Empty Pantry Dhal

Recipe by Jaquie Brown

When Leo was first born he spent 2 days in NICU at Auckland Hospital. It was such a shock to the system having my first baby put in an incubator before I’d even held him, moments after giving birth. You are in such a fragile state and need support and care. Any friendly face that can say they know what you are going through, and offer a meal or a hug, is so valuable. I think what you are doing at One Mother To Another is wonderful.

What you need

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoons freshly grated turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (hot)
  • 1 tin brown lentils (drained well)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (or more to taste)
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • Bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

What to do

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Cook, stirring, until the onion is soft, fragrant and golden – about 8 – 10 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining spices and stir for 1 – 2 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the split red lentils and half the stock. Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the brown lentils, tamari, tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered until the lentils are soft (around 25 minutes).
  5. When cooked, remove from the heat and add ¾ of the chopped coriander.

To serve

  • Garnish with the remaining chopped coriander and serve on boiled or coconut rice, or with a roti.


  • This dish is a delicious alternative to meat, and is gluten free and vegan friendly. If you can resist and wait for the flavours to bloom, it’s exquisite the following day.