This is one of my favourite dishes. I love the bright curried lentil sauce and the soft fragrance of the basmati rice. Together they’re addictively aromatic and one of the all-time great flavour combinations. Best of all, this dish is loaded with healthy goodness!

Yield: Serves 4


for the dal:
3 cups water
1 cup red lentils or yellow split peas
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
a sprinkle or two sea salt
1 jalapeno pepper, finely minced
a handful chopped cilantro
for the rice:
2 tablespoons Butter
1 onion, minced
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper


Make the dal first because the lentils take longer to cook than the rice. Place the water, lentils, onion, garlic, curry powder and salt in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Bring everything to a simmer over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to lowjust enough to maintain the simmer. Cover and continue cooking for 30 minutes or so.

While the dal cooks, make the basmati rice. Melt the butter in another small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until they just begin to turn golden brown. Add the rice and continue cooking for a few minutes longer, stirring constantly. This is known as the pilaf method, and it helps ensure that each finished rice grain will be tender and distinct.

Add the water and bring it to a simmer. Season the works, cover and cook over low heat until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes or so before serving.

After the dal has simmered for 30 minutes or so, remove the lid and stir. Continue simmering, partially covered, until the lentils break down into a thick purée, another 10 minutes or so. Taste and add a bit more salt if you like. Stir in the jalapeño pepper and cilantro and serve immediately over the basmati rice.


You may serve the dal over any type of rice; basmati is traditional in India. For even more authentic Indian flavour, try adding cumin seeds to the dal. Some cooks like to stir a few chopped tomatoes into the finished dal.