Comforting Lentil Dahl
This dish is filling, hardy, soulful, and like a big hug from the sweet indian grandmother you never knew you had, her sweet spirit lives in this dahl... (Okay I'm going over the top here) HOWEVER...You MUST make it if you haven't, and hopefully this recipe will help get you started eating dahl. Or as we American may feel more comfortable saying.. Lentil Soup.
Thinking about Dahl and making it fills my heart with so much love and appreciation. It reminds me of the family I came to collect or adopt while living in Hawaii for several years and at that time practicing organic farming and mantra meditation everyday. This dish is largely inspired from those days running around on the Big Island chanting, cooking, and learning/teaching others how to grow food.
I'd love to tell you the stories of that beautiful chapter of my life and how that time on the Big Island living in lower Puna introduced me to Indian cooking/ cuisine. I'd love to write all night about it... But will keep it short for this post, because after all you are here for the recipe. And I'll be sure to recount those marvelous years another time with you my dear readers.
Firstly, the two ingredients I would like to highlight as the stars in this dish are turmeric and ginger, both ingredients I was fortunate enough to be able to grow easily on the farm I lived on in Hawaii. So this dish came out of necessity in many ways with materials we had available to us residents on the farm.
Where I was living was rural and trips to town were often scheduled, ingredients were not always available as we might see here on mainland. Also fyi farming doesn't make much money, especially if you are a small time organic grower in Hawaii. It was a simple life but a beautiful one, and the food was always amazing and inexpensive. Life made comforting by dishes like this.
Lets talk about Lentils for a hot sec.. Lentils are hardy, affordable and so healthy, trust me on this one. I often buy red lentils in bulk to save money. A great source of protein and fiber, necessary especially when one is doing hard work like farming or working the body out strenuously. However, this recipe is great to eat everyday not matter what work you are doing. I've come to love and appreciate the humble lentil in my diet via the vehicle of the ingredients in this dish. And I know you will too.
Prep time/ cook time Cook time 30-40 mins
2 cups red lentils
2 tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee
3 tablespoons grated ginger
1/4 cilantro stems from fresh cilantro
2 bay leaves
6-7 cups of water or low sodium organic vegetable broth ( I like the pacifica brand)
1 tablespoon of cumin powder or cumin seeds
1 tsp chili flakes ( or sub for fresh chili) 🌶
1/2 tsp of fennel seeds
1/2 tablespoons of coriander powder
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 cup chopped sweet potato or regular potato cut into large cubes
1/2 cup of crushed tomato purée
1/2 cup of coconut milk
2 tablespoon of coconut aminos or soy sauce (optional for flavor)
1 tsp of raw honey
1 tablespoon of salt recommended ( season to taste)
1 diced yellow onion (optional)
1.) Start by measuring out and rinsing your lentils. Rinse in a fine mesh strainer to remove any dust etc from lentils. Then place your rinsed and drained red lentils into a medium to large pot. This is like a soup so having a thick bottomed and large pot is preferable.
2.) To the large pot add the lentils, then add 6 cups of water or preferably vegetable broth and a 1/2-1 tablespoon of salt (to taste). Turn on heat to medium high until water boils. Then turn heat down and cook lentils on medium- low. Stir occasionally to assist in breaking down the lentils. The lentils will as they cook start to turn to like a mash and break down. You can add the bay leafs at this point, liquid aminos, tomato purée, raw honey. Stir to combine.
3.) In a separate skillet or you can use a cast iron pan, sauté the spices: turmeric, chili flake, ginger, onion, cumin, fennel, cilantro, with 2-3 tablespoons of coconut oil or ghee sautée on high heat for 2-3 mins. The point here is to toast your spices releasing their fragrance.
4.). Add chopped potatos to the sauté pan with the spices and cook additional 4 mins. Be careful to not leave the stove at any point as you do not want the spices to burn or stick too bad on the bottom of the pan. This is called a Chhonk in Indian cooking or toasted spices. (You are essentially toasting your spices and infusing the oil.)
5.) Add the chhonk and the rest of the ingredients to the lentils and cook for 35-40 mins with a lid on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally.
6.) After 25 min your dahl should be thickening into a soup and the lentils should be cooked. At this point you can add the coconut milk. (I like native forrest brand as it's very clean tasting).
7. The longer you cook this soup the more thick it will become, I recommend 30-40 mins, as I like my dahl to be thick and not to thin.
Note: Feel free to play with this dish adding zucchini, kale, tofu, other leafy greens.. I don't prefer spinach it can be kind of slimy, but thats just me. Personally I like my Dahl simple, with not too many veggies. I enjoy it best this way.
Pic of Lentil Dahl wrapped in a homemade Dosa.
Cilantro and lime make for the perfect garnish for this dish.
Thankyou for reading if you give this a try would love to see give us a tag on IG or facebook, and of course please feel free to leave a review.