Fragrant Kidney Bean Lentil Dal

This lentil dal dish is a dal of sorts, and is especially fragrant and flavorful, rich with spices, and yet not spicy in a hot sense. I enjoy how this dish is not hot-spicy, however, you can always add a few splashes of hot sauce if you like.

Find this lentil dal recipe and more in the Forks Over Knives Recipe App.

By Dreena Burton,


  • 1½ - 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • pinch or two crushed red pepper flakes (or more/less to taste, see note)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or ½ teaspoon cinnamon)
  • 2½ - 3 cups water (see note)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed or good quality orange juice (see note)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 1 cup red lentils (rinse before adding to pot)
  • 1 can (14 ounce) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or black beans)
  • 2 dried or fresh bay leaves
  • Hot sauce to taste (optional, see note)
  • Freshly chopped cilantro (for garnish, optional)


  • Heat the water in a large pot over high or medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, salt, pepper, spices, and cinnamon stick.
  • Stir, cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add 2 ½ cups of the water, and the orange juice, garlic, ginger, lentils, kidney beans, and bay leaves.
  • Stir, bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium or medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick (leaving the stick in will impart a stronger cinnamon flavor, but this can be overpowering), and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the lentils are fully dissolved and the mixture has thickened.
  • For a thinner consistency, add the extra water, anywhere from ¼ to ½ cup, or more, if desired. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
  • Season with additional salt, if desired. Add hot sauce to taste and sprinkle with fresh cilantro (if using).


    If This Apron Could Talk: The consistency of this dish can be kept thicker, for scooping with roti bread or even whole-grain tortillas, or made thinner to serve over rice, or to eat more like a stew. Start with the 2 ½ cups of water and then thin out later to your desired consistency.

    Ingredients 411: I am a fennel lover. The flavor of fennel, anise, licorice— all resonate very favorably for me. If you also love fennel, go ahead and use a full 1 teaspoon (I usually do). But if you are a little more tentative about the fennel flavor, use just ½ teaspoon. Just don’t leave it out altogether; it really combines beautifully with the spice profile in the dish.

    Kid-Friendly: If serving this to children, you might want to omit the crushed red pepper flakes and reserve the hot sauce for the adult individual portions. If you like things spicy, feel free to add hot sauce to the dal to taste, or add more crushed red pepper flakes earlier in the cooking process with the other spices.

    Savvy Subs and Adds: The orange juice brings a lovely flavor to this dish, but if you don’t have any oranges or juice on hand, feel free to replace with water.

    Serving Suggestions: Serve with Indian-Inspired Rice (also from Let Them Eat Vegan), roti bread, and chutney (if you like).

Comments (2)

(4 from 2 votes)

Recipe Rating

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Very good taste overall, and quite easy to make. I needed to cook longer for the lentils to soften ~ maybe 45 mins total.


Made this tonight! Everyone loved it

About the Author

Headshot of Dreena Burton

About the Author

Dreena Burton

Dreena Burton has written six cookbooks charting her journey as a plant-powered cook and at-home mother of three. Always passionate about creating nutritious recipes, she is an advocate of using the “vegan basics” (beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables) to create dishes that are healthy but also very satisfying and delicious! For more on her plant-powered recipes and newest cookbook, Dreena’s Kind Kitchen: 100+ Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes to Enjoy Every Day, visit, and follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
See More from this Author

Free Download

Free 5-day meal plan!

Get a taste for healthy, fuss-free meal planning with this free five-day meal plan from Forks Meal Planner!

By providing your email address, you consent to receive newsletter emails from Forks Over Knives. We value your privacy and will keep your email address safe. You may unsubscribe from our emails at any time.

Placeholder image

Join our mailing list

Get free recipes and the latest info on living a happy, healthy plant-based lifestyle.

By providing your email address, you consent to receive newsletter emails from Forks Over Knives. We value your privacy and will keep your email address safe. You may unsubscribe from our emails at any time.