Suaree’s Red Lentil Dahl

Full of fibre, protein, iron, and vitamin B, lentils are inexpensive and make a great meat substitute or side dish. Your cupboards may not be swollen with these wonderful magic pulses but trust me, whanau, they are the shizz!

We have converted my land loving, steak swallowing tribe to this awesome, inexpensive mid week time saver. Get amongst this latest recipe and add some roast vege or meat protein to make a complete meal. We always use Mackenzie Lentils and a side of roast seasonal vege- whatever’s cheap!- and to keep it simple.  


  • 1 packet of Mckenzies Red Lentils
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Salt to taste


Step 1

Add the lentil, onion, turmeric,  and tomatoes to a saucepan and add enough water to just cover the lentils. Bring to the boil and simmer until lentils are soft, approximately 20 minutes. Add more water if required. Mash mixture and set aside.

Step 2

In a frypan, heat oil and add seasoning ingredients. Fry until the flavour releases and mustard seeds start popping, approximately 3 minutes. Add to lentil mix, stir and season if required.Cook another 10 minutes then service with a side of vege, or brown rice.  We put roasted potatoes, left over kumara and service it with a side of beans


1. Sort and rinse before cooking

Before you even start cooking lentils, it’s worth the extra few minutes to spread them out on some parchment paper or your counter. Pick through them and discard any rocks or small debris. You might not find any when you’re looking, but it will always be the one time that you don’t that you end up biting down on a small rock. After you’ve looked through them, transfer them to a strainer and give them a quick rinse. It’s one final way to know you’ve rinsed off any dust or debris that was hiding.

2. Skip the soak

Unlike other beans and legumes, lentils don’t need to be soaked before you cook them; they cook quickly without it. No matter what variety you choose, they’ll be done in 30 minutes or less.

3. Use the right pot and enough water

When lentils cook, they’ll at least double in size. Keep that in mind as you’re picking which pot to use. It’s better to use a pot that you think is oversized than one that’s not big enough. It’s also good to think of lentils more like pasta than rice. There’s no set ratio of water that’s required, but you do want plenty for the lentils to roll around in. At the very least, I like to use three cups of water for every cup of lentils.

4. Season after they’re done cooking

This goes against every instinct that I have as a culinary professional, but it truly makes a difference. This is one case that salt slows cooking slightly, so it will actually take you longer to cook the lentils when they’re seasoned. This is one reason you might wind up with tough lentils. Instead, cook them until tender and drain. Season to taste while they’re still warm.

5. Add flavor

Just because you can’t season with salt while cooking doesn’t mean you need to skip flavor. Try cooking them in stock or broth instead of water. If you don’t have stock on hand, add onion, carrots, celery, garlic cloves and/or herbs to the pot. All of these are mild flavors that can jump in any direction depending on how you’re going to use the cooked lentils.

Suaree’s Secret : Pick the best lentil for the dish.
There are heaps  of kinds of lentils, whanau, more than the typical green ones you see.  There are also brown, red, yellow, and black ones. By characteristics the brown, black, and green hold their shape well, so use them for side dishes, salads, and soups. Yummy and tummy filling. The red and yellow lentils have a slightly softer texture and they break down more easily, these are good for sauces, almost gravy like, and to thicken a soup. They are delicious, whanau, so get in to them and let us know what you think.