Eat Recipes

Red Lentil and Coconut Dhal with Fish

In our latest issue of ele Magazine, ‘The Food Lover’s Edition‘, we share recipes form Tom Walton’s new cookbook More Fish, More Veg. This Red Lentil and Coconut Dhal with Fish is one of our favourites.

Red Lentil and Coconut Dhal with Fish by Tom Walton

Dhal has to be one of my all-time favourite dishes. I love to top it with roast veggies or seafood to make it even heartier. Feel free to cook the dhal separately to the fish and serve it as part of a larger spread. For a plant-based version, serve it with some roasted cauliflower or eggplant (aubergine) instead of fish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut oil

4 sprigs fresh curry leaves

Sea salt flakes and ground black pepper

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

3 cm (1 ¼ inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped

2 tablespoons curry powder, plus 2 teaspoons extra

2 tomatoes, finely chopped, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)

2 cups (410 g) split red lentils

6 cups (1.5 litres) chicken or vegetable stock

1 x 400 ml (14 fl oz) can coconut milk

2 large handfuls roughly chopped kale or baby spinach leaves

400 g (14 oz) Spanish mackerel fillet, skin removed, or any other firm white-fleshed fish, such as ling or blue-eye trevalla

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 handfuls coriander (cilantro) leaves

Steamed basmati rice or naan bread, to serve (optional)


Heat the coconut oil in a large shallow ovenproof frying pan over medium–high heat. Add half the curry leaves and cook for around 2 minutes, until crisp and translucent. Transfer to a plate, lightly season with salt and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic and a good pinch of salt to the coconut oil and cook, stirring, for 4–5 minutes. Add the ginger, the remaining curry leaves, the 2 tablespoons of curry powder and the tomatoes and cook for 1 more minute, then add the lentils and stir through.

Pour the stock into the pan and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and creamy. Tip in three-quarters of the coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes, then add the kale or spinach and stir through until wilted.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).

In a shallow bowl, combine the fish with the extra curry powder, some salt, pepper and the olive oil, until coated. Nestle the fish in the dhal, transfer to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, until just cooked.

Remove the dhal from the oven, scatter with the coriander leaves and drizzle with the remaining coconut milk. Top with the fried curry leaves and serve with the steamed rice or naan, if desired.

Images and text from More Fish, More Veg by Tom Walton, photography by Rob Palmer. Murdoch Books RRP $39.99.