Sri Lankan dal with coconut and lime kale

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Sri Lankan dal with coconut and lime kale

Serves 4 adults (or a family with several kids)

15 minutes prep time

30 minutes cooking on the hob

Super easy


Source: Adapted from Fresh India, Meera Sodha

Gluten-free: Yes (without optional pitta or naan to serve)

Dairy-free: Yes (without optional yoghurt to serve)

Vegan: Yes (as above)

This has to be an all time favourite recipe. Without the chillies it is something all the kids will eat and I have since made another batch for a weeks worth of lunches just for me. Delicious, filling, warming on a cold day and healthy. You should definitely give this one a try! 


  • Red lentils (450g)
  • Cardamon pods (3)
  • Cinnamon stick (1)
  • Whole cloves (3)
  • Brown onions (2 thinly sliced)
  • Garlic (4, crushed)
  • Ginger (2cm peeled and grated)
  • Green chillies (2 sliced, optional, we left these out)
  • Ground turmeric (1/3 tsp)
  • Kale (250g)
  • Tinned coconut milk (200ml)
  • Salt
  • Mustard seeds (1/2 tsp)
  • Desicated coconut (2 tbsp)
  • Lime (1 juiced)

To serve

  • Rice and plain yoghurt (we didn't bother with either)
  • Pitta or naan bread (if you are feeling extra hungry or to persuade the kids to eat it!)


  1. Wash the lentils in cold water until it runs clear then cover and leave to one side. Bash the cardamom until cracked. 
  2. Put some vegetable oil into a deep lidded saucepan over a medium heat and when hot add the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. Stir fry for a minute then add the onions. Cook for ten mins until the onions are browning and soft, stirring frequently, then add the garlic, ginger and chillies if using. Stir fry for a few more minutes then remove a third of the mixture and leave it to one side (leave this bit out if you're not planning to have the kale).
  3. Drain the lentils and add to the pan along with the turmeric and 1 litre of hot water. Bring to the boil then turn the heat right down and simmer for 20-25 mins until the lentils are soft and creamy. 
  4. In the meantime, if you want to include the kale, wash it and chop the leaves into 5cm strips getting rid of the thicker stems. 
  5. When the lentils are ready, add the coconut milk and 1 1/2 tsp of salt, cook for another 5 mins then take off the heat and cover to keep warm. 
  6. Put 1tbs vegetable oil into a frying pan over a medium heat and, when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they pop put the reserved onion mixture into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes, then add the kale and desiccated coconut. Stir fry for a minute, then add 50ml of water and put the lid on. Leave to steam for 4 minutes then add the lime juice and 1/2 tsp of salt and stir. Put the lid back on and steam for another 2 mins or until the kale is soft and tender. 
  7. To serve, put the dal into bowls, top with kale (and / or yoghurt) and either tuck in or eat with a side of bread or rice. Hmmm delicious. 
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