cooked dahl

Colorful, fragrant dahl is an excellent dish for any season

I have gladly enjoyed a steaming bowl of dahl in the summertime. I don’t shy away from it. The temperature outdoors soars, and I sit in front of a bowlful of hot lentils happy as can be. It stands to reason, that come the wintertime, red lentil dahl is often on my dinner table.

I simply love this dish. It hits every note for me: in my palate it feels complex and soothing; in my tummy it is comforting and filling. It is so versatile that you can pretty much eat it throughout the week without feeling tired of it. Combine it with some basmati rice or serve it alongside roasted root vegetables. You can even vary the flavor profile of the dahl by including different spices when you prepare it. There’s no need to be a purist (although sometimes I am), so a little extra ginger, some smoked salt or a pinch of cardamom can transform your dahl from one meal to the next. Furthermore, altering its texture for a heartier version by cooking it longer to reduce the liquid is an easy way to change it from a soup to a side dish. Is there anything these little red lentils cannot do?

Dahl is a great source of vegetarian protein. It also contains beneficial complex carbohydrates and a negligible amount of fat. Lentils in general are a great source of B vitamins and they also contain vitamins C and E. A variety of minerals and phytochemicals boost the exceptional nutritional value of these little gems even further. Don’t hesitate to introduce them in your diet. This coming winter when the frost is covering your windows and the snow blankets your yard, you’ll be very glad you did.

Red Lentil Dahl

1 cup red lentils
3 cups water
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 cup canned coconut milk
½ small onion or 1 shallot
½ inch piece fresh ginger
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp sweet curry powder
1 pinch cardamom
Sea salt


Rinse the lentils well and reserve. In a large pot, lightly heat the coconut oil and sauté the minced onion, garlic and ginger. Be very careful not to brown them. They will burn very quickly if the oil is too hot. Burnt spices (onions & garlic included) impart a bitter taste to dishes and there is no way to disguise that flavor. Once the aromatics start to release their oils, add the rinsed lentils and mix well. Add the water and let the lentils come to a boil. Stir often to avoid having the lentils stick to the bottom of the pan. They tend to sink and if you walk away they will stick in a hurry. When the lentils start to soften they will change color and their volume will almost double. At this point, add the coconut milk, the curry powder, cardamom and salt to taste. Cover the pot and let it simmer until the lentils are creamy and soft. Don’t forget to stir often until the dahl is fully cooked. You can make any adjustments you wish to the consistency of the dish by adding a bit more coconut milk and/or water. Also adjust the level of spiciness by using a hot curry powder rather than a mild one. To be sure, taste often and add the hot curry one little bit at a time. Dahl freezes very well. It is an ideal dish for batch cooking.


raw dahl

The mighty little red lentils