A delicious dal with its roots in the West Country

A delicious dal with its roots in the West Country

Gay Darke, resident nutritionist at Love Food Festival and the Bristol Farmers’ and Producers’ market on Corn Street, shares with us her go-to comfort food: healthy and warming West Country Red Lentil Dal.

Lentils are a heart healthy low cost ingredient, rammed with minerals (especially molybdenum) , B vitamins and polyphenols – low calorie and a great source of fibre. Sage is a good source of Vitamin K, and contains lots of anti-inflammatory flavonoids. It’s also antimicrobial and great for the immune system, which is what we all need during flu season!

As the name also suggests, sage has been shown to improve cognitive function and recall. Onions, garlic and black pepper also have well known fantastic health giving properties, and cider…well you’re boiling off the alcohol, it adds loads of flavour, and if you’re using the good stuff, it does contain beneficial antioxidants and yeasts. If you’re using bone stock, you’ll be getting bonus nutrition that’s great for gut health, joints and skin too.

Perfect comfort food for body and soul!”


250g red lentils (best soaked for a few hours and rinsed if you have time)

1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
a bunch of sage
salt & black pepper
25g coconut oil, butter or duck fat for fry
500ml stock – chicken or vegetable
500ml medium dry cider without additives


I use a pressure cooker because it turns dal into a super quick convenient healthy supper, but you can use a large heavy pot and go slow!

Melt the fat, and fry a few sage leaves – set aside for later
Finely chop and fry the onion until translucent
Crush the garlic, add to the pan
Add lots of black pepper and a small pinch of salt
Add the lentils, give it all a stir to coat them
Finely slice the sage leaves and add to the pot
Pour in all the cider and stock
10 mins on full pressure, then allow steam to release slowly

Check seasoning, and if you like your dal a little thinner, add more stock. Top with your crisped sage and serve with garlic mushrooms and purple sprouting broccoli from the Farmers Market – and maybe a venison sausage or two!