Dahl – healthy, cheap and vegan

A friend of mine seems to think that veg*n food is more expensive than meat (you know who you are). I thought I’d challenge this with a series of posts on cheap and healthy vegan recipes. Here’s the first. I’m not exactly sure how much this costs but red lentils are not expensive. A 500gm packet of dried lentils costs me $2.45 and I can feed a family of four two times out of it.


1 ½ cups red lentils
2 cups water
1 can chopped tomatoes in juice (can use fresh tomatoes if you prefer)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
thumb-sized knob of ginger, grated
2 tsp sugar
1 – 1 ½ tbsp cider vinegar (could use any vinegar here though)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 ½ tsp Chinese 5 spice powder
1 tsp salt

Chop the onion and garlic (and ginger, if using) and cook gently in a splash of olive oil till beginning to go golden. Add the spices and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the water, salt, sugar, vinegar and washed lentils. Simmer till lentils are nearly cooked and liquid is reduced. Add the can of tomatoes and continue to simmer for a bit longer, until the dhal reaches the consistency you want. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. You can also add vegetables such as green beans or spinach towards the end. If you have fresh coriander, then add it now too.

Serve with rice and poppadoms.