This is my go-to vegan dish. I’ve been making variations on it for over 40 years. It’s cheap, easy, incredibly healthy, and really versatile.

Dhal the word actually means a pulse that has been skinned and split. We are familiar with green and yellow split peas, which are just the older versions of my favourite frozen baby peas.

You can get many varieties of pulses ready to cook  at your local Indian grocery. Chana Dhal is chickpeas that have been skinned and dried and have naturally split in two, Moong Dhal were once Moong beans, and Toor Dhal were once yellow pigeon peas. Without the skins, these wonderful pulses cook down to a creamy easily digestible power house of plant protein.

This recipe makes a Dhal that is both creamy and textured, making it very satisfying to eat.

It’s delicious main course dish served with raita, chutney & roti.

Add some extra water and a side of toast;, it is a wonderful soup.

Cold leftover dhal – delicious spread on hot toast for breakfast.

Rolled up in a freshly-toasted roti with salad and relish – that’s a great lunch.

The ideal ingredients I’ve listed will make the creamiest warmly spiced satisfying dhal you’ve ever eaten, but I’ve also listed alternative get-from-any-supermarket- ingredients in case there isn’t an Indian grocer in your neighbourhood.

This is going to make 10 litres of dhal! That is a LOT and this recipe is designed for a household with a freezer. You can half or quarter the recipe to suit your cooking vessel of choice. I have a 10-litre slow cooker, and I saute the veges and spice first then pile it all up in there. Before I got the slow cooker, I used to use split the mixture over 2 casserole dishes and put them in a low oven.

500g mixed dhal – I use 250g Chana Dhal, 125g Moong Dhal, 125g Toor Dhal.

You can also use a 50/50 mixture of yellow split peas and red lentils, which you can find in the soup section of your local supermarket,

500g pumpkin peeled and cut into 5cm chunks

(I steam the whole pumpkin unpeeled until I can stick a knife in it easily. When it’s cooled down it’s really easy to peel and dice. I freeze any extra diced pumpkin)

1 tin of crushed tomatoes

150mls Hakanoa Golden Latte Concentrate

the key things here are ginger and turmeric and a soft warm spice blend. If you are completely broke and can’t afford our lovely Golden Latte; 3 tbsps crushed ginger, 3 tbsps dried turmeric, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground allspice, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp black pepper

3 dried whole long red chillies.

I use these because they float on the top of the dhal and I can keep stirring and tasting and when it’s my perfect amount of spicy, I take them out. So easy! You can use any chilli flakes or powder you have,  1/2 tsp if you like it mild, 1 tsp medium, 1 1/2 tsps for a little bit spicy.

3 tsp black mustard seeds

3 tsp cumin seeds

2 onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, crushed

150mls vegetable oil

(optional) Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp

If you can’t eat garlic & onions, use this instead. Is the vegan equivalent of fish sauce – stinky but in tiny amounts very savoury. Use sparingly!

(optional) 2 to 6 cups mixed diced vegetables

If you have floppy carrots, sad celery, too many silverbeet stalks – this is your chance to use them up. Cut into 1cm dice so they disappear into the Dhal mixture.

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan, when it shimmers, add the cumin seeds first and stir, then the mustard seeds. The hot oil will make them pop and release their flavour. Add the onions and garlic and saute until fragrant, then add your finely diced vegetables and saute until soft. Stir in 150mls Hakanoa Golden Latte concentrate (or add the dried spices listed and saute for another 5 mins)

2. Put the sauted mixture in your large baking dish or slow cooker. Add the pumpkin, the dhal mixture, the tinned tomatoes, and enough water to cover them all, and stir well. Put the whole chillies in here if that’s what you are using. Put in an oven at 150c or the low setting on your cooker. Stir every 1/2 hour, and top up the water if necessary. After 2 hours, taste to see if all your dhal has cooked through. Mine takes 2 hours in the oven and 4 hours in the slow cooker.

3. Once cooked, add salt to taste. I don’t add any salt to the Dhal that I am freezing, as I reckon salt somehow disappears in the freezer and then you have to add it again after defrosting anyway.