it until wilted. I suspect this would work with any reasonably firm leafy vegetable – i.e., not as soft as spinach or as hard as kale, but Chinese broccoli or any mustard greens you have lurking around would be great…

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