Lentil-Potato Dal

Dal – spelled daal, dhal and dahl as well – is a term used for legumes (that is, lentils, beans and peas) in the Indian subcontinent. It also refers to a variety of soups or stews prepared with any of the said ingredients. Most commonly, one tends to associate dal with a curry-laden lentil concoction, and that goes for us too. In our opinion, that’s just the best. Sometimes we make it without potatoes and serve it over rice instead (which, we’re not going to lie, is ridiculously yummy), but with potatoes already in there, it turns into a one-pot complete meal AND a much more eco-friendly alternative (naturally, buying locally grown potatoes is a far better choice than imported rice). Another great alternative is to serve it over wheat berries, which gives you some rice-like chewiness from a far more sustainable food source (at least for us up here in the north).

Dal is actually a particularly dear dish to me. In fact, one could say it’s travelled the world with me! My cousin and I spent five months road-tripping/backpacking in New Zealand and Australia back in 2012, and we cooked up dal in hostel kitchens and on a portable camping stove more times than I can count. To us, that was just the perfect meal. Cheap, nourishing and easy to make a big batch of so we’d have leftovers for days. Plus warming, which you might be surprised to hear we appreciated when traveling down under – but we did. New Zealand was as amazing as it was chilly, so a bowl of hot lentil stew was pretty much always a hit come nighttime. We did impress upon fellow travelers, I should add, when we were chopping and stirring away, digging out our collection of spice jars and infusing common rooms and camp grounds with curry smells, all the while they were hitting up instant noodles. Ah, fun memories.

And then we moved to NYC, my dal and I, and there we scored the handsome neighbor across the hall together. Yep, the recipe below was the first dinner I ever made Michael! And since then, it’s become our staple dinner food. We have it as often as we can, and love it so much. Hope you will too. From a sports nutrition standpoint, this is a goldmine. Not only because you’ll meet your protein and carbohydrate requirements without a doubt, but also because you can make a big batch that will last many meals AND it reheats amazingly. Let us know what you think!

För recept på svenska, klicka här: Lins- och potatisdal

Serves 6-8

2-3 tbsp canola oil or coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion (~150 g), chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp curry powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground or crushed cumin
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
6 medium carrots (~600 g), chopped
3 tbsp fresh ginger (~5 cm knob), finely chopped
1 kg waxy potatoes, cubed into 2 cm pieces
6 dl red lentils, rinsed
1.2 l water
1600 g crushed tomatoes
1 can full-fat coconut milk
250 g fresh spinach or chard (if using chard, cut off the thicker part of the stalks and reserve for another dish)
Additional 1-2 tsp salt

Toppings:

3-4 dl raw cashew nuts or peanuts (180-240 g, or approx. ½ dl per serving)
1 ½ dl chopped cilantro
Optional: Greek yogurt

  1. Heat up the coconut oil in a large pot (probably the biggest one you have). Sauté onions over medium-low heat for about 5 min, before adding in the garlic. Continue cooking for another 2-3 min. Lower the heat just a little, and then add in all the spices: curry, coriander, cumin, chili, cinnamon and 1 tsp salt. Stir often to make sure it doesn’t burn, but don’t be afraid if it seems very dry – just stir away and let it get very fragrant, approx. 3 min.
  2. Add in the ginger and let it cook for a minute or two, before mixing in the carrots and potatoes. Stir around for another minute, then mix in the lentils. Allow one more minute of “dry” cooking.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and then add water, crushed tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir often, almost every few minutes, to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom. If it seems to be thickening up too quickly, add in more water. The cooking time will vary slightly, but 20-35 min is a fair estimate. You want the potato cubes to be done, yet definitely on the firm side. Season to taste. We usually end up adding 1 ½ tsp more of salt.
  4. Serve in large bowls, topped with cashews, cilantro and an optional dollop of yogurt.

2 thoughts on “Lentil-Potato Dal

    1. I don’t know if you remember, Danielle, but I shared some of the ‘cooking dal in Australia’-story in that writing class of ours! Good times for sure – both backpacking and taking that class with you 🙂

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