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Tarka dal

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Chilli con carne generates 7.8 times more CO2e than tarka dal, and steak and chips generates 13.6 times more CO2e.

From Jack Monroe

Serves 4


  • 200 grams red lentils
  • 6 fat cloves of garlic
  • 2 onions
  • a small piece of fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon cumin (seeds or ground)
  • 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice
  • 200 grams canned tomatoes
  • 80 millilitres coconut cream
  • a handful of frozen spinach, around 100 grams
  • a pinch of chilli flakes to taste


  1. Rinse your lentils thoroughly under cold running water. Pop into a saucepan and cover with water, and bring to the boil. Reduce to a vigorous simmer for 20 minutes, carefully skimming away any scum that rises to the top with a spoon.
  2. Meanwhile, as your lentils cook, peel and finely chop your garlic, and peel and slice your onion, and grate or chop your ginger. Toss all of these into a pan with the oil and a pinch of salt, and cook on a medium heat to start to soften. Add the spices and stir well to toast them and release the flavour.
  3. When the lentils have started to soften and swell, drain them and rinse thoroughly to kick out any remaining scum (just not pleasant) and tip into the pan with the spiced garlic and onion. Add a cup of water, the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for around an hour, until the lentils have completely broken down to a soft, soupy texture. Add a cup of water at intervals to loosen it so it does not dry out. Add the greens towards the end to gently soften without overcooking.
  4. To serve, add a dash of lemon juice to sharpen and brighten it, and a pinch of chilli flakes to taste. And enjoy.
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