I am NOT a bean lover—which does not go well with being a healthy eater. Beans are one of the healthiest foods we can eat! They are loaded with protein and fiber and can help combat heart disease and cholesterol. And eating more of our meals as plant-based and a few less as animal-based is a positive step towards a healthier diet.
So If you’re like me and you don’t like the texture of large beans, the best way to start eating them is to start small. Literally. I mean eat small beans. And the smallest ones out there are lentils.
There are many reasons I LOVE this Red Lentil Dal:
- The lentils become very soft and barely hold their shape, which makes it quite delicious to eat with some warm whole wheat naan or rice.
- The flavors of this dal are like nothing you’re used to—a nice change for your palate!
- This is an easy recipe to make.
- Between the health benefits of the lentils and the health benefits of the many spices in this dish, it is–how shall I put this–incredibly healthy! 🙂
Here is a photo of what red lentils look like in case you are unsure. Do NOT use regular lentils in this recipe.
Also this recipe calls for a spice you may not have heard of before–fenugreek. Hence the unique flavors of this dal!! You should be able to find it at Whole Foods.
Red Lentil Dal
Soft and flavorful
- 1 cup dry red lentils
- 3 cups water
- 3 plum tomatoes
- 2 tsp. canola, grapeseed or olive oil
- 1/2 cup white or yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp. ground mustard
- 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 lime juiced
- 8 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 1 big handful fresh baby spinach chopped
Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Score the peel of the tomatoes with an "X". Place the tomatoes in the boiling water and blanch for a minute. Remove the tomatoes and let cool.
Rinse lentils under cold water and drain. Place rinsed lentils in the same empty pot that you used for the tomatoes. Add 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until lentils are soft and mushy.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Add the onions and cook for about 5-10 minutes until translucent and slightly browned. Mix the mashed garlic with a sprinkle of kosher salt and mash the combination into a garlic paste using a spoon or fork. Add the garlic to the onions and cook for about 1 minute.
Add sesame seeds, cumin, fennel, mustard and fenugreek. Stir and cook for about 3 minutes. Add bay leaf, and turmeric. Stir to combine.
Add lentils AND lentil cooking water to the onion mixture. Add the salt. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
While lentils are cooking, peel the tomatoes and discard the skin. Mash the tomato pulp with your hands. After the lentils have cooked for 10 minutes, add the tomatoes, lime juice and spinach. Stir until combined and spinach is soft.
Taste to see if more salt is needed. Add cilantro. Serve with brown rice or whole wheat naan.