Light Late Summer Dal

Light Late Summer Dal

Dal is incredibly versatile and has become a dish that I turn to again and again for a fast and satisfying meal. The versatility is really what makes me swoon.  By making a few small changes to a basic recipe, you can create a whole new dish. I love to change up dal by adding different veg - depending on the season. You can also be playful with different spice profiles, as well as different mediums for the broth. For a light version use water, for something heartier go for coconut milk. Finding staple recipes that you can easily and satisfyingly change up is the KEY to cooking for yourself at home! . . .

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The Basics of Indian Dal

I recently shared this recipe at Chuck's Produce, where I do F R E E  monthly seasonal cooking demonstrations. This is a go-to recipe for myself throughout the winter and early spring, because is is simple to make, warming, satisfying and nutrient dense. Plus, Dal is a fantastic source of proteins for a balanced vegetarian diet.

Most Dals favor lentils as a the bean of choice, though other beans can be used. Dal suggests that the beans have been skinned and split, it can also suggest that the beans will be braised resulting in a stew-y delicious dish.  You can produce Dal's with whole beans as well. I like to use small tender beans like mung, adzuki or peas if I am not using lentils. Though, you could use the same cooking method described below to make a stewed bean dish with chickpeas, or bean of your choice. You will simply need to adjust cooking times as most beans require 1.5 - 2 hours to cook. 

Here is a handy dandy guide to soaking and cooking beans! Image courtesy of  Active Vegetarian - a great plant based diet resource!

The other reason I wanted to share this recipe is that it is endlessly versatile. You can change the beans, the veg, the broth or cooking liquid, and/or the spice profile to make a wide variety of simple bean dishes. I offer a few tips below for ways to Change it up!

I hope you enjoy this one--let me know if you try it, and how you make it your own!

Simple Indian Dal Recipe


  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 tsp Coconut Oil or Ghee
  • 2 inch fresh ginger root, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 bunch chopped cilantro


  1. Sauté the ground coriander, chopped onion, carrots and fresh ginger in the coconut oil until sizzling and releasing a fantastic smell.
  2. Stir in the lentils and add 1 cup water. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the coconut milk and simmer for an additional 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the cilantro leaves, scallions, lime zest and juice and salt and pepper.
  5. Leave to stew for 15 minutes, before serving.
  • Serve with sautéd greens or over a cooked grain of your choosing. 
  • You could also thin this some with water or broth to have a soupier dal.
  • This stores beautifully, so make a big ol’ batch.

Change It Up! 

Here are a few variations that are simple and delicious. Dal is sure to become one of your go-to meals!

Add spice!

This recipe would is delicious with a variety of different spices. Instead of coriander try: your favorite curry blend, garlic + turmeric, dried or fresh basil, lemongrass + chili pepper. If using a white bean try omitting the coconut oil + milk,  and use water, stewed tomatoes + thyme or herbs de provence.

Use Your Favorite Vegetables

You could sub out the carrots for your favorite seasonal veg. Winter squash, potato, parsnip,   cauliflower, celery, red pepper,  summer squashes, or tomatoes (fresh or stewed) and many more. Apples would even be delicious! Simply sub sub out in step 1. Check to make sure veg is cooked through-if not, cook a bit longer.

Try Different beans

The cooking time will be longer, but you could use a variety of beans to make Dal. Try different lentils, mung beans, adzuki beans or even navy beans. You will need to adjust cooking times, 45min - 1 hour. You will also want to be mindful to add a bit more liquid when necessary. See the Handy Dandy Bean Cooking Chart (also linked above!)


If you know me, you know I love to garnish! Garnishes add fresh elements to your dish, pops of color and different textures which can simply transform a meal. Good garnishes for DAL:

  • load up on chopped herbs: cilantro, parsley, mint, scallions, basil, etc.
  • slices of radish or tomato
  • toasted nuts and seeds: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, cashews
  • stir in cold butter, ghee, olive oil,  coconut milk, or plain yogurt , or honey when serving
  • Different Sea Salts and Black Pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon or lime
  • Your favorites!!!!!!