Easy Red Lentil Dahl

The double whammy of severe reflux and allergies is a tough gig for parents.

As a baby there were just two places Little Goat was comfortable - over a shoulder or in a wrap, but only if you were moving. Stew and I used to carry him around with a cloth draped over the shoulder he was on, covering as much clothing as possible, and a wet cloth over the other to try and catch the vomit. We couldn't believe the volume of milk that came out of such a small person. There were days I was convinced he was producing the stuff as far more seemed to come out than went in!

This is not the best topic for a food blog, but it’s a reality for so many parents!

dairy free dahl for picky eaters

I would walk purposefully nowhere for hours to get Little Goat to sleep in the wrap, but when he did eventually settle I'd head back home to very, very slowly make dinner so as not to wake the sleeping baby strapped to my chest. This recipe is one that works well for those sorts of days - but also continues to be useful as it's kid friendly and loaded with veggies. It's also very simple and forgiving so a sleep addled mind can put it together and you can sub out the vegetable ingredients that you definitely don't have time to pop out to the shops to pick up!

You can make this either on the stove top or in the slow cooker. These days I massively favour the slow cooker as with a busy toddler you can prep everything in the morning and then leave it to cook while you get on with your day.

Lentils are a great source of iron (among many other nutrients) and with this recipe I add in more vegetables than you find in a traditional dahl so it’s a fully balanced and delicious meal.

In the days before we were dairy free I would serve this with naan bread, but they contain dairy so these days I just serve it with some pita breads. It’s a great way to get picky eaters to try new foods as dipping is good fun and you can even make a dahl sandwich by putting some inside the pita. If you’re gluten free you can serve this with rice or you can just eat it as it is - it’s very satisfying just on its own.

This easy dahl recipe is also great for weaning - it’s a tasty (but messy!) experience for baby-led weaning or is a great one to try if you’re starting to introduce food with more texture after smooth purees.

I don’t put any chilli in the dahl as everyone in my household has differing ideas on what the right amount of heat is, so I just have hot sauce on the table and everyone can spice their own.

This is, like all the recipes on this site, dairy free and soy free, but it’s also vegan, gluten free and nut free, so it’s a great option for most families dealing with allergies.

Slow cooker dairy free dahl


Easy Red Lentil Dahl

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking time: ~30 minutes on the stove top or 4-8 hours in the slow cooker


  • 1 onion

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 2 peppers (red, orange or yellow)

  • 3 carrots

  • 200g red lentils

  • 2 cups passata (500ml)

  • 1 can coconut milk (400ml)

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon garam masala

  • Salt to taste (leave out for young kids and just add separately)

  • 1 lemon and coriander / cilantro to serve (optional)


  • Chop the onions and garlic and fry in a little bit of oil with the spices in a pot

  • Chop the carrots and peppers and add to the onions, fry for a few minutes

  • Wash the lentils well, then add to the pot

  • Add the passata, coconut milk and lemon juice

  • Bring to the boil then leave to simmer gently for 20 to 45 minutes

  • If it is starting to dry out you can add a bit of water

  • Top with coriander if using and serve with rice, pita or just on its own

Convenience Tip

  • Make this in the slow cooker! Just chop and add all the ingredients and leave it on low for anywhere between 4 and 8 hours (after 4 hours the lentils will still have a bit of bite, after 8 hours they will be very soft - Little Goat likes them this way).