This dahl is one of my favourite meals. It is warming and exotic in taste and full of vegetables and incredible nutrition. Dahl is usually served with rice and naan bread, but in my opinion you can easily serve this on its own or with a side of greens and/or some brown rice or quinoa.
Nutritionally, red lentils are high in fibre (around 30%), protein (around 26%), B vitamins, iron and zinc, and are very easy to cook. They are ideal for dahl, soups and stews as they cook out to be completely soft. Like other legumes, red lentils do contain anti-nutrients, also known as phytonutrients/phytates, that inhibit the absorption of minerals, making them less bioavailable. A super easy and effective way to reduce these phytates and boosting the nutritional bio-availablility is to soak the lentils in water. Simply leave them to soak overnight or start the process in the morning if you know you’ll be cooking with them later on. I know this may seem like a lot of organising, but in the end, even if you only manage to soak them for an hour or two – a little is better than nothing at all. Pre-soaking lentils can also work wonders for those who struggle with digestive upset after consuming legumes.
This dahl is rich in herbs and spices that are known for their warming and metabolism boosting benefits – perfect for staying warm during cooler months, and a delicious way to start experimenting with vegetarian dishes.
- 1 yellow onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 red chilli
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1½ tsp tumeric powder
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger (minced/grated)
- 1-2 tsp ground cumin
- 240 ml (1 cup) red lentils (preferably soaked for at least 4 hours)
- 800 ml (3¼ cups) water
- 2 tsp salt + pepper to taste
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 250 gm (about 2 cups) cauliflower, finely chopped
- ½ butternut squash, roasted and cut into cubes
- 2 handfuls kale, chopped
- 120 ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk (the creamy kind is best)
- nigella seeds + toasted sesame seeds to top (OPTIONAL)
- Fresh coriander to top
- Preheat the oven to 200 C (390 F). Halve the butternut squash and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft. Cut one half into cubes, and put away the rest in an airtight container to eat for lunch the next day.
- Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a large pot and add the mustard seeds, allowing them to pop for a moment. Next, add the onions, garlic, turmeric, chilli, cumin and ginger and stir fry for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
- Add water and red lentils and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes until the lentils soften. (don't add salt yet, as this can toughen the lentils)
- Add cubed squash, cauliflower, cinnamon and cover again. Simmer for an additional 20 minutes until the dahl is nice and thick.
- Add salt and pepper to suit your taste.
- Add coconut milk and kale and stir through until the kale starts to wilt (this only takes a few minutes).
- Transfer to bowls and sprinkle with nigella and toasted sesame seeds (optional). Serve on its own or over rice or quinoa.