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Easy Vegan Lentil Dal

by | Nov 21, 2017 | Mains | 0 comments

So the big question is …  is it dal, daal, dahl or dhal? 

There may be 4 ways to spell it, but there are even more ways to make it!  You can play with ingredients, and mix things up with the spices you have available to make it your own.

In our earlier years of marriage when money was a little tight, we’d often make lentil dal. Not only was it easy to make and super delicious, but it was an affordable meal that lasted a few nights. I’ll never forget a good friend from back then often joked asking, “So, are you making dal tonight?” The funny thing is my answer was always, “Um, actually, yes we are!”

On our recent 30 day plant-based challenge we added dal to the dinner list. And I’m so glad we did! My two boys LOVE it too!

This is our basic recipe, but we do adapt it depending on what we have in the fridge or pantry. I’ve recently discovered that I much prefer the flavour and colour of brown lentils (although they do need cooking for longer). It’s a great beef mince alternative, especially topped on tortilla chips for nacho night!

Garnished with avocado slices, coconut yoghurt and freshly picked coriander, and served with homemade gluten-free naan bread, lentil dal is sure to stay on the weekly menu.


1 medium sized onion, peeled and diced

1 large pepper (green, red or yellow), diced

1 punnet (250g) mushrooms, diced

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove or 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic

1 big handful of coriander

2 tablespoons mother in law spice mix

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 tablespoon cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried mint

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

¼ teaspoon dried chilli powder (optional)

2 – 3 tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil for frying

300ml tomato puree 

300g dried lentils (red or brown)

500ml water

400ml coconut milk 

1 tablespoon coconut sugar (optional)

Handful of fresh baby spinach (or chopped spinach leaves)

Salt & pepper to taste

To serve – 

Sliced avocado

Dairy-free yoghurt 

Fresh coriander

Chilli flakes

Gluten free naan bread / dippers


Place the diced onion, pepper, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, chilli and fresh coriander into a food processor.

Process until it forms a paste.

Heat up a frying pan (or saucepan if you don’t have a lid for frying pan) and dry-fry (no oil) the cumin, mother-in-law, masala, dried mint, turmeric and chilli powder until fragrant and starts smoking.

Add coconut or olive oil to the spices in the pan and mix to a paste.

Add the processed ingredients. Fry for a few minutes. 

Add the lentils, tomato puree, coconut milk, coconut sugar and water and let it simmer (with the lid on as it splatters) until the lentils are soft (between 30 and 45 minutes). Brown lentils take longer to cook than the red lentils.

Add salt and pepper according to your taste. 

Fold in the spinach leaves (optional) just before serving.

To serve – 

Add sliced avocado, a dollop of yoghurt, fresh coriander and a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

Serve with gluten-free naan bread, brown rice, or your favourite dippers.


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