Gluten free, refined sugar free

Dhal is a highly regarded meal in Ayurveda due to its gentle and soothing effect on our digestive system. It has been used in India as medicine for thousands of years, being the first food babies are given due to the gentle nourishment it gives to their delicate tummies.

This is my go to warm nourishing meal when I’m feeling like my digestive system needs a rest and my internal fire needs a boost!

Cooking time: 45 minutes


1 cup x chana dhal (split chickpeas) soaked overnight
1 cup x pumpkin chopped into little cubes
1 cup x sweet potato chopped into slightly bigger chunks
1 to 2 x zucchini sliced into half moons
2 handfuls x baby spinach
½ bunch x coriander (stems finely chopped and kept separate to leaves)
3 cm piece x ginger grated
½ x onion diced (optional)
Clove x garlic finely chopped (optional)
1 tsp x cumin seeds
1 tsp x coriander seeds
1 tsp x black mustard seeds
½ tsp x fennel seeds
½ tsp x fenugreek seeds
6 to 8 x fresh or dried curry leaves
2 tbsp x ghee
1 tsp x turmeric powder
1 tsp x coriander powder
1 tsp x cumin powder
½ tsp x asofetida found at Indian spice stores
1 to 2 tsp x good quality salt to taste
Pepper to taste
juice x 1/4 to ½ a lemon


  1. Rinse soaked chana dhal and add to a saucepan with 3 to 4 cups of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Cook on a simmer until the legumes are nice and tender or at least 30 mins. The legumes should have absorbed most of the water and have become nice and creamy
  3. Add the ghee to a reasonably deep fry pan on a high heat. Once hot add seeds and curry leaves and fry for a few seconds before adding ginger, onion, coriander stems and garlic.
  4. Saute for a few minutes, then turn down the heat a little and add the powdered spices. Continue to cook until the aromas from the spices come up.
  5. Add the pumpkin and sweet potato and stir through all the spices until well coated (a couple of mins). Then add 1/2 cup of water and pop the lid on to simmer for a few mins until the root vegetables are tender.
  6. Now add zucchini and continue to cook for another few minutes.
  7. Add the chana dhal into the mix along with the 2 handfuls of spinach, salt and pepper and lemon to taste.
  8. Keep cooking for a few more minutes to let the flavours mingle together and form a nice creamy texture.The pumpkin should be nice and soft by this time.
  9. Once the dhal is nice and creamy and the vegetables are tender, serve with your favourite grain and perhaps some sauteed greens, a dollop of coconut yoghurt, a few coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon.

If you find legumes hard to digest then, I recommend starting with split mung dhal or whole mung. These are the gentlest and most easiest legume to digest.

You may also like to experiment with different vegetables in your dhal!

About the Author

Annette Robinson (or Nettie as she is affectionately known) is an Ayurvedic Chef who gets joy out of helping others to experience the enhanced digestion, vitality and happiness that the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda has brought her. She has studied around the world and shares her knowledge through customised nutritional plans and guidance, lifestyle consulting and body treatments.

We are lucky enough to have Nettie cooking for us at Billabong Retreat regularly.

If you would like to know more about Nettie you can connect on Instagram or visit her website Om Sai Ayurveda.