This dal has a very traditional texture, where the lentils are mushy but still intact. For a soupier texture, blend the lentils in a blender before adding the lemon juice and cilantro. This is great served as-is, or you can use it as the base for a variety of soups. Just add any vegetables, throw in some leftover cooked grains like quinoa, brown rice, millet, or pasta, and you’ll have a hearty one-dish meal.
This freezes well, so feel free to also make a double batch and freeze it in smaller containers. Then, whenever you have some leftover grains and a few wilting vegetables in your crisper drawer, defrost one of your frozen containers of dal and heat it up with your leftovers. Your meal will be ready in minutes!
1. Place the lentils in a saucepan and add 4 cups of water.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the ginger.
3. Cover the pan and simmer until the lentils are soft and have turned yellow, 15 to 20 minutes.
4. Add the coriander, onion powder, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, salt to taste, and 1 cup water if the dal is very thick. Simmer for about 10 minutes more to blend the flavors.
5. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot, with rice or bread.
Rinsing Grains and Legumes and Soaking Lentils: When dried ingredients such as rice and lentils come in sealed bags, it’s easy to forget that they’re not that different from fresh vegetables and need to be treated similarly. Place whatever you’re rinsing in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Swish it around a few times; the water will often turn creamy white. Drain the water, add fresh water, and repeat 3 or 4 times, or until the water runs clear even after you swish it around. Drain thoroughly before cooking as instructed.
Soaking the lentils for an hour prior to cooking them will reduce the cooking time in most recipes by 10 to 15 minutes. After soaking, drain them thoroughly and proceed as directed in the recipe, adjusting the cooking time as necessary.
Photo by Cara Howe
- 1½ cups red lentils, rinsed and soaked
- 1½ teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Sea salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
- Steamed rice or whole-grain bread, for serving
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