Empty Pantry Dhal

This recipe is an extract from One Mother to Another’s recipe book EATS. It’s a dhal that’s delicious, simple and easy to share.

Recipe by Jaquie Brown (adapted by Jax Hamilton)

One Mother to Another is a charity that provides gift bags to mums and carers who unexpectedly find themselves caring for their children in hospital. The gift bags are filled with items donated by many generous businesses, or bought with funds raised or donated to the organisation. In 2018, one way the charity raised money was by releasing a fundraising cookbook called EATS. It’s full of recipes from celebrity chefs, well-known Kiwis and local mums.

This Empty Pantry Dhal is a recipe given to TV presenter Jaquie Brown by a friend. When her friend was going through a hard time Brown made her friend’s family a hot meal. And then when Brown was going through a hard time herself, her friend made her this Dhal. It was so delicious Brown asked for the recipe and she now makes it pretty much every week.

What you need

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 1 litre vegetable stock (hot)
  • 1 tin brown lentils (drained well)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (or more to taste) 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tin coconut milk
  • bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

What to do

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil, then add the onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Cook, stirring, until the onion is so , fragrant and golden, about 8-10 minutes.
  2. Add the remaining spices and stir for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle in the split red lentils and half the stock. Stir well and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the brown lentils, tamari, tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to the boil then simmer, uncovered until the lentils are so (around 25 minutes).
  5. When cooked, remove from the heat and add 3⁄4 of the chopped coriander.

To serve

Garnish with the remaining chopped coriander and serve on boiled or coconut rice, or with a roti.


This dish is a delicious alternative to meat, and is gluten- free and vegan friendly. If you can resist and wait for the flavours to bloom, it’s exquisite the following day.

Learn more about One Mother to Another’s EATS cookbook

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