A Buddhist’s lunch


It’s no secret the concept of a ‘Buddha Bowl’ is having a moment right now – and rightly so – a plant based grain bowl is the perfect meal. But what about Dhal? Have we overlooked the powerful pulse? 

Rachel Surgeoner

Dhal. Dal. Daal – however you prefer to spell it, is universally appreciated for it’s wholesome, nourishing properties. The humble pulse aids with all manner of health concerns, including helping to increase blood circulation – so when you’re feeling the chills of winter creeping in, it’s time to warm the chakras and put a pot of dhal on. 

The versatile lentil has a chameleon-like ability to meld with a bounty of different spices and vegetables. As a rule of thumb, always start with a base of onion, garlic and aromatic spices. 

If you’re new to the dhal game, here are a few pulsating suggestions to get you started: 

Masoor Dhal (red lentils) + tomato + sweet potato + cumin
Mung Dhal (yellow lentils) + lemon + spinach + ginger
Sabut Masoor Dhal (brown lentils) + fresh chili  + coriander

For our Buddha inspired lunch we took to the antioxidant rich mix of garlic, ginger and onion, adding anti-inflammatory turmeric and metabolising chilli. 

This idyllic vegetarian feast is best shared as a slow lunch or wintery dinner with friends and family. We topped our dhal with an umami-ful Sri Lankan style eschalot sambal, fresh avocado and cucumber salsa, plentiful market herbs and greens. All mopped up with a tried and true family recipe for chapatis slathered in ghee, and gently paired with locally made turmeric Jun tonic. 

Full recipe below:

Dhal & Sides Recipe



Buddha Dhal
• 1 cup masoor dal (red lentils), washed and drained
• 5 cups of hot water
• 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 1⁄2 teaspoon ground coriander
• 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne
• 2 teaspoons turmeric
• 2 cubes of vegetable or chicken stock
• 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
• 11⁄2 cups thinly sliced onions
• 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
• 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari
• Lime wedges

Seeni Sambol
• 1⁄4 cup of coconut oil
• 3 cups of thinly eshallots or sliced red onions
• 1⁄4 cup minced garlic
• 2 tablespoons of minced ginger
• 8 fresh curry leaves
• 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
• 3 anchovies or 1 teaspoon ground bonito flakes (optional)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
• 450mls of coconut milk (canned or fresh)
• 1⁄2 teaspoon brown sugar
• 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste

Side Salsa
• Fresh coriander sprigs
• Avocado
• 1 small red onion
• Cucumber
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Salt & Pepper to taste
• 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste


Buddha dhal
In a large saucepan heat your oil over a medium heat, add the coriander, cumin and cayenne and stir-fry until fragrant (about 20 seconds). Add turmeric, garlic, and onions and stir-fry until onions are soft and tender. Add your lentils, water, stock, soy and tamarind paste. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for twenty minutes, partially covered. Your dhal should now be soft and soupy. Stir in lime juice. Add salt to taste. 

Seeni Sambol
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the eshallots or onions, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring until golden brown. Lower the heat. Add the curry leaves, chilli powder, bonito flakes or anchovy (if using), cardamom, cinnamon, ground cloves and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the sambol is not sticking. You can let it gently bubble away for as long as you like, intensifying the flavour. When you take it off the heat, add in sugar, lime and salt to taste. Stir well. 

Serve atop your dhal and any leftovers will keep in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for a month. 

Side Salsa
Pick coriander leaves and wash and dry. Finely chop red onion. Peel and dice avocado and finely chop your cucumber. Combine in a bowl with lime juice, olive oil, combine and salt and pepper to taste.

Now enjoy your dhal, sambol and salsa as you wish!

We recommend serve with handmade roti bread, or store-brought flat breads in a pinch. 



Originally published in Paradiso Issue No. 04 >

FoodLila Theodoros