The British Dal Festival with celebrity chefs and home-cooked food

This week, the first British Dal Festival kicks off in Bristol with events to celebrate the magic of dal – dishes based on split pulses – taking place across the city between Monday 19th and Sunday 25th March. 

The British Dal Festival will culminate in a Grand Dal Finale at Paintworks, Bristol on Sunday 25th March. Celebrate and feast on dal of all kinds, with dal-icious vibes and music to reflect the diversity, versatility and deliciousness of dal and the pulses that make it.

The British Dal Festival will celebrate the magic of traditional dals of the Indian subcontinent alongside other pulse dishes from around the world, from the refried beans of Mexico and fava dips of Greece to Britain’s pease pudding and mushy peas. The Festival will promote the cultural richness, flavour, and affordability of dal as well as its contribution to health, nutrition and environmental sustainability.  Dal can mean either any split pulse (lentil, bean or pea) as an ingredient or a stew or soup made from either split or whole pulses. In particular the Festival will highlight pulses grown in the UK such as fava beans and split yellow and green peas, all perfect ingredients for dal.

British Dal Festival Krishna DuttaThere are countless classic dals from across the Indian subcontinent, often named for their main pulse ingredient, such as chana dal, meaning split black chickpeas. Other names describe other ingredients or characteristics of the dish, for example dal makhani or “buttery dal”. Cuisines around the world have similar traditional dishes, from the refried beans of Mexico and fava dips of Greece to Britain’s pease pudding and mushy peas. 

Be inspired by dal experts, chefs and food writers including: 

• Pioneering chef Romy Gill of Romy’s Kitchen will cook a classic tarka dal.

• Cookery teacher and author Jenny Chandler will demonstrate the versatility of dal through three simple dishes, each using British pulses; 

• Founder of community organisation 91 Ways, Kalpna Woolf, will cook her mum's chana dal, a family favourite in Hindi households.

• Historian and author of the classic Dal Cookbook, Krishna Dutta will make massor dal; 

• Food for a Happy Gut author and River Cottage teacher Naomi Devlin, will cook up quinoa flour chapatis, a hungry gap chutney and a fermented pickle.

• Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods in Monmouthshire will make a wild Bedouin soup - a delicious lentil, onion and garlic soup crammed with seasonal herbs.

Children will find plenty to entertain them with dal cookery workshops led by Jenny Chandler; the chance to make a ‘man-dal-a', representing the universe with pulses; botanical art sessions; pulses from Britain and around the world to see, feel and guess where they're grown; face painting and a play area.British Dal Festival Romy Gill

The British Dal Festival will also crown Champion Dals and is inviting people to bring along their favourite dal dish to be judged by a team of experts and chefs. With categories for home cooks and professional cooks, the competition is open to dals of all kinds, from traditional dal to other soups or stews made with split or whole pulses. The dal will be judged on taste and presentation and winners announced on the day. Special commendations will be given to other entries of particular merit - e.g. from children or for using local ingredients.  

Fabulous street food vendors will provide a feast of dal and other pulse dishes from diverse global cuisines, including child-sized portions.  Vendors include Gopal’s Curry Shack with their signature buddha boxes of coconut, red lentil and chana dal, as well as Bombay Brrrrunch, Spice Box and Thali.  The bustling marketplace at the British Dal Festival will introduce a diverse range of businesses including British grain and pulse pioneers Hodmedod, Easy Bean, Hugo’s Greengrocer, Reena’s Rasoi and Ivors Ice Cream.


The Grand Dal Finale

Sunday 25 March,

Paintworks, Bath Road, Bristol, BS4 3EH

Tickets are available to book in advance for two sessions - morning (9.30am to 1.30pm) and afternoon (2.30pm to 6.30pm).

Advance tickets: £6.00.

Children under 16: Free

On the door (if available): £8 each (children free).

Full details and booking: 

Chefs Demos

10am Liz Knight

Liz of Forage Fine Foods in Monmouthshire turns the often intimidating world of foraging into a pleasurable pursuit, and shows you how to get the best from it in the kitchen. She’ll be making a wild Bedouin soup - a delicious lentil, onion and garlic soup crammed with seasonal herbs.

11am Jenny Chandler

Bristol-based cook, writer and teacher, Jenny Chandler, will demonstrate the versatility of dal through three simple dishes, each with a choice of garnishes and using British pulses. Jenny is author of the superb Pulse cook and a former UN pulse ambassador. 

12pm Kalpna Woolf

BBC Food & Farming Awards winner and founder of pioneering Bristol community organisation 91 Ways to Build a Global City, Kalpna will cook her mum's chana dal, a family favourite in Hindi households, tempered with roasted cumin seeds, health-giving turmeric and baby spinach.

