Red Lentil Dal

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on April 8, 2013

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Dal is one of my favorite one-pot meals.

It also happens to be a powerhouse of nutritional goodness, thanks to the wonderful little lentil that’s at the heart of every dal recipe.

With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. Lentils also have tons of fiber, folate, and minerals. When mixed with grains (such as rice), lentils become a complete protein dish, which means that the dish has all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for your dietary needs.

And as an added benefit, all that protein and fiber has super satiating properties that help you stay fuller longer!

They also taste great and have a wonderful texture :)

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This particular recipe is made with red lentils, which have a sweet and nutty flavor and cook pretty quickly: in about 30 minutes. I got the recipe from my friend who’s a chef at one of my favorite cafes, and I modified the spices and proportions to suit mine (and the husband’s) tastes.

It’s a warm and comforting dish full of those delicious aromas you’d find at your favorite Indian restaurant, minus all of the oil, fat and added unhealthiness that comes along with restaurant food.

The husband loved it, and I did as well! We served it with some brown rice and a salad, but you could also serve it with this cauliflower sabji and roti or naan.

The Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive, grapeseed or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1.25 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (or water)
  • One 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup  light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

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The Directions

Step 1: Mix the ginger garlic, curry powder, coriander, garam masala and crushed red pepper in small bowl and set aside.

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Step 2: Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add your oil, onions and celery and cook on medium high heat for about 2 minutes until vegetables are fragrant and translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

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Step 3: Turn down heat and add the ginger, garlic and spice mix and cook on low heat for about 1 minute, allowing the spices to “bloom” until they become fragrant. Add the lentils, vegetable stock, diced tomatoes and coconut milk.

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Step 4: Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft. If your heat is up too high, the liquid will evaporate before the lentils are done cooking. If that happens, just add a little bit more stock (or water, if you are using that) and continue to cook. When lentil are soft, turn off your heat and  add in your chopped cilantro. Adding cilantro at the end will keep the flavor lively and fresh.

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Step 5: Serve as a soup, or over brown rice with some steamed veggies, or with naan or roti! I chose to have ours as a “stew” over brown rice.

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It was so filling and tasty! I promise this dal is a crowd pleaser, and it also happens to be vegan and gluten free – so it really works for anyone.

This recipe makes about 8 HUGE servings, so if you end up with tons of leftovers, just know that the dal freezes really well – so you can always freeze it and save it for another night.

I highly recommend going back for seconds!

Red Lentil Dal

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 8 servings

Makes 8 servings. Nutritional Info Per Serving: 124 Calories, 2.5g Fat, 37mg Sodium, 19g Carbs, 7.7g Fiber, 4.7g Sugar, 6.1g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive, grapeseed or canola oil
  • 3/4 cup dry red lentils
  • 1 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1.25 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (or water)
  • One 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

  1. Mix the ginger garlic, curry powder, coriander, garam masala and crushed red pepper in small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add your oil, onions and celery and cook on medium high heat for about 2 minutes until vegetables are fragrant and translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  3. Turn down heat and add the ginger, garlic and spice mix and cook on low heat for about 1 minute, allowing the spices to “bloom” until they become fragrant. Add the lentils, vegetable stock, diced tomatoes and coconut milk.
  4. Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft. If your heat is up too high, the liquid will evaporate before the lentils are done cooking. If that happens, just add a little bit more stock (or water, if you are using that) and continue to cook. When lentil are soft, turn off your heat and add in your chopped cilantro. Adding cilantro at the end will keep the flavor lively and fresh.
  5. Serve as a soup, or over brown rice with some steamed veggies, or with naan or roti! I chose to have ours as a "stew" over brown rice.
http://pickyeaterblog.com/red-lentil-dal/

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Magdalen@FromHeartToTable April 9, 2013 at 7:43 am

I’m definitely with you on this one–dal is the best! Right now I like to make one with red lentils and farro, lots of spices, tomatoes, and carrots. It’s so convenient to make a huge pot at the beginning of the week and have it for lunch until it runs out.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

Oooh – adding farro to the dal sounds like a great idea! I bet that gives it a wonderful texture as well. Totally agree about making a huge pot at the beginning of the week – I could eat this recipe for leftovers for days!

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Ben Bisesi June 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

How do you add the farro? just cook it and spoon the dal over it?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

That’s what I would do Ben! I’d cook the farro separately, and then just combine the two in a bowl and eat!

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Maria Tadic April 9, 2013 at 5:51 pm

This looks good – I like that its thick and looks like it has some texture. I love the yellow dal, but sometimes I need a soup with a little more “ompf!”

