Recipe: Very Cheap & Easy Tarka Dhal

Tarka Dhal
Tarka Dhal

I absolutely love this recipe for several reasons. Firstly, not only is it really, really delicious, but it’s so ridiculously cheap that I feel justified eating out for dinner if I’ve had this for lunch (I was obviously never meant to live life as a student). Also, forget vegetarian – this dish is vegan! So super-healthy and a step towards eating a more sustainable diet. I eat so much meat after all… Finally, the dhal takes only 40 minutes to cook, most of which time you just have to keep an eye on a boiling pot. One-pot meal = one-pot to wash up.

All in all, this recipe is a gem.

I’ll give the recipe from the original book and my alterations in brackets.

Tarka Dhal

Taken from: Kris Dhillon – The New Curry Secret

Serves 4 (as a side) or 2 (as a main)
Cooking time: 35 – 40 mins


4 heaped tbsp split red lentils
425ml water (I find 375 is adequate. Add with caution – you can always add more)
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tomato, chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped (I used ‘lazy chillies’ in a jar – I add 1 tsp but this is very mild. Experiment to find your level)
1 level tsp salt (I don’t add this at all. Season to your taste)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (I use 2 tsp coriander paste – I think this also adds adequate salt)

Any vegetable you feel like adding. My mother recommends cauliflower. I add petit pois.


  1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly and place in pan with all ingredients, except the salt, garam masala, coriander and any extra vegetables. Be cautious with the water. Any extra veg thrown in later will add moisture.
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover the pan and simmer for a further 20 minutes, stirring two or three times.  10 – 15 minutes before the end, throw in any extra veg.
  3. Stir in garam masala and half the coriander. Season to taste.

Enjoy, whilst feeling smugly healthy and thrifty.

It's dinner time!
It’s dinner time!

Chicken and chorizo jambalaya

Chicken and chorizo jambalaya

A while ago I stole a delicious chorizo carbonara recipe off Jamie Oliver.

It left me thinking. What do you do if you have left over chorizo? Or what do you cook if you just really, really love chorizo? If you dream chorizo dreams on a daily basis?

Then, my memory stumbled across a simple, one-pot meal I’d seen on BBC Good Food for chicken and chorizo jambalaya. Easy and cheap to make. (Students take note!)

A plan was hatched. Ingredients were bought. A dish concocted.

This chicken and chorizo jambalaya is a hybrid between BBC Good Food’s recipe and Kitchen Geekery’s recipe.

Time: approx. 1 hour

Serves: 4, or keeps one student fed for a couple of days


  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Chorizo, as much as you desire (I used ~80g, but could’ve upped it to 100g)
  • 400g plum tomatoes (chopped are also fine)
  • 250g basmati/long grain rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp. chilli powder (optional / increase if you like things HOT)
  • 2 tsp. paprika (I only used 1 but 2 would have been better)
  • 1 tsp. cumin


  1. Fry the chicken until sealed. Remove and set aside.
  2. Fry the onion until it starts to soften.
  3. Add the chorizo, garlic, pepper, and the cajun seasoning, and fry for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rice, tomatoes, chicken,  chilli powder, paprika, cumin, and the chicken stock (ie. add everything else that you haven’t already added!)
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes or so, until the rice has cooked and soaked up the flavours. Your dish should be a beautiful yellow-orange, with flashes of red.

I personally found this dish to be greatly improved the next day. If anyone has any recommendations for an alternative recipe, let me know 🙂

Jamie’s Chorizo Carbonara

Jamie’s Chorizo Carbonara – Pheebz Eatz style

I was fortunate enough to receive an email from  Waterstones with a free recipe from Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals.

The phrase “15-Minute” made me very excited. The word “Chorizo” made me even more excited.

This recipe is great because it is almost that quick (I’m slow at chopping and don’t want to lose any digits…) and it’s cheap, and it’s mouthwatering, delicious and addictive. So addictive, in fact, that I’ve made it three times so far!

Here is the recipe with quantities adapted for one person, and a couple of additions/adaptations.  Enjoy!

Jamie’s Chorizo Carbonara (Pheebz Eatz style)
Serves 1 greedy person like me


Penne pasta

Chorizo (one large finger’s length)

Fresh red chilli (half)

Rosemary (one sprig)

Garlic (clove)

Red pepper (half)

Egg (one, medium-sized)

Yoghurt (natural fat-free, two tablespoons)

Lemon juice (one and a half tablespoons)

Manchego cheese (one finger)

Olive oil


  1. Boil a pan of water and start cooking the pasta.
  2. Chop the pepper and begin to fry in olive oil.
  3. Finely slice the chorizo. Finely chop the chilli and rosemary. Chop/crush garlic.
  4. When the pepper starts to soften, add the chorizo, chilli, rosemary, garlic and a good amount of black pepper, and fry until the chorizo starts to shrink. (Be careful not to burn the chorizo, but make sure it is cooked or it won’t release its wonderful flavour).
  5. Beat the egg, lemon juice and yoghurt together in a jug.
  6. Drain pasta and reserve a cup of the starchy water.
  7. Add pasta and the yoghurt mixture. Add the cooking water to loosen as necessary.
  8. Grate the manchego into the pan and mix until melted.
  9. Season to taste and serve.

The original recipe comes with a Catalan market salad, which is way beyond my budget as a student. However, some baby spinach leaves, cherry tomatoes and a little bit of manchego made a great accompaniment.

Scrummy side salad


I have moved to London. I still don’t have an oven. I am still unable to keep my place tidy, so I had a 7.20am panicked wake up on a Saturday to tidy up before my parents witnessed this:


But I am no longer dependent on the best cooks in the world AKA my parents to feed me (I may be slightly biased) or the survival canteen at my previous university.

So I’m learning to cook. Quick food. Cheap food. DELICIOUS FOOD. I am a student but there will be no compromise in taste. No excuses.

Watch out for upcoming London restaurant reviews and tips too!

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup
— BBC Good Food


This is a winning recipe from BBC Good Food – it’s easily made from items in the store cupboard and it’s so quick and easy even I couldn’t screw it up. (Note to self: do NOT turn hand blender on when it is not fully immersed in the soup).

It’s rich, filling, healthy and spice levels can be easily moderated with yoghurt. It fed me for 3 days. Students and busy people – get on it now!