This recipe features toor dal (yellow lentils), tomatoes, Malaysian meat curry powder and sambal oelek, a spicy paste made from chilli, shrimp paste and lemon juice. Serve your dhal with a stack of flaky roti canai for a delicious Malaysian feast.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (103 votes)


  • 240 g (1 cup) toor dal (yellow lentils), rinsed, drained (see Note)
  • 2 tomatoes, core removed
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) ghee or vegetable oil
  • 50 g Malaysian meat curry powder
  • 125 ml (½ cup) coconut milk

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Place lentils and 1.75 litres water in a pan and bring to the boil, skimming surface to remove scum. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer vigorously for 40 minutes or until lentils are soft.
Meanwhile, using a knife, score the base of tomatoes with a cross, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water. After 30 seconds, drain and refresh. Peel tomatoes, discard skins and roughly chop. Process with sambal oelek, garlic and onion in a food processor to a purée. Season with salt.

Heat ghee in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add tomato mixture and cook for 2 minutes, then add curry powder and stir for 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add coconut milk and lentil mixture, and stir to combine. Cook for 5 minutes for flavours to develop, then season with salt. Add more water, if desired.

• Toor dal, available from Indian food shops, breaks down most easily out of all yellow lentils.


Here's how to make your own roti canai!


Photography Anson Smart

As seen in Feast magazine, Sept 2011, Issue 1.