Not only is this a speedy supper, it’s derm and nutritionist approved

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Yes, we know it’s summer but there are only so many salads you can eat, right? This warming dahl recipe is ideal for those evenings when there’s a bit of a chill or damp in the air – with which, if you are UK based, you will be tiresomely familiar.

It comes courtesy of Dr Thivi Maruthappu, Britain’s only dual qualified consultant dermatologist and nutritionist. The London doctor has just published her first book, Skin: Your 4-Step Solution To Healthy, Happy Skin (Piatkus, £11.99), which unpicks the links between what we eat and the health of our skin. It’s packed with delicious, nutrient-packed dishes (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks) for optimal skin health. And, as someone with a busy job and three children, Thivi is big on quick options, which is music to our ears.

So, what’s cooking, Thivi? “My Soothing Sri Lankan Dahl recipe is a hug in a bowl, full of warming anti-inflammatory spices such as turmeric and ginger. We should all be aiming to eat more pulses and this recipe is an easy way to do that, Pulses contain protein and fibre, to support our skin and gut health. The kefir raita served alongside as a cooling accompaniment is loaded with gut-loving probiotics, supporting the gut-skin connection.”

Soothing Sri Lankan Dahl with Kefir Raita

Serves 4


  • 200g red lentils
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1-2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 small green chilli, halved
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 125ml full-fat coconut milk
  • brown rice or wholewheat chapatis, to serve

For the kefir raita

  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 350g kefir yoghurt or yoghurt of choice
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint or coriander leaves
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • For the tempered oil
  • 1 tbsp olive, avocado or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 50g cashew nuts
  • 5 curry leaves


  1. Rinse the lentils very well in water, draining and washing two to three times until the water runs clear.
  2. Put the lentils in a heavy-based saucepan and add 600 ml water, the spices, garlic, ginger, salt, onion and tomato, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 10–15 minutes until the water evaporates. Add the coconut milk and stir well to combine over a medium heat.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, you can prepare the raita by mixing together the ingredients in a small bowl.
  4. To make the tempered oil, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium-high heat, then add the spices and cook, stirring, for 2– 3minutes until aromatic. Finally, add the cashews and curry leaves (if using) and lightly brown. Pour the sizzling spice mix over the dhal and stir to combine. Serve with the raita, brown rice or wholewheat chapattis.

Skin Food (Piatkus, £11.99) by Dr Thivi Maruthappu is out now