All Recipes

Traybake lemon dal with pickled green chillies

Traybake dal portrait

Dal is a staple of our weeknight cooking. It’s the dinner I never get bored of. I have a few favourites I make on rotation: coconut, lemon and now this traybaked tomato one. The dal is made in the oven, so it’s very hands-off. The tinned tomatoes are roasted first to give a deeper hit of tomato flavour. Serve this with a pot of rice, some parathas, some salted yoghurt and chutney. Use paneer, or firm tofu.

More than an hour
Traybake dal portrait


For the dal

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 unwaxed lemons
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 green chillies, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons golden caster sugar
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • a small bunch of coriander (20g), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • a cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 300g split red lentils
  • 1 × 400ml tin coconut milk
  • 800ml hot vegetable stock
  • 250g firm tofu or paneer
  1. Crush the tomatoes

    Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan. Add 1 tablespoon coriander seeds and 2 teaspoons cumin seeds to a high-sided baking tray and toast in the oven for 2–4 minutes until fragrant, then remove and tip into a pestle and mortar and crush before returning to the tray. Drain 2 × 400g tins of tomatoes and add to the tray. Use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon/fork to crush the tomatoes to release their juice and flatten them a little, and spread them evenly over the tray.

  2. Add the flavourings and roast

    Drizzle over 2 tablespoons ghee or oil, then grate in the zest of 1 unwaxed lemon and 1 thumb of ginger and add 8 thinly sliced cloves of garlic. Toss the tomatoes in the spices and roast for 30 minutes until sticky and intensified in flavour.

  3. Make the quick pickle

    Put 2 sliced green chillies, 2 teaspoons golden caster sugar, 50ml white wine vinegar and a teaspoon of salt into a small bowl and mix well. Add the zest of a second unwaxed lemon. Stir through a small bunch of chopped coriander, stems and all. Put in the fridge to keep cool.

  4. Add the spices

    Once the tomatoes have had their time, remove them from the oven and stir in 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, a cinnamon stick, 1 table- spoon Kashmiri chilli powder and 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds. Put back in the oven for a minute or two to toast the spices.

  5. Add the lentils

    Take the tray out of the oven, add 300g split red lentils and pour over a 400ml tin coconut milk and 800ml hot vegetable stock. Cover tightly with foil and return to the oven for another 40 minutes.

  6. Add the paneer/tofu

    After 40 minutes, carefully take the tray out of the oven and remove the foil. Stir the dal, then season well with sea salt. Tear 250g firm tofu over the top of the dal, or dot the paneer over the top, and squeeze over the juice of the 2 zested lemons. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the edges of the tofu/paneer are beginning to turn golden, the dal is creamy and the lentils are soft.

  7. Finish with the chilli and serve

    Serve with rice, parathas, vegan yoghurt and chutney and the pickled chilli and coriander mixture. Will keep in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Additional information

As featured in

Easy Wins Cover

Easy Wins

Award-winning and bestselling cook Anna Jones gives her golden rules for easy wins in the kitchen with super-simple recipes that are bursting with flavour and kind to the planet.

Sign up to my Newsletter