"The beauty of writing recipes is that it’s a journey of discovery. It’s like meeting people through food; their tastes and culture come to life firstly on the page, and then on your tongue. As I wrote my book I got hungry and my biggest issue was spending too much time wanting to cook my discoveries. Inspiration and experience create new dishes. This recipe was inspired by the passion Michael had for the tempeh he made, along with his amazing ginger and turmeric. I also learnt that to ensure the tempeh sucks in as much flavour as possible, it’s best to freeze it first, this causes the cell wall to break and allow all the flavour of your marinade in." Peter Kuruvita, Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen






Skill level

Average: 4.7 (9 votes)


  • 2 x 250 g packets of tempeh, frozen overnight, then slowly defrosted over the day (see Note)
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut oil, for frying
  • 5 spring onions, shredded
  • 50 g Greek style yoghurt, to serve


Tempeh marinade

  • 2 knobs of ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 250 ml (1 cup) light soy sauce
  • 1 long red chilli, chopped
  • 150 ml mirin


Dhal soup

  • 110 g (½ cup) green lentils
  • 120 g (½ cup) chana dhal
  • 100 g (½ cup) red lentils
  • 2 tsp freshly grated turmeric or 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 100 ml virgin coconut oil
  • 5 dried whole chillies, split
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp dill seeds
  • ½ tsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp black cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp garam masala, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tsp salt 

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.


You will need to begin this recipe one day prior.

Marinating time 6 hours

Freezing time overnight

When the tempeh has defrosted, slice each block into 4 pieces, then cut it in half.

To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Add the tempeh, then cover and refrigerate for 6 hours.

To make the dhal soup, soak the green lentils and chana dhal together in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain and place in a fine sieve with the red lentils and rinse thoroughly under cold running water to remove the starch. Place in a large saucepan with the onion, garlic, turmeric and 1 litre water and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the lentils are soft and pulpy. 

Heat the coconut oil in a small heavy-based frying pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chillies and all the spices except the garam masala and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the chillies change colour. Stir in the garam masala and some liquid from the dhal and stir to combine well. Add the spice mix to the dhal, then cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until thickened and reduced. Season with salt. 

Meanwhile, heat the 500 ml (2 cups) coconut oil in a small heavy-based frying pan or wok to around 180˚C or drop a piece of bread into the oil and if it pops up to the top, the oil is hot. Working carefully, drop single pieces of tempeh into the hot oil, cooking quickly to seal the marinade inside.

Divide the dhal among bowls, and top with the tempeh, a sprinkling of spring onions, a dollop of yoghurt and a pinch of garam masala.



• Tempeh is a live culture that continues to grow until you halt it by freezing or cooking.


Photography by Dan Freene. Food preparation by Peter Kuruvita/ Cody Fahey.


Peter Kuruvita's Coastal Kitchen airs Thursdays at 8.30pm on SBS. Visit the program page for more details, recipes and guides.