Dhal, also spelled Daal, Dal, and Dahl refers to any variety of beans, lentils or split peas. It is also the name of a dish made from its namesake seasoned with warm spices, tomato, onion and garlic that is very common in India. This particular Dhal is made with red lentils, which are quick cooking and packed with fiber and protein. I love red lentils because they’re easy to cook and basically fail-proof. You can just barely cook them so they still have a bite, or you can cook them down until they blend into a delicious creamy soup-like texture (like this Dhal). You can’t go wrong.
I made this Dhal for the first time after we went on a date to a local restaurant that had a Dhal appetizer. Neither of us had ever tried it before, so we decided to give it a go.
It was phenomenal.
We devoured the whole bowl, and seriously would have ordered seconds had our entrees not shown up. It was warmly spiced, slightly acidic, almost creamy and just slightly spicy. I couldn’t stop talking about it– a telltale sign that I am in love with something because I literally don’t stop talking about it. Sometimes for days. In this case it was too good to not recreate at home, much to Ryan’s relief I am sure as it meant I would stop stalking about the incredible lentils we ate 3 days ago. He’s a very patient man, and I am grateful.
Dhal is such an unexpected but delicious weeknight dinner. It is everything I look for in a meal after a long day of work: simple, flavourful and nutritious. This Red Lentil Dhal is full of fiber to keep you full and is quick to make. The whole meal can be ready in 45 minutes with most of that time spent with the lentil simmering away leaving you plenty of time to get into your after work comfy clothes and set Netflix to your current obsession.
Even better, this Dhal holds really well in the fridge or freezer. We used to make this when we were both in University and we would batch cook a whole bunch of freezer meals in one weekend to eat throughout the semester. Dhal was a favourite of ours because it tasted just as good (often better!) once it was thawed out from the freezer as it did the day we made it. Many eat Dhal as a side dish but we eat it as an entrée paired with a quick batch of rice, store bought naan or roti topped with a sprinkle of cilantro and a squeeze of lime or lemon. GIMB!
Red Lentil Dahl
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil (or any oil that can withstand a high temperature i.e. canola, grapeseed)
- 1 medium onion, diced (appx. 1 cup)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1.5 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1.5 tsp fresh ginger, grated finely
- 2 small tomatoes, finely diced (appx. 1 cup)
- 1.5 cups dry red lentils
- 3.5 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- zest & juice of 1 lime (1.5 tbsp)
- Extra lime wedges
- Cilantro for topping
- Store bought Naan or Roti, or rice to serve
Heat coconut oil on a medium-high heat. Add mustard seed & cumin seeds and fry until the mustard seeds begin popping ( about 15 seconds).
Add onion turn heat down slightly and sauté over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, until softened.
Add garlic and ginger, sauté another 3-4 minutes.
Add diced tomatoes and cook 4-5 minutes until the juice evaporates & tomatoes soften.
Add garam masala, lentils and water. Partially cover the pan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 30-40 minutes until the lentils are softened and begin to break down.
Finish with lime zest, juice and salt.
Serve with lime wedges and cilantro sprinkled over the top with a side of naan or roti to scoop up the Dhal or over rice.