Dhal (Curry Lentil & Pea Soup)

This delicious curry soup, one of my favourites, is perfect cooking for a slow, chilly afternoon (like today was), because it will warm your kitchen and then your tummy. 

The recipe seems complicated, but it’s fairly easy to make – just time consuming. It’s a good thing to make on a weekend afternoon, when it can just cook away in the background while you do other stuff, like clean out a cupboard or lie on the couch reading a book and eating chocolate.  

It is worth making, real comfort food, with a nice hot curry bite in it to clear any lurking, left-over winter bugs.   

The soup is made in three parts, then everything is combined and simmered together for several hours until it is just so fragrant and delicious!

 1.  The Stock

I prefer beef stock for this recipe – fry 2 meaty soup bones until browned, add boiling water, and leave to boil. Skim off the scum as it rises, and don’t add seasoning or anything else at this point. Keep your kettle filled and boiled – you’ll need lots of boiling water for top-ups.

2.  The Peas and Lentils

1 cup each of yellow split peas (dhall), green lentils and brown lentils

  • Measure out the peas, sort through them and remove any bad bits, stones, sticks, etc.
  • Pour them into a colander, repeat the process with the lentils
  • Rinse all the legumes very well, place in a large pot (they will more than double in size), cover with boiling water and cook until they are just tender, skimming off the scum that accumulates on the top – there will be quite a bit
  • Remember to top up the water as needed
  • Don’t add salt to the cooking water, it makes the legume skins tough
  • Once just tender, pour the cooked lentils and peas into a colander, drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water
  • Set aside

3.  The Chutney

start with:

Oil for frying

2 large onions, chopped

mix together:

1 cinnamon stick

1 Tbsp jeera seeds (cumin)

5 elachi pods (cardamom)

2 star aniseed

5 cloves

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

small knob of ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 fresh chillies, seeds discarded and finely chopped

and mix these together:

1 tsp masala powder (curry powder)

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground turmeric

and you’ll also need: 

1 tin chopped tomatoes

1 tbsp ground jeera (cumin)

2 tbsp ground dhania (coriander)

salt and pepper

1 tsp sugar

  • Heat the oil in your largest pot
  • Fry the onions until they start to brown, then add the first mix of spices
  • Fry for a few minutes to draw the flavours out (your kitchen should start to smell wonderful!)
  • Add the second mix of spices and fry for no more than a minute, careful not to burn them. By now the kitchen will smell sensational! 
  • Add the tin of tomatoes, jeera, dhania (these 2 spices, in this ratio, thicken as well flavour the chutney), seasonings and sugar
  • Allow to simmer gently, adding a little water if needed


Combine everything

  •  Remove the soup meat and bones from the stock, dice the meat finely and discard the bones
  • Now add the lentils and peas to the chutney in the large pot, stir well
  • Then add the stock and meat
  • Leave the dhal to simmer gently for the 3 or 4 hours, adding more water as needed and stirring regularly so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom
  • Check the seasoning, add salt to taste


Serve with sweet bread rolls, or just on it’s own……..perfect for a cold evening!



16 responses to “Dhal (Curry Lentil & Pea Soup)

  1. Wow! AMAZING. I had never tried a dhal I’d loved before. I always liked them, this one (adapted) I love. I’m a convert, with all the evangelical zeal that implies. I used chickpeas, yellow split peas and french lentils (they were all I could get). Also used a vegetable stock instead of beef, as we are vegetarians. So nice with homemade Naan and sour cream (also not traditional). Was delish. Partner ate FOURTHS.


  2. Gorgeous – I adore lentils and curry so this is a big favourite with me. The chutney is gorgeous too and I love your (tin?) plates!


    • Thank you, Chica! Hope you’ll give it a try. The plates are enamel – I love enamel-ware, and have a selection of plates, bowls and a blue kettle, some of the stuff is really old. (I’ll have to do a ‘in my kitchen’ post) 🙂


  3. I love dhal, so I would imagine I would love this soup, saved for next cold snap or winter!


  4. That looks and sounds delicious – good food to warm you up!! It does take a lot of time to make though… perhaps I can do this over a couple of days!? 😉
    Have a lovely day – hope summer comes to visit again soon! xxxx


  5. sorry my friend, but I just cannot do Dhal! Have a great day xxx


  6. Oh that looks so good and you are right it does look like a lot of work, but I might just have a go, I will pop back up and see if I have everything no shops here to pop out to!! c


    • No shops nearby – I bet you are very organised! You’d have to keep a well-stocked grocery cupboard. The real indian flavours in this soup are so delicious, it’s worth making – I hope you have everything!! Although if you leave out one or two things it will still be delicious 🙂


  7. That dhal looks delicious, Zabwan – genuine Indian dhal.


  8. My husband could eat this every day 🙂


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