Dal Two Ways! Traditional and Non-traditional.

Since eating a plant based diet, I have fallen in love with Indian food, purely because there are so many recipes based around legumes and they are always so flavourful and nutritionally dense due to the amount of commonly unknown superfoods. Lentils themselves are a great source of carbohydrates, protein and fibre, they are high in vitamins and minerals such as folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium and they help to stabilise blood sugar. A lot of Indian spices like turmeric, cumin and ginger are nutrient power houses! Turmeric is known for its immune boosting and anti inflammatory properties due to the main ingredient, curcumin and both ginger and cumin are great for digestion and have anti inflammatory properties as well.

Dal is one of my favourite Indian dishes because it’s so hearty and satisfying. There are so many ways to make a Dal but these are my two favourite ways. Firstly I made the sweet potato and red lentil dal, which is less traditional and the other is a Tarka Dal, which I tried for the first time at an Indian restaurant in New Zealand late last year. After trialling some recipes I came up with my own that is a winner and it’s super easy! No tempering, no crazy weird ingredients and no fuss! Both of these dishes are super simple, easy and quick to make.

Tarka Dal

~1 brown onion, diced
~ 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
~1 thumb size piece of ginger, sliced into rounds
~ 400 grams of chana dal (yellow split peas)
~ 2 tsp cumin powder
~1 tsp coriander seeds
~ 1/2 tsp turmeric
~2 tsp garam masala
~ 1/2 tsp asafoetida (optional)
~ 1 tsp chilli flakes
~ 1 vegetablestock cube

~ 1 litre water
~ 1 can diced tomatoes
~ Fresh coriander
~ Optional- baked/steamed pumpkin, peas, corn etc.


  1. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to a pressure cooker and fry for 5 minutes.
  2. Add in all of the spices with a dash of water to create a paste.
  3. Add in the chana dal and stirto combine.
  4. Add in all of the other ingredients and set the pressure cooker to 14 minutes.
  5. If not using a pressure cooker, do the exact same method but cook the dal for about 1-2 hours, adding extra water every 15 minutes or so if the mixture becomes too thick.
  6. Once cooked, stir through some fresh coriander and serve with rice, greens and fresh salad made from cucumber, tomato, red onion, lemon juice and coriander.

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Dal


~1 red onion, finely chopped
~2 garlic cloves, crushed
~1 thumb size piece of ginger, grated
~400 grams of sweet potato (about 1.5 medium)
~250 grams red lentils

~1.5 tsp cumin
~1.5 tsp turmeric
~1/2 tsp ground coriander
~1/2 tsp garam masala
~1 tsp paprika
~1/2 tin of tomatoes
~600-800ml vegetable stock

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (fan forced)
  2. Cut the sweet potato into chunks and coat it with the paprika
  3. Place that into the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until tender
  4. While the sweet potato is cooking, add the onion to a pot and cook until translucent
  5. Add in the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for another minute.
  6. Add in the spices and a splash of water to create a paste, cook for a minute
  7. Add in the red lentils, stir to coat in the spice mixture and then cover with 600ml of stock and the tinned tomatoes
  8. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer with the lid on
  9. Stir every 5-8 minutes to ensure the dahl doesn’t catch to the bottom of the pan
  10. The lentils should take 20 minutes to cook so turn it off the heat once they are tender and add in the sweet potato once they are cooked. Add in another 100-200mls of water when adding in the sweet potato and let the mixture simmer with the lid off for another 5-10 minutes.
  11. Serve with greens, fresh coriander and your choice of grain.


Jess xx


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