The Best Vegan Dal Ever
This is my go-to dal. It’s creamy from the coconut milk, tangy from the lemon. It pulls sweetness from the tomatoes and sneaks in some surprise spinach (mostly because I wanted to add some greenery). It’s energizing and light, while remaining both grounding and comforting.
- 1 cup yellow moong dal or red split lentils
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 (2-inch) knob fresh ginger, grated
- 5 garlic cloves, sliced
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes with their juices
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can reduced-fat coconut milk (or feel free to use full-fat if you prefer a richer dal)
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, for garnish
- Naan, flatbread, quinoa, or rice for serving
- Place the lentils in a medium bowl and cover them with water. Wash the lentils with your hand, tip out the water, and repeat this process until the water runs clear. Cover the lentils with fresh water and soak 30 minutes to 1 hour (this will allow them to cook faster).
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the onions, and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until they start to become tender and translucent. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook with the onions for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until everything starts to brown slightly.
- Stir in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt and black pepper. Roast the masala for 2 to 3 minutes until it smells aromatic and darkens in color.
- Add the tomato paste and cook until it deepens in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Now pour in the tomatoes. Continue to cook until the tomatoes reduce slightly, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth to the pot. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Now add the drained lentils. Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the curry is thick. Add the spinach and stir until it wilts.
- Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, so the dal continues to thicken and becomes luscious. Feel free to simmer further to reach your desired consistency.
- Garnish the dal with chopped cilantro and serve with naan, flatbread, quinoa, or rice.
Recipe from DADA EATS LOVE TO COOK IT. Copyright © 2021 by Samah Dada. Photography copyright © 2021 by Julia Gartland. Published by Rodale Books, and imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
Samah is a New York City-based recipe developer, food photographer, and blogger behind Dada Eats. Drawing from her Indian heritage and inspired by the foodscapes of London, California, and New York, she is the host of Cooking with Samah Dada on the Today show’s digital channel.
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