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!!!!!!


Meet Sweets!

I sat down with Sweethome to talk routines, winter, coziness and dreams -- to get us all pumped for the upcoming Winter Cleanse.  

I started practicing yoga with Sweethome at North Portland Yoga in the fall of 2014. I had just moved back to the Pacific Northwest, was building a tiny house, was unsure of what would come next—and I deeply craved a spiritual practice and a space for me to investigate this new time and this new place. A dear friend brought me to a class with Sweethome and I was hooked. Sweethome offers a strong yoga practice, but what I love most is the space that she creates for inquiry and connection. Connection to ourselves, to “that which knows us better than ourselves”. Connection to each other, through the blending of our voices in chant and the honest (and rare)  conversations that follow. And connection to place-in the Pacific Northwest, on this planet, in this universe. She’s the real deal. 

We will be leading a Winter Cleanse together that will blend 10 days of Ayurvedic cleansing practices and support with 10 cozy mornings practicing yoga and meditation with Sweethome. It's all kicking off January 16th at North Portland Yoga -- Register Here! 

Until then, get to know Sweethome a bit better!



I am up early, 4-6 am. I light the candles on my altar. I make a cup of coffee. I do some writing. I practice mantra and the lovingkindness meditation. Now I am also pulling tarot cards. It is always changing. Sometimes just meditation, sometimes gentle movement. 

And then I move into my day. I take care of my animals. I teach yoga throughout the day.I am cultivating a discipline of writing. I am always thinking about how I am going to make connections throughout the day. Sometimes that is through collaboration. I have video, music, and service projects that I am involved with at this time, but sometimes that collaboration is through simply participating in the world. I just love the interactions that I have with strangers. 

Sometimes I forget to eat. Sometimes I make dinner and sometimes I don’t. Though I get great satisfaction when I supply my girls with a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. And I like days where i make a big pot of food for my household. I have a minimalistic life, and I like it that way. Sometimes I don’t have a good handle on being organized and efficient, but in general I do feel prepared for what is to come. Sometimes I get a lot done in a day and sometimes it feels like simply living.

I feel fortunate in the big picture—even when I am fumbling.



One of my favorite things about Portland in the winter is that one week when it snows, and the city shuts down. In those moments, you have nowhere you have to be. No where to go.  You are always in the right place because that is where you are.

The winter sort of stops things.

I also like the sky in winter, the light of winter, there is a softness to the light.  The softness of the rain. Winter is a soft time of year, an internal nesting time.


I love to give and giving is a part of this whole season. I love to give the things that I make  with my hands: bead work, knitting, in the summer it is the fruits of my gardening.

I also like “New Years” and the invitation to set intentions, to investigate the unknowns of what is to come.  In winter, I take care of my inside world, the inner psyche—and our surroundings are an expression of that. During winter I take care of the inside of my house—the inside of myself. I clean up. I prepare. 


Right now I am reading a tarot book and the Sun Magazine. I have also been listening to the On Being podcast, I recently enjoyed an  interview with the poet Marie Howe --- It made me want to be a student of hers. 


Someone who can begin with a subject and talk you into a sweeping expanse touching upon many other things, you forget where it all began, but then they bring you back and it all connects . A good teacher reminds us that everything is connected when we don’t see it. We might get lost but a good teacher brings it all back together. I think in order to do that, a teacher needs to be loose enough to not be preoccupied by their own self involvement…they don’t have to prove their point or be too rigid, because what they actually say is not as important as what is speaking in everybody else.


Allowing yourself to be scared….if you are not willing to be scared you will never be in a situation where you need to be brave. 


I experience play when I am teaching. I am in love with the world when I am teaching. When I am biking, that is a sort of play. I had a great day the other morning because every interaction with strangers was funny and witty and we felt connected. 


I don’t have a favorite—they swim in and out as needed.

I am teaching a class at SunGate studios “Mantra for Life” and with it I want to establish a practice of mantra that supports health wellness, so that is where my focus is at now.


I see an old friend. I am happy to see him. I walk up and we hug but my left arm is tucked up to my front side like someone with a broken arm in a cast, yet my arm was not broken. We held each other close, but my arm was there, separating us. I hold people close, yet with distance. I know this about myself.


Hmmmmm…. I’m curious about how my life will shift with one of my daughters leaving for college. She and I have a close relationship and have since she was born.  

I am also curious about where my business will take me—my work is a big part of my life and my lifestyle. I am curious about how my work can be more impactful to the world. 

Thank you Sweethome! Find more info about Sweethome's classes, events and more at

And if you are interested in participating in the Winter Cleanse with Sweethome, sign up! It's going to be a juicy one!

Merciful Blueberry Coconut Scones

Merciful Blueberry Scones


This winter has been d-r-a-g-g-i-n-g on here in North Carolina and I have been having apocalyptic thoughts that this might be the winter that doesn’t end. Ever. But then, this morning the sun was shining, the ice was melting, the chubby birds were singing and it seems like spring just might happen after all. For now.

To celebrate, I made scones and ate them in the sun. They feel especially charmed because I used the remaining few blueberries from the haul I picked last summer. I am trusting that they won’t be the last ;) You could use whatever you have on hand, dried fruits would also be a delight!  

Merciful Blueberry Coconut Scones
Author: Denise
Serves: 4 large scones
  • 1 C flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sweetener (sugar, honey, maple syrup)
  • 3 T coconut oil (you could also use cold butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup nut milk (cream, buttermilk, milk are all good too)
  • 3/4 frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the sweetener.
  3. Add the coconut oil to the flour mixture using your hands to thoroughly massage the oil into the flour. You should have a loose and rugged dough in the bowl.
  4. Mix the egg, milk and lemon juice together. Pour over the dough.
  5. Add blueberries and fold into the dough. Dough should be sticky but not too wet. If necessary add a bit of flour.
  6. Pour mixture onto a floured surface and shape into a rectangle. Cut into 4 triangles and arrange onto a cookie sheet.
  7. Place onto a cookie sheet and
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes