Red Lentil Dhal

One of the first dishes I learned how to cook when I was in college was red lentil dhal. I was vegetarian then, absolutely broke and had just discovered a love for Indian food. I would cook up a big pot of dhal every time I had a craving for something spicy and warming. I have changed my recipe since I originally cooked it, using freshly toasted and ground spices and adding huge handfuls of fresh coriander at the end, but the simple joy in transforming a bag of red lentils into a satisfying meal remains.

The recipe for this dhal is quite straightforward and there is not a massive amount of prep involved. So many people seem to think that toasting and grinding your own spices is a bit of a faff, the couple of minutes of extra work is worth the effort. Of course, feel free to use ground spices if that is what you have handy. It is really important with this recipe to take the time to cook the onions slowly over a low heat.



1 tsp mustard seedsred lentil dhal, vegan, vegetarian, indian, curry, butternut squash, roasted butternut squash, spices,

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

1 red chilli, finely diced

1 tsp turmeric

250g red lentils, rinsed

600ml hot vegetable stock

salt & black pepper

1 tsp garam masala

handful of coriander leaves, chopped



1) Place the mustard, coriander and cumin seeds in a hot frying pan and toast for around 3 minutes. Grind with a pestle and mortar, and place to one side.

2) Heat the rapeseed oil in a medium saucepan/ saute pan/ casserole. Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes over a medium heat and then add the garlic, ginger and chilli. Cook for another 5 minutes until the onions are soft and golden. Add the spice mix from earlier along with the tumeric powder and allow to toast for a minute.

3) Add the lentils and stock to the pan, and season well. Bring to the boil and then leave to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the lentils have completely softened and broken down to a thick creamy consistency. Stir frequently to prevent the lentils from sticking to the pan and add more water if needed.

4) When cooked, add a teaspoon of garam masala to the dhal and stir through. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve with brown rice, pitta bread, naan bread or roasted butternut squash as above.

Sunday Summary 05.04.2015

Oops I forgot to update for ages with my training.

This week has been a great week for exercise. All the work I have put into creating a manageable and consistent training schedule is finally paying off. When I write it down, it actually seems like an awful lot of exercise (2 x runs, 3 x cycling to work, 3 x bodyweight/ kettlebell training, 1 x spin/ tag rugby/ climbing and 1 x yoga).

This week, I skipped on cycling to work as I just didn’t feel like it. While it’s good to have a plan and stick with it, it’s also important to listen to your body when it needs rest.

I ran a hilly 4.3km loop on Monday evening after work in 26 minutes and to be completely honest, it was a route I will not be using again. While I hate the idea that female runners should be on high alert just in case, this route felt really dodgy at night. My Saturday run was a 10km out and back route to the end of the Lee Fields, and it felt fantastic… well, a little painful but mostly fantastic.

Something I’ve been trying to do lately is work on my strength and flexibility to prevent injuries from running. 3 times a week, I’ve been doing workouts from BodBot for bodyweight and kettlebell exercises. I like it so far but will have to see how the plan progresses over the next few months. I’m still going to a weekly yoga class which is addressing some of my calf muscle tightness that has been plaguing me since January, but I really need to improve my stretching at home as well.

Apart from that, I started playing with a tag rugby league this week. I haven’t played team sports since I was 16, and thankfully have repressed most of my memories from PE in secondary school, but this was fun. We lost 27-4. I guess we can only get better!

Sunday Summary 01.03.2015

I was lying on the couch last Sunday far too tired to even contemplate updating my blog so you’re getting two for one this week!

Thanks to the calf niggle that I previously mentioned, I had to take a break for a few days and see the physio about it. Lots of stretching and a new pair of runners later, it seems to have settled down again.

I took part in Mayhem obstacle race in Cahir on Saturday last week. It was cold and muddy, and the greatest fun ever! The event was so well organised with loads of helpful marshals, and warm showers and hot tea afterwards. The obstacles were a fantastic mixture of streams, mud-pits and fun things to climb over. There’s another one in May and I will be there.


This week, I focused on settling into a routine- run on Monday, spin class on Wednesday and another run at the weekend, with some yoga and fun stuff thrown into the mix. I actually managed it- 3.4km at 5:20 pace on Monday and another 4.2km at 5:30 pace on Saturday. I got to spin class on Wednesday and used spd cycling shoes for the first time, it made such a difference to my pedaling power.

Apart from that, I had an awesome climbing session on Thursday night. I learned how to lead climb and made some advances on the difficulty of the routes I was climbing. Throw in my usual Sunday morning yoga class, and I think I can sign off on this week as a success.

Sunday Summary 15.02.2015

Two weeks worth of Sunday summary today! I was away on holidays since Friday so I didn’t get to update last week.

Last week, I got 2 runs in on Monday evening and Sunday morning. They were both 5km runs- Monday’s at 26:33 and Sunday’s at 28:39. I really struggled with Sunday’s run as it was really foggy and damp in Galway. That being said, both runs were under 30 minutes so I’m delighted with that!

I’ve also started a mid-week yoga practice at home to help with my sore legs. It is amazing how many yoga videos are on Youtube, so hopefully I will be able to work my way through them and find some good ones in the next few weeks.

I was away in Prague from Monday to Thursday, and planned to get a run in there but that didn’t work out as planned. We got loads of walking in though with our pedometers showing 20000 steps each day there, which I topped off with an hour of bouldering in Awesome Walls after we landed in Dublin.


Apart from that, I have been resting and using my foam roller as much as possible as my left calf muscle is giving me trouble for the last fortnight. I don’t think it’s anything serious, just annoying!

Hopefully this week, I’ll be able to settle back into a training routine and start training properly for the races that are coming up soon- Rockhard Adventure race in April and the Great Limerick Run in May.

Sunday Summary 01.02.2015

This week was a very lazy week. I was sore and tired, and in desperate need of some rest. Taking time to let my muscles recover is really important to me as I would rather do 3 or 4 good workouts in which I am able to push myself hard, rather than working out every day and not being able to put in my maximum effort.

On Tuesday night, I went for a quick run around Cork city centre. Strava lost the first 500 metres of my run but did manage to capture 4.5km at an average pace of 5:36m/km. Running is a struggle for me so I’m really pleased to see my pace picking up in the last 6 months.


Apart from that, I did a spin and weights class on Saturday morning. The spin class was fine but the weights class of kettlebells and body-weight exercises was really tough. I got through it somehow but my abs were killing me today.

I went to my usual Sunday morning yoga class and I now feel like I’m slowly making progress. I’m not very flexible but I have found yoga so helpful for preventing injuries and sorting out little niggles before they become a problem.

That’s it for January!

Sunday Summary 25.01.2015

This week has been a tough week on my body. I started the week with stiff legs from the spinathon last Saturday, and now I am ending the week with sore arms and shoulders.

As I was so wrecked after last Saturday and had skipped yoga on Sunday, I headed straight to the yoga studio after work. I was so exhausted, I nearly fell asleep twice in class but stretching out my muscles really helped. I also managed to head again this morning bright and early for a pre-brunch yoga class.


I didn’t manage to get to the gym for a spin class until Thursday. It was tough as my legs were still tired but even then, I found I was able to use a higher resistance for climbs and sprints than previous. I have been struggling with foot cramps during spin class so I’m going to try a different pair of runners to see if that helps.

On Saturday, after a long walk on Garretstown Strand, I headed to a climbing wall with some friends. I’m only new at climbing so I spent most of my time on easier routes on the bouldering walls and did some top rope climbing as well. I find climbing really difficult as I am so short and have to figure out routes and approach challenging moves differently that my taller friends do.

I’m quite sore and tired today after all that, even after loosening out some of my tight muscles in yoga this morning, so off to bed with me!

Sunday Summary 18.01.2015

Another week done!

I have spent the week doing what felt like endless hours of spin. I went to my usual gym on Monday and Wednesday for spin class in preparation for Saturday. Monday’s spin class went really well and I left feeling strong, but my legs felt so sluggish in class on Wednesday.

2 days of rest helped though, and I headed out to Blarney on Saturday morning for the Cycle Against Suicide Spinoff. Along with a 50km-ish cycle, they were also running a spinathon in conjunction with some local gyms.



I expected to struggle through the 3 hours, but I was pleasantly surprised to get through the 3 hours without too much trouble. Regardless of what aches and pains I felt on the spin bike; at least, I was inside out of the cold! The organisation of this event was fantastic. There was loads of water being handed out by volunteers and endless amounts of sandwiches afterwards!

I stuck around to listen to the mental health speakers afterwards, and it was amazing to listen to the stories of organisations and people involved. The message Cycle Against Suicide promotes is: “It’s okay not to be okay, and it’s absolutely okay to ask for help”, and this rings true in my own experience of dealing with depression.

After such a great week, next week will focus on getting some running and yoga in. I had to skip yoga this morning as my legs were so sore, so I will get a session in tomorrow after work. I’m also going to focus more on active recovery as well, using my foam roller and getting walks in on days when I am not exercising.


Sunday Summary 11.01.2015

I have decided that I am going to make myself far more accountable for my training by logging my weekly fitness activities here, and hopefully having to update every week will keep me going when I am struggling to motivate myself.

I did very little actual exercise this week. I was sick with a migraine for 2 days which knocked out my good intentions to run home from work twice this week… or to even make it into work at all. My usual Saturday morning weigh-in showed a gain of 2lbs, but that doesn’t worry me too much as I didn’t eat as well as normal either this week.

However I did sign up for a 3 hour spinathon on January 17th in support for the Blarney Cycle Against Suicide spinoff, and then went to spin class in order to prepare for the challenge. Oh jaysus, the pain. It is amazing how much more difficult spin feels compared to cycling, and everything hurt the next day. I fully expect 3 hours of spin to hurt like hell next week but it will be worth it!

spin class

I also rejoined yoga, and took an early Sunday morning class. The early start was quite a difference to my usual late lie-in and my muscles are so inflexible, but all the strength training I have been doing came in useful when I managed to do a Crow pose. Granted, I held the pose for 2 seconds and then collapsed onto my face, but still it was an achievement.

Next week is probably going to be all about signing up for races and spin class, and I’m really looking forward to getting my spin on to support a cause really close to my heart.

2014 round-up!

Oh hello! I have been very remiss about this blog for the last while. My laptop broke a few months ago and I just bought a replacement today.

Last year, I set myself several goals for the year. Perhaps I was far too optimistic about what I could achieve, but it gave me direction for the year and guided some of the choices.

I failed on many of my goals, due to lack of money/ time/ interest, but I did manage to achieve some of them or even just work on some of them. The resolutions I managed to fulfill may have been small but achieving them improved the quality of my life.

  • I read more than 52 books, often reading 3 books a week.
  • We moved to a warm apartment with no mould!
  • My hair is long now.
  • I’ve worked hard on my mental health and happiness.
  • I have managed my health as well as possible.
  • I got fit and active, ran a few races and am in good shape ending the year.

Even when I didn’t fully succeed, I still worked hard on something or did something which made me feel proud and that is worth the effort in itself.

  • I reigned in my spending and tried not to waste money.
  • I tried to be more organised at work and at home.
  • I attempted to keep in contact with more people.
  • I took up yoga for a brief while but lost interest after a while.
  • I ran more this year but didn’t really commit to a training schedule or regular running.
  • I bought a new camera body but didn’t do as much photography as I had hoped to do.
  • I started the year blogging regularly but lost my mojo by the summer.
  • I did loads of cooking but didn’t really challenge myself to learn more or try cooking many new dishes.

Even where I failed, I have learned many lessons. I overloaded my list and this year, I will be going for simpler resolutions. I might even choose words to guide me, rather than resolutions which become weighty when I fail to keep them.

Here’s to a great 2014, and an even better 2015!