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 11, 2013 at 7:03 am

Thank you so much Maria! I’m sure you will love this recipe!

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Michelle @ Simply Well with Michelle April 9, 2013 at 6:28 pm

I can’t wait to try this! I have only recently started cooking with lentils and am looking for some recipes. I used to eat Indian food quite a bit when I lived in NYC but really haven’t had it in years. I think it’s time to introduce it to the family! Thanks!
Simply well.
Michelle

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 11, 2013 at 7:03 am

Thanks Michelle! You’ll have to keep me posted on how it turns out and how your family likes it! :)

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Casey April 9, 2013 at 10:37 pm

This looks amazing – though the last time I cooked with lentils, it was an epic fail! I’ll definitely have to try again. Two questions: where do you find garam masala? I’m in the south Bay Area and don’t know where to look. Also, have you ever thought about putting up a healthy Palak Paneer recipe? I was craving some the other day so I looked on your blog… but noticed you don’t have a recipe! What am I to do? ;)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 11, 2013 at 7:06 am

Hi Casey! Yes definitely try again – I promise this recipe is super easy to make! Oh and to your questions: You can actually find garam masala at most major grocery stores, but if you don’t want to search around – just go to Whole Foods. They have it for sure. And yes!! Palak Paneer is one of the husband’s favorites and I have been trying to figure out a way to make a healthier version for a while. So stay tuned!! As soon as I finalize my recipe it will be posted :)

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Sarah April 10, 2013 at 1:25 am

Wow, lovely recipe. I use red lentils a lot these days but mainly as a thickener. I also use in a tomato and squash curry which is delicious. I will definitely make this Dal – never thought about using coconut milk with lentils – yummy!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 11, 2013 at 7:07 am

Oh interesting! I’ve never thought about using lentils as a thickener but that totally makes sense. What a great idea Sarah!

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Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health April 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm

I love lentil dal and want to make this for sure! Have you ever tried using other types of lentils or do you think that would change the flavor too much?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 11, 2013 at 7:08 am

Thanks Sarah! I think yellow lentils would probably work in this recipe, but I wouldn’t use some of the darker lentils — I think that would change the flavor too much. Hope that helps!

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dixya@food, pleasure, and health April 12, 2013 at 7:51 am

daal is my ultimate comfort food :) and love how red lentils cooks so quick

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 14, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Dal is totally comfort food for me too!! And yes! The quicker cooking lentils are my favorite :)

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Cookingpapa April 13, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Hi Anjali,

I see you use the crushed garlic from trader joes… I see it in the frozen food section and have wondered how it is. I prefer not buying crushed garlic, because most of the brands I’ve tried taste harsh, but it would be good to have some ready garlic when I’m in a hurry.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 14, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Hi! I actually love the crushed frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s. It is an incredible time saver and tastes just like fresh garlic in cooked dishes. I wouldn’t recommend it for any dishes that aren’t cooked through fully (e.g. for a salad dressing) – I’d just use fresh garlic for those. But for fully cooked dishes it works like a charm!

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Ashley Cook April 15, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I have never tried lentils before. I am kind of a picky eater and have a texture issue. Although this dish looks like it has a similar texture of oatmeal, I think that I am going to give it a try. I am always down to try new foods meals, and this looks like and easy and tasty one to start with. Thank you for sharing this!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 16, 2013 at 10:06 am

Hi Ashley! My husband has a texture issue too – so you are not alone :) And actually – I’d say that oatmeal has a much more “mushy” texture than this dal. It has a nice crunch and bite to it from the veggies in it – which gives it a more interesting texture. Let’s put it this way: oatmeal is too mushy for my husband, but he loved this dal. Let me know how it turns out for you and how you like it!

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Ong Zhi Zhong Sam April 16, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Heya Anjali,

Love your vege recipe, im gonna go go try it. Personally, I aint a fussy eater and is thankful for every meals on the dining table so having to go coupled with your recipe, it gonna add flavours to my vege dietary regime – prob progressively increase from once a week onwards. Thanks again =)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 17, 2013 at 7:17 am

Thanks so much! I’m so glad you like this recipe – you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!

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Rhianne April 17, 2013 at 6:59 pm

Being a vegetarian this blog was really interesting and informing for me. I never knew lentils had so many health benefits. I love how you gave the alternative of cauliflower instead of rice to have with the Red Lentil Dal. I was wondering if there were any meats that would go well with this dish? As my partner isn’t vegetarian.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hi Rhianne! I’m so glad you like my blog! And yes – lentils are really a wonderful superfood – they are one of my favorite legumes to have :) I think chicken (seasoned with Indian spices) would probably go well with this dal, so I’d recommend that! Hope that helps!

