Kids’ healthy dish of the day - Rice and Dal

Author: Siobhan Martin  

“Mum, what’s for dinner?”

That’s the call that often goes up in my house around 5pm. Mr Five, Ms Seven, and Ms Nine are getting hungry.

 Well, if I answer: “Rice and dal!” that always gets a cheer.

Like most mothers, I’m continually having to think of ways to get healthy food into my children. It’s always a bonus if I land upon a recipe that they like, which is also healthy and easy.

That is the case with Rice and Dal, and I owe a debt to Indian cookery queen Madhur Jaffrey for the dal recipe.

Dal is a loose term used for lentils, in this case, the green ones. Lentils are a member of the legume family, and are rich in dietary fibre, which is particularly important for gut health.

The Australian government’s Eat for Health website recommends a maximum of five serves of vegetables or beans/legumes a day for young children. Thanks to seconds and thirds, my kids are well on the way to that when we have this for dinner.

It is a recipe that has also proved a hit with children other than my own. I enjoy cooking curries and, when I have friends and family over for dinner, often have one bubbling on the stove. However, the younger guests aren’t that fond of spice, so I put on a pot of dal. It complements the curry, and keeps all the kids happy. I’ve never seen a child turn it down.

The other great thing about it, is that it is a store cupboard staple. All you need are green lentils, which keep forever in the pantry, lemon, tomatoes and salt and garlic.

Best of all, you don’t have to have it with rice. Potatoes are great, or cut up carrot and cucumber sticks, mash the dal after cooking, and the kids can use it as a tasty dip.

Don’t be put off by the hour-long cooking time. Once it’s on the stove, it just bubbles away.




4 tbs vegetable oil

5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

225g tomatoes, finely chopped

185g dried, whole, green lentils

470 ml cold water

1 tsp salt

1 tbs lemon juice



Heat the oil in a heavy, wide saucepan, over a medium heat. When hot, put in the garlic and stir until it browns (this should happen quite quickly).

Put in the tomatoes, and stir and cook until they become a paste (about eight minutes).

Add the lentils and the water, bring to the boil.

Cover and lower the heat to simmer gently for one hour.

Remove from the heat and add the salt and lemon juice, stirring to mix.


Siobhan Martin is a former London journalist living on the Central Coast.

She is a long-time foodie, and thanks to her super healthy husband, now has an interest in exercise.

The slings and arrows of life have taught her to be more mindful, and pace herself. In view of this, she tries to exercise five times a week, but sometimes stays in bed. She also attempts to feed her three children as healthily as possible, but occasionally reverts to chicken nuggets. 

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