Dahl and rice for a Bluebird

When I began this blog seven odd months ago I had no intention of posting recipes, partly because there are so many truly amazing, dedicated blogs out there about food. Nonetheless the recipes began creeping in because, well because I love good, home-cooked food. It’s a part of who I am and this blog is me, in all my eccentricities.

So today dear friends I’m posting a recipe for da Bluebird!

My version of Dahl and Rice was inspired by an Anglo-Indian dish that my late mother-in-law used to make. I’ve fiddled with the original recipe so it’s not quite authentic but the family love it and so do family friends who cannot eat wheat products. But what is dahl?

The tiny red lentils pictured on the left are the heroes of this lentil stew with a mild, Indian flavour. Here in Australia you can find them in the dry bean section of  most supermarkets.

One of the things I love about red lentils [as distinct from their bigger, green and brown cousins] is that they do not need to be soaked before cooking. That makes dahl a fairly quick and easy meal to prepare when you don’t feel like eating a heavy meat meal. Or on those days when guests arrive out of the blue and the fridge is bare! [I keep red lentils in the pantry at all times!]

Ingredients [serves 4]

1 cup of dried red lentils

1 large brown onion chopped fine.

3 cloves of fresh garlic, mashed or chopped

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 generous teaspoon of ground cummin*

1/2 a teaspoon of ground tumeric*

pinch of salt

3 cups of water [or a mix of water and any left over chicken soup you may have in the freezer]

2-3 tablespoons of peanut oil [it goes better with asian style dishes than olive oil but use whatever you have].


1. Sometimes the quality of the red lentils varies so I always give them a quick check and remove any dark bits of grit that may have snuck in.

2. Gently sweat the onions and the garlic in the peanut oil until they are translucent and golden brown.

3. Add the cummin and tumeric and allow to cook gently for a minute so the onion mix becomes aromatic.

4. Mix the red lentils into the onion mix and allow them to braise for about 5 minutes to soak in the flavours. Stir frequently so they don’t burn!

5. Add the tomato paste, stir and allow to braise for another minute or two. Again don’t let it all burn!

6. Add the salt and the water/soup stock. Stir, bring to the boil and then lower heat and cook covered for about 10 minutes.

7. After 10 minutes check the lentils. They should have begun to swell and absorb the liquid. Add more water if the stew is starting to look thick. Keep cooking for another 10 minutes.

8. Total cooking time will vary but allow for about 1/2 an hour. You will know the stew is done when the lentils have almost disintegrated and the stew has a rich, orange colour and is about as thick as a bolognese sauce.  Remove from the heat.

Rice and accompaniments.

Cook about 1 1/2 cups of long grain rice. [I use the absorption method because I have a heavy, cast iron pot with a good lid but you should use whatever method you are comfortable with].

While the rice is cooking heat a frypan with some more peanut oil and crack 2 eggs – freerange of course 😉 – into a bowl. Beat the eggs lightly and then pour a small quantity into the hot pan, turning the pan quickly to spread the egg into a thin pancake. [Like making crepes].

When the first side is golden brown, flip and fry the other side for a few seconds. Remove from the pan and place on a chopping board. Repeat with the rest of the beaten egg until you have a number of flat, golden brown egg pancakes piled on the chopping board.

Cut the egg pancakes into thin strips and place in a small serving bowl.

To Serve

Place a serving of rice in a bowl, top with a generous ladle full of  the dahl and then sprinkle the strips of egg pancake on top. Add more salt to taste.

Bon appetit!

* If you are new to Indian spices add less to begin and then increase the quantities once your taste buds have adjusted.


About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

16 responses to “Dahl and rice for a Bluebird

  • Courtenay Bluebird

    I am going to make this this weekend! (And try to take pictures of it!) Oh, Meeka, you are so, so lovely! I am hugging you!

    I only need chicken stock and lentils. I’ve got everything else on hand!


    • Courtenay Bluebird

      Oh! And how did you know that dahl is my favorite soup and soup is my favorite food? (Lentils are the only bean I’m allowed to eat, now!) You are prescient, too! Yee!


      • acflory

        lmao – dance – I’m so chuffed! [pleased, happy, proud etc].

        Dahl and rice is one of our favourite dishes too. If you have a nice easy recipe you’d like to share I’m all ears. Almost all of my best loved recipes have come from other people rather than books. 🙂


        • Courtenay Bluebird

          My recipe was out of the Joy of Cooking— the first time, I added something, I think. The second time, I straight-up burned that sucker.

          I eat dahl a lot from one favorite local Indian restaurant. When my diet was restricted, legumes became off limit, but I was told I could have lentils. (And I love lentils, especially dahl. And I love soup! And I think you are so lovely, Meeks!)


          • acflory

            I love all sorts of lentils as well but dahl probably are my favourites.

            I’m hoping the quantities I put in the recipe are just right. Usually I cook by taste, smell and ‘feel’ so coming up with exact quantities required some thought! Please experiment to get it just the way you like it. I did 😀


          • Courtenay Bluebird

            I can’t wait! I’m going to try to make this yummy dish tomorrow! Yee! : )


    • acflory

      It’s richer with the chicken stock but you can make it with just plain water and you won’t notice a huge difference.

      Btw if you have a heavy pot for cooking rice try the absorption method but – use chicken stock instead of water AND gently braise the rice in butter for a few minutes before adding the stock. The butter and stock give the rice a whole new dimension that is soooo yummy.


      • Courtenay Bluebird

        I’ve never tried braising the rice in butter before adding the stock!

        I used to make roasted chicken, and then make stock from the bones and the leavings, and then freeze it.

        (Here’s a neat trick— when I would freeze the stock in a bag, I learned to lay the bag down in a baking dish in the freezer. It freezes in a square block. Clever, right?)


        • acflory

          Very clever! And then you can stack them. I once tried freezing stock in ice-cube trays but it didn’t work all that well. In hindsight I think you’d have to reduce the stock until it’s very rich for the ice-cube idea to work.

          Oh and I’ve done the roast chicken stock thing as well. You get a rich flavour that’s reminiscent of the brown stocks in my french cook book.


          • Courtenay Bluebird

            I love French cooking, but it is taking me forever to backtrack into studying French cooking. French cooking tends to be less starchy than other forms of cuisine, strangely enough!

            When I do stock, I wash a yellow onion w/ the skin on, cut it in half, and put it in w/ the liquid— it darkens the look and flavor of the stock, considerably!


  • lorddavidprosser

    Typical. Thinking of your stomach again.LOL


  • metan

    Sounds yum! Number 2 is allergic to eggs so might have to try it with a side of veg instead of the eggs. I have spent years learnin’ ’em up on spices so I will give it a go at full strength 😉
    Always looking for new (and easy!) things for dinner, thanks 🙂


    • acflory

      The only purpose of the egg pancake is to add a bit of crunch to the texture so perhaps some little shoestring chips? Or you can just serve the dahl on its own with rice. Hope they like it!


  • Candy

    Sounds delicious!
    Odd coincidence from another part of the world — I read your post right after I finished eating French green lentil salad for dinner. It’s summer here in New York so a salad dinner is nice. I think I’ll archive your recipe for a cold winter’s night and remember to get some red lentils. Yum…


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