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Women’s Inclusive Team: uniting the Somali community through food

This tarka dahl recipe was created by Chef Zahra at Women’s Inclusive Team. Women’s Inclusive Team was founded as the Somali Integration Team in 2004 by five young Somali mothers. They established play and stay sessions for mothers and their toddlers twice a week in Mile End and Bethnal Green. In 2018, they changed their name to Women’s Inclusive Team to better reflect the diversity of their community and the people they are trying to help. The remit of WIT is to create a community where Black and ethnic minority women are happy, safe and valued.

WIT uses City Harvest free food to make up food parcels that are delivered to the community by volunteers, including a mix of cooked food and ingredients. On weekends, there is a celebratory eat-in atmosphere.

Chef Zahra works every day from 9-5 and always offers a pasta dish and a rice dish, from the ingredients delivered by City Harvest, with an extra offering of fresh fish if it comes in the delivery. Here is Chef Zahra’s delicious tarka dahl recipe for a surplus of dried lentils. 

City Harvest food charity delivering free surplus food to Women's Inclusive Team, Tower Hamlets

Tarka Dahl Recipe

For a surplus of dried lentils
tarka dahl recipe - city harvest food charity


(Feeds 4-6)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or oil of your choice), for frying
  • 1 large white onion, finely diced (leave about 1/6 un-cut for a fried onion topping)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely diced or minced
  • 2″ fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250g split yellow lentils 
  • 250g red lentils 
  • 1-2 potatoes (1 large or 2 medium), peeled and diced
  • 1/2 butternut squash or small pumpkin, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 500ml water


1. Heat the oil in medium-large pot.

2. Fry the diced onion, garlic and fresh ginger until soft, fragrant and translucent. Set some of your onion aside for later. 

3. Add the tomatoes and lentils and cover with water. Stew gently until the lentils are soft, then add the potatoes, pumpkin, and garam masala. season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Take the reserved onion and slice them fairly thin. Fry the slices in oil very slowly (perhaps 30 minutes, stirring frequently) until caramelised thoroughly. Set aside as the dahl cooks.

3. Before serving, pop the fried onion slices on top of the cooked lentils. Enjoy the dahl with rice or flatbread of your choice. 

A Taste Of City Harvest

A collection of recipes from the tables of City Harvest’s community of London charity partners, feeding those most in need.