It’s The Last Day Before Payday, You Have £1 Left, Here’s A Delicious Recipe You Can Make Tonight

Vegan food for next to nothing? Yes please


by Ava Szjana-Hopgood |
Published on

Ask me ten years ago what I thought about lentils and I would have scrunched up my nose and told you to do one. But this protein-packed legume doesn't have to be defined by socks and sandals and 1970s BBC sitcoms. By focusing on a few oft-neglected elements, you can update a vegan lentil dhal without any of your pals guessing it costs just £1 a head. Perfect for disguising the fact you spent all your money three weeks ago at that sample sale you fell into on the way home from work.

I've added cracked freekeh to rice for serving alongside the dhal, but there's other blends that will work just as well at sprucing up any boil-in-a-bag job- you could use some leftover wild rice, quinoa or pearl barley.

Vegan red lentil dhal with spiced soy yoghurt

Makes five portions


For the dhal

200g dry red lentils

470ml water


2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 onions, chopped small

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground coriander

1 red chili, chopped small

1 bay leaf

400g chopped tomatoes

Juice of 1 lime or lemon

Handful of chopped coriander

For the dhal topping

2 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

For the spiced soy yoghurt:

200ml unsweetened soy yoghurt

Zest of 1 lime or lemon

Salt and pepper

A sprinkle of the toasted seeds

Plus a blend of basmati, cracked freekeh, wild rice, quinoa or pearl barley to serve.

To start off the dhal, rinse the lentils in a metal sieve and pour into a medium saucepan. Add in the water and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for around 10 minutes until the lentils are soft.

While the lentils are cooking, heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan with the chopped onions and slowly fry for about 3 minutes until they begin to go translucent. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. Now add in the turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander and chopped chili, and cook for another 3 minutes until the spices become fragrant. Finally add in the bay leaf.

Once the lentils are cooked and the cooking water has reduced, transfer the onion and spice mix into the lentil saucepan and stir (hold back the saucepan as you will need this in a moment). Cook for another ten minutes on a medium heat, before adding in the tomatoes, lime juice and coriander. Check the seasoning and add in more salt or pepper if necessary.

The dhal will taste even better if it's given a few minutes to relax- so turn off the heat and prepare the yoghurt and toasted seeds for the dhal topping. In the frying pan used for cooking the onions and spices, gently heat the sesame and cumin seeds until they begin to toast. Once they go a dark brown, take off the heat. Sprinkle the majority over the dhal once it's ready to serve.

For the spiced soy yoghurt, spoon the yoghurt into a serving dish and top with the lime or lemon zest, a little seasoning and the rest of the toasted seeds. Serve up with the rice and dhal and the air of someone that can budget four weeks of a pay cheque, whether that's true or not!

Ava tweets at @guacandroll and blogs at

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us