Curried dahl soup


Preparation info

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By Peter Kuruvita

Published 2009

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This is not the traditional dahl curry that we had at my grandmother’s house, but it is the one we always use at home and in the restaurant. It is probably closer to an Indian dahl soup you would get with a Thali meal in southern India or northern Sri Lanka.


  • 250 g (9 oz/1 cup) red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 long dried red chillies
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 vine-ripened tomato, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 cm (2 in) piece ginger, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 50 g ( oz) ghee
  • 1 sprig fresh curry leaves, leaves picked
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds


Place the lentils, turmeric, chillies, onion, tomato and 1.25 litres (44 fl oz/5 cups) water in a saucepan, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 15 minutes or until the lentils are tender and beginning to break up.

Meanwhile, place the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds in a mortar and pound with a pestle until a paste forms.

Heat the ghee in a small heavy-based frying pan over low–medium heat, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds and the spice paste and cook for 4 minutes or just until the seeds begin to pop and the mixture starts to brown. Pour the spice mixture into the lentil mixture, combine well and simmer for 4 minutes, then season to taste with salt.