3pm Romy Gill 

Romy is one of the few female Indian chef-patrons in the UK at Romy’s Kitchen in Thornbury, Bristol. Romy has also been a judge on the Chef’s Table in the Celebrity Masterchef finals and a resident cook for The Guardian.

4pm Naomi Devlin

Teacher at River Cottage and author of Food for a Happy Gut English, Naomi will be cooking up quinoa flour chapatis, a hungry gap chutney and a fermented pickle.

5pm Krishna Dutta

Historian and author of the classic The Dal Cookbook, Krishna will be demonstrating massor dal for beginners, a great way to introduce dal to the uninitiated.



The British Dal Festival will crown two Champion Dals from home cooks and professionals. This is your chance to show off your favourite dal dish whether it’s a traditional dal from the Indian sub-continent or any other soup or stew made with split or whole pulses. Special commendations will be given to other entries of particular merit - e.g. from children or for using local ingredients.

An expert panel of judges will judge each dish on its taste, aroma, texture, presentation and all-round dal-iciousness. Additional special commendations may be made for entries of high standard or special interest, such as the use of local ingredients.

To enter the competition, you will need to complete an application form via the British Dal Festival website by midnight on Wednesday 21st March and bring your entry along to the Grand Dal Finale on Sunday 25 March at Paintworks, Bristol, BS4.

Winners for each category will be announced on the day and presented with a silver bowl packed with British-grown pulses. Good luck!


Full rules and entry criteria are available on the British Dal Festival website: 




The British Dal Festival will offer many opportunities to share, enjoy, grow and learn about dal.


Dal Trail 19- 25 March across Bristol 

Running throughout the week take a Dal Trail around 20+ of Bristol’s restaurants and eateries including Thali, Bocabar, Windmill Hill City Farm, Cauldron, Pasta Loco, Pear Café, The Gallimaufry, Gopal's Curry Shack, River Cottage Canteen, Box E, Harts Bakery, Nutmeg, B Block, Poco, Birch, Spike Island Café, Folk House Café, Kookootoo, Watershed.

Please book directly with the cafes and restaurants taking part in the dal trail.


91 Ways celebrates the Magic of Dal 

Tuesday, March 20, 11:30 - 2.30

Malcolm X Community Centre,141 City Road Bristol

Share stories and eat dal dishes from Bristol’s many language communities at a lunch for women and children with community organisations 91 Ways and Refugee Women of Bristol.

Open to all women & children. Booking via Facebook Events: here >


It’s Dal-icious Lunch - Bristol Farmers’ & Producers’ Market

Wednesday 21 March 12:00 - 2:00 PM

Bristol Farmers & Producers Market, Corn Street Bristol

Who said there was no such thing as a free lunch? The Thali Cafe and 91 Ways will be cooking up a vast vat of dal for your enjoyment at one of the oldest farmers’ markets in the country. There’ll be the opportunity to buy fresh produce and pulses too, from award-winning pulse pioneers Hodmedod.

FREE market entry and dal - first come first served


Growing Dal with Incredible Edible

Thursday 22 March - 12.00 - 2.00 PM

Millenium Square, Canon Way, Bristol

Food growing organisation Incredible Edible will be planting lentils, peas and beans with local volunteers in Bristol's Millennium Square on Thursday 22nd March.

Through the 2018 season Incredible Edible will be growing dal on many of their sites across the city.


The Magic of Dal - Schools Pack

A free lesson plan for Key Stage 2 is available to download from our website.

The British Dal Festival provides the perfect opportunity to run a cooking workshop and cross-curricular lesson focusing on one of the world’s most economical, simple, nutritious and, above all, delicious dishes. 


Jenny Chandler, author of Pulse and United Nations European Pulse Ambassador in 2016, has created an educational pack, including the Magic of Dal Key Stage 2 Lesson Plan, Dal Images for Classroom Use and Dal Cooking Session Risk Assessment.


"Cooking dal is magical; a couple of handfuls of pulses cooked up with nothing more than water and a few spices delivers one of the most comforting, nutritious and economical dishes on earth.”  Jenny Chandler, author of Pulse and UN European Pulse Ambassador in 2016

About the British Edible Pulses Association’s (BEPA)

The Festival is an initiative of British Edible Pulses Association’s (BEPA).

BEPA is the trade association representing the processors and users of British-produced pulse (mainly combining peas and field beans) crops. BEPA’s key objectives are to liaise with UK government and other national and international associations, & encourage the consumption of home-produced pulses by promoting their value as healthy, high-protein and high-fibre foods, and to liaise with crop scientists and plant breeders.The BEPA Pulse Promotion Group’s aim is to continue the work done in 2016 during the UN Year of the Pulse to promote pulses and their benefits to the public.

Event Date: 
Monday, March 19, 2018 to Sunday, March 25, 2018
Event Location: 
Paintworks, Bristol

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