I’m SO excited to share an incredible, flavorful, super nourishing new recipe with you from my friend Samah of Dada Eats‘ new cookbook, Dada Eats: Love to Cook It. Before we dive in, let me just say this cookbook is absolutely amazing. It’s filled with 100 all vegetarian recipes that focus on real ingredients, whole foods and anti-inflammatories. Her twists on classic comfort food and staple Indian recipes are ones you’ll want to share with everyone.
I chose her best ever dal recipe because, like Samah, I’m a huge fan of cooking with legumes (and this curried pumpkin lentil soup is one of my favs). It’s my first time cooking traditional dal and I’m truly in love. Samah put it best in her cookbook, “It’s energizing and light, while remaining both grounding and comforting.” The flavors warm you from the inside out and it’s such a satisfying meal.
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What is dal?
Dal is not only an ingredient, but it’s also a traditional, plant-based Indian dish. As an ingredient, dal refers to a split version of legumes like lentils, chickpeas, etc. As a recipe, dal is made by simmering together yellow or red split lentils with warming spices and often coconut milk, tomatoes and broth to create a lovely, super-nutritious meal with a stew-like consistency.
Samah’s best ever dal recipe is hearty, packed with 15g of protein and over 10g of fiber, and is absolutely delicious.
Everything you’ll need to make this dal recipe
One of the best parts about making dal from scratch is that it uses tons of pantry staples! It’s easy to make for the perfect weeknight dinner. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Lentils: the base of this dal recipe is made with yellow moong dal or red split lentils — whichever you can find.
- Produce: you’ll need onion, garlic and fresh ginger to give the dal lovely flavor. You’ll also be mixing in some fresh spinach later in the cooking process, plus some fresh lemon juice for a little brightness.
- Spices: these super cozy spices are the star of the show. You’ll need ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, and plenty of salt and pepper.
- For the broth: you’ll be simmering the lentils in a little tomato paste, diced or crushed tomatoes, coconut milk, and vegetable broth.
- To garnish: top your bowl with fresh cilantro leaves!
What to serve with dal
Creamy and delicious dal is even better served with:
How to make homemade dal
- Prep your lentils. Start by rinsing your lentils a few times until the water runs clear. Then cover them with fresh water and soak them for about 30 minutes to an hour.
- Sauté the onions. Next you’ll want to sauté the onions in olive oil for a few minutes until they’re tender. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook until slightly browned.
- Add spices. Stir in all of those cozy spices and cook everything for a few minutes until it darkens and smells aromatic.
- Add tomatoes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook it for a couple of minutes, then pour in the crushed tomatoes and cook for a few minutes to reduce.
- Pour in the broth. Next, add the coconut milk and vegetable broth and simmer everything for about 5 minutes.
- Cook the lentils. Add your drained lentils to the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes until they’re soft and the curry is nice and thick. Stir in spinach until it wilts.
- Thicken & serve. Add the fresh lemon juice and stir for about 10 minutes until the dal thickens to your liking. Then serve!
Why rinse & soak the lentils?
Rinsing the lentils until the water runs clear ensures that there isn’t any debris like dust, dirt, husks, etc. in your dal recipe. Lentils are natural, whole food, which means they can carry some of that debris! You’ll want to soak the lentils as well so that they cook a little faster.
Storing & freezing tips
- To store: store this creamy dal in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Feel free to reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop!
- To freeze: let the dal completely cool and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container (or multiple containers for meal prep purposes). Freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat, first let it thaw in the refrigerator, then heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
More nourishing soups, stews & curries
Get all of my soups, stews & curries here!
I hope you love Samah’s incredible dal recipe! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you like it. And remember to pick up a copy of Dada Eats Love to Cook It cookbook!
The Best Dal Ever by Dada Eats
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cozy and nourishing dal made with yellow moong dal, warming spices, creamy coconut milk and a boost of veggies from fresh spinach. This beautiful dal recipe is packed with plant-based protein and fiber for the perfect, satisfying meal!
- 1 cup yellow moong dal or red split lentils
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 (2-inch) knob fresh ginger, grated
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes with their juices
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can reduced fat coconut milk (or feel free to use full-fat if you prefer a richer dal)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- To garnish:
- Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish
- For serving:
- Naan, flatbread, quinoa, or rice for serving
Place the lentils in a medium bowl and cover them with water. Wash the lentils with your hand, tip out the water, and repeat this process until the water runs clear. Cover the lentils with fresh water and soak 30 minutes to 1 hour (this will allow them to cook faster).
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the onions, and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until they start to become tender and translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook with the onions for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until everything starts to brown slightly.
Stir in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt and black pepper. Roast the masala for 2 to 3 minutes until it smells aromatic and darkens in color.
Add the tomato paste and cook until it deepens in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Now pour in the tomatoes. Continue to cook until the tomatoes reduce slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth to the pot. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
Now add the drained lentils. Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the curry is thick. Add the spinach and stir until it wilts.
Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, so the dal continues to thicken and become luscious. Feel free to simmer further to reach your desired consistency. Taste again and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Garnish the dal with chopped cilantro and serve with naan, flatbread, quinoa, or rice.
To store: store this creamy dal in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Feel free to reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop!
To freeze: let the dal completely cool and then transfer it to a freezer-safe container (or multiple containers for meal prep purposes). Freeze for up to 2 months. To reheat, first let it thaw in the refrigerator, then heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
Servings: 4 servings
Serving size: 1 serving (based on 4)
Saturated fat: 11.2g