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Jess April 22, 2013 at 12:24 am

Hi Anjali,
Nice to meet you :)
This one is so inspiring and I love this one. Actually never tried this dish. Thanks for the share!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 24, 2013 at 12:09 am

Hi Jess! It’s nice to meet you too :) I’m so glad you like this recipe – you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!

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Lindsey June 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

Thanks for this recipe! I made a double recipe of it last night and omitted the red pepper and added a bit of chicken; served over basmati rice. My husband and I thought it was delicious. Our 12 month old son gobbled it up too which is why I left out the red pepper. Best part is we have plenty more for another meal this week! Will make again. Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Yay!! So happy to hear that Lindsey! Love the modifications you made – I bet it made it a really wholesome meal :) I’m glad your son liked it too!!

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Laurel June 4, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re working with? I’m planning to
start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a difficult time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for
something completely unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm

Hi Laurel! I use Wordpress and I love it! :)

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Komal Bangia June 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Made this yesterday.. What an amazing meal!! It was especially soothing and yummy with the weather being so cloudy and rainy (in East Bay).

Thank you for your recipes!

Komal

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Awesome!! You’re right this recipe is perfect for the weather we’re having in the Bay right now. What is up with the rain in June? So strange! :) So glad you liked this recipe Komal!

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Hayley July 9, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Wow this looks amazing defiantly something I will need to try, and with brown rice and steamed greens what a fantastic winter dish for the cool weather here in Australia.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater July 12, 2013 at 3:23 am

Thanks so much Hayley! Adding greens and rice would be perfect for this dish! Let me know how you like it! :)

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Sara February 15, 2014 at 8:07 pm

This is a really delicious (and easy!) recipe. I’m definitely adding to my regular rotation.

But I have to say, I don’t see how I could have gotten 8 HUGE portions from it. I got about four, eating it as a main course. Cutting that in half would have left me quite hungry! Obviously, different ideas of portion size for different people, but just wanted to flag that for others!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 18, 2014 at 2:59 pm

I’m so glad you liked this recipe Sara! Thanks for the note about the portion size — I think the husband and I always end up taking 2 servings (which would amount to 4 portions instead of 8) — but others have told me that the 8 portions is enough for them! Totally like you said – everyone’s preference for portions is different :)

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Zoesmom February 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I made this today and it is delicious!, this was my first ever lentil dish and it tuned out perfect. My dog could smell it cooking and was dying for a sample which is very unusual for her with a new ingredient. Thank you so much.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 19, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Oh that’s so great!! I’m so glad you liked it! :)

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Jenny March 22, 2014 at 2:49 am

hey Anjali,
loved your recipe and i will definitely try this….looks too delicious and yummy… thanks for sharing…

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Great! let me know how it turns out!

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Julia May 11, 2014 at 10:08 am

Yum! Since I was so amazed by your Mac’n’Cheese recipe, I’ve become really curious about your other recipes and even though I have never cooked with red lentils before, I noticed a bag of them sitting in my pantry, so I decided to give your Dal a go. This was one of the best vegetarian meals I made so far! I usually make turkey or chicken curry when I’m in the mood for Indian food, so this one was a revelation. Very hearty, very filling. I had some freshly made whole wheat garlic naan on the side. Next time, I might try adding a touch of fruitiness to it, like some mango chutney. Thanks for this recipe and greetings from Germany! :)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Oh awesome!! Serving it with whole wheat garlic naan sounds like a great idea. I think mango chutney would be delicious as well! So happy you’ve been enjoying my recipes — and it’s so cool that you’re in Germany! That is on my list of places to visit, although I haven’t made it out there yet :)

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Julia May 30, 2014 at 4:05 am

Hi Anjali, thanks for your kind reply! :) You should totally come to Germany (or Europe in general)! German cuisine is really good, but it’s often unhealthy – if you come visit one day, maybe you can “healthify” some German dishes :D Come to think of it, in Southern Germany, where I live, we also like our lentils. But they’re served with sausage and loads of noodles – nowhere near as nutritious as Dal ;)

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater June 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hehe that sounds great!! I’d love to visit Germany – and I’m sure I could figure out healthier versions of German food too! :)

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More Than Red May 28, 2014 at 7:06 am

Love dal dishes as well. This one looks excellent and easy to make.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater May 28, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Thanks so much! Enjoy!

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