Simple Slow-Cooker Yellow Dal

by Anjali @ The Picky Eater on March 12, 2015

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“Dal” is an absolute staple in our house. It is pure and simple, Indian comfort food.

Essentially, it is spiced lentil stew. Rich, warm spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander fill my kitchen when I’m cooking dal. And the husband always loves it. Layla does too! She eats it up with no problems at all.

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You can make dal with just about any type of lentil. I like using yellow split peas – or “chana dal” because of their flavor and texture. But I’ve made dal with red lentils, small black lentils, even black eyed peas! You can use the same spice combo and switch out your legume and it still works great.

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I often serve it with some sort of “sabji” or stir-fried veggies with Indian spices, but oftentimes I’ll throw veggies like kale or sweet potato straight into the dal and eat it as a one-pot dish.

The best thing about this is – you can cook the lentils in the slow cooker, and just add in the spice mixture at the end, so your “active” time ends up being only 15 minutes! Or, if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can let it simmer on the stove for an hour or so and you’ll be good to go.

The Ingredients

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp salt

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The Directions

Step 1: Add the lentils, salt, and 3 cups of water to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.

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Step 2: When your lentils are close to done, heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add a couple cumin seeds to test out the heat of the oil. If they pop, the oil is ready to go! Add all of your cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let cook for 10-15 seconds (until the seeds pop). Then add your coriander, turmeric, cayenne, onion, tomato, and garlic, stir for 30 seconds, and turn the heat down to medium low. Let it cook until the onions become translucent and the tomatoes break down.

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Step 3: Add the onion/tomato/spice mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Top with cilantro and serve!

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How easy is that? Thanks to a slow cooker it literally is a 3 step process.

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This dal will warm you up from the inside out. It’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten free, and it is just about the tastiest healthy meal you will ever eat 🙂

Simple Slow-Cooker Yellow Dal

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 210 Calories

Fat per serving: 3.4g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 210 Calories, 3.4g Fat (2.9 Saturated), 581 mg Sodium, 31g Carbs, 13g Fiber, 4g Sugar, 13g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Add the lentils, salt, and 3 cups of water to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  2. When your lentils are close to done, heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add a couple cumin seeds to test out the heat of the oil. If they pop, the oil is ready to go! Add all of your cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let cook for 10-15 seconds (until the seeds pop). Then add your coriander, turmeric, cayenne, onion, tomato, and garlic, stir for 30 seconds, and turn the heat down to medium low. Let it cook until the onions become translucent and the tomatoes break down.
  3. Add the onion/tomato/spice mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Top with cilantro and serve!

Notes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

http://pickyeaterblog.com/simple-slow-cooker-yellow-dal/

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Anjana (At The Corner Of Happy And Harried) March 18, 2015 at 11:54 am

Hi,
I found your blog via the Polka Cafe article. You have a lovely blog and it’s absolutely amazing that you have an ecookbook!

Reply

Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 18, 2015 at 7:07 pm

Aw thank you so much! It’s so nice to meet you Anjana! 🙂

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Steve Puu March 20, 2015 at 5:49 pm

It looks so delicious. Thank for sharing. I’m going to try it now with tomato

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 20, 2015 at 6:25 pm

Awesome! And yes – tomato would taste great in this recipe! 🙂

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Shabnam March 28, 2015 at 9:25 pm

I agree. Dal is one of my favorites specially during winter time, it makes me comfortable.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater March 29, 2015 at 11:21 am

Yes! 🙂 It’s the perfect wintertime dish!

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roxanne April 1, 2015 at 8:22 am

From what I know Indian food is very delicious. This recipe looks delicious, which makes me want to try it!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 2, 2015 at 9:12 am

Thanks Roxanne, let me know how it turns out for you!

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Heather April 3, 2015 at 8:45 pm

Looks amazing! I wonder if I could simplify by using already prepared salsa? Thank you so much for sharing.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater April 7, 2015 at 10:11 am

Thanks Heather! I’m not sure the salsa would work in this — since typical prepared salsas have flavors like lime juice/etc. which wouldn’t work well with the Indian spices in this dal. Hope that helps!

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Srikant October 1, 2015 at 11:07 pm

Hey, thanks for this recipe. I was wondering if we can just add onions, tomatoes, and other spices in the slow cooker itself beforehand. I sometimes do that in pressure cooker and it comes out nice.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater October 2, 2015 at 10:31 am

Hi Srikant! Yes you can but I wouldn’t recommend it because the onions won’t caramelize like they do in a pot, and you won’t be able to “fry” the spices to make them “pop” in the slow cooker so the flavor will probably be different. Hope that helps!

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mona November 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm

HI Anjali!

This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing. My question is whether we need to soak the dal in water or can we just use it directly?

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 16, 2015 at 7:07 am

No problem! And nope! You don’t have to soak the dal before cooking it – one of the benefits of the slow cooker 🙂 But if you do soak the dal, it will cook faster. Hope that helps!

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Trina November 16, 2015 at 8:35 am

I love Dal but it gets eaten up fast in my house which is good and bad! Can I double up this recipe?

thank you.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 16, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Yes! You can absolutely make a double batch of this recipe – it works great and I do it all the time. Hope that helps!

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Trina November 16, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Thanks, I will definitely let you know as I have my slow cooker going now! I do have one more question – I do not have black mustard seed & a few postings have told me that I can substitute with horseradish? What do you think about that? Or do you have any other suggestions for a substitution?
Thanks!

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater November 16, 2015 at 6:10 pm

Hi Trina! I’m not sure how horseradish would taste in the place of black mustard seeds — I’d be hesitant to try that because horseradish has a very distinct flavor. Do you have yellow mustard seeds (or any other color mustard seeds?) because that would be a good replacement. Otherwise I’d just leave it out and increase the garlic/cumin seed slightly – like 1-2 more cloves garlic and 1/4 tsp more cumin seeds. Hope that helps!

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Karl January 29, 2016 at 12:13 pm

I was wondering what size slow cooker you used for this recipe, and just how large each serving is?

I’m looking to cultivate a little stable of slow cooker dal recipes, and would prefer to make around seven servings in a single go (I only have one day a week to devote to food prep/cooking) so I could easily double this recipe – if it’d fit in my three and a half quart slow cooker.

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 4, 2016 at 8:54 pm

Hi Karl! My slow cooker is a 6 quart cooker, so it actually has a lot more capacity if I wanted to make a double batch of this dal. Each serving for this recipe is about 1.5-2 cups. You can definitely double this recipe – I do that all the time and I end up freezing half of it to eat later in the week or a few weeks out! Hope that helps!

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Sara February 26, 2016 at 6:58 am

Hi,

Do you think if I cooked this on Medium heat I could leave it for 8-9 hours? I want to cook the lentils while I am at work but dont want them to burn for being in the cooker for too long on high

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Anjali @ The Picky Eater February 26, 2016 at 7:36 am

Hi Sara! If you’re going to be away for 8-9 hours I’d recommend cooking the lentils on low in the slow cooker. On low they’ll be done in about 8-10 hours, on high about 4-5 hours. Hope that helps!

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