Tarka dal with chickpea and chilli rice

No Hindu festival is complete without India’s take on soul food

  • PREP
    10 minutes
  • COOK
    35 minutes


  • 350g dried red split lentils, washed and drained
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh root ginger
  • 1 aubergine, cut into small cubes
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 200g baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • Low-calorie cooking spray
  • 2 tsp each of cumin seeds and black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander

For the chickpea and chilli rice:

  • 350g dried basmati rice, rinsed
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped


  1. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. Stir in the chickpeas and chillies halfway through the cooking time. Drain and keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, put the lentils, turmeric, ginger and 1.25 litres of water in a large pan, stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, skimming off any froth and stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the aubergine, tomatoes and spinach and cook for another 12-15 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Spray a small frying pan with low-calorie cooking spray and place over a medium-high heat. Add the cumin and mustard seeds. As soon as they start to pop, add the ground spices and garlic, stir and cook for 1 minute. Add these spices to the lentil mixture.
  5. Return the mixture to the heat, season and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the coriander and serve immediately with the chickpea and chilli rice.

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