Nurturing Homemade Indian Dal

by | Aug 19, 2022 | Dinner, Healthy Comfort Food, Lunch, Recipes

I am not sure if it is the 4 months I spent travelling throughout India in my younger years or the fact that my mum and dad also loved Indian food but what I know without a shadow of a doubt is that I adore spicy food.

Dal is a beautiful option for the home dinner table.  Lentils are wonderful because they have a mild flavour so can be added to all sorts of dishes and they are packed full of vitamins and nutrients.

As a naturopath who is passionate about people having sufficient protein in their diet, lentils are a wonderful plant base protein.  Lentils are actually made up of over 25% protein.  They are also rich in fibre, potassium and non heme iron making them a perfect meal option for heart health, blood glucose management and digestion.

Dal is also a low calorie dish for those watching their weight without sacrificing flavour.

I love the herbs and spices used in this curry as they have wonderful health benefits to help improve circulation, stimulate digestion, reduce inflammation and support healthy liver detoxification. 

Fresh garlic, ginger and turmeric are three of my favourite super herbs and they stand tall in this recipe.

Our house commits to regular plant based meals for dinner with a good quality protein.  This dal ticks that box.  I often eat this without rice and add some baby spinach leaves for a smaller night-time meal however it is beautiful on rice with fresh coriander sprinkled on the top.  I do have one request however – never make carbohydrates the main event on your plate or else blood glucose levels can be negatively impacted.  Always a small serve of rice and add baby spinach on the side if you need a bigger meal.

My dear mum introduced me to this recipe.  It is not my recipe.  Mum absolutely loves dal, so I respect her opinion on this recipe, and I was certainly not disappointed.

This dish has a nurturing flavour and so easy to prepare.  It is also gluten free, dairy free and sugar free plus it tastes even better the next night for leftovers.


  • 1 tablespoon of organic ghee or olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes diced
  • 1 ½ cups of red lentils
  • 5 cups of filtered water
  • 3 tablespoons of coriander, finely chopped


  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Vegetable salt or salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped or minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger
  • 2 dry red chillies, halved


Rinse your lentils and then soak for 30 minutes in a large saucepan with the 5 cups of water.

Place saucepan on stove top, add salt and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until lentils are cooked.  You will know if they are properly cooked by pressing a few bits of lentil between your fingers and they should easily break.

Remove white material that can sit on the surface with a spoon and discard.

Now it is time to prepare your Dal temper.  To do this, heat your ghee in a saucepan on medium heat.  Add cumin which will start to pop in 1-2 minutes.

Add your dry halved chillies and sauté for 30 seconds or so.

Add garlic and ginger and sauté for a further 30 seconds, slowly adding onions.  Cook until translucent and caramelised.  Now add your turmeric and chilli powders and stir well.

Combine your tomatoes into the onion mix and cook for a further 4 minutes until tomatoes have broken down.

Combine your tomato mix to your pot of lentils and mix through.

Bring to the boil and add more water if the dal is a thicker consistency than you desire and simmer for 10 minutes.

To serve

Serve with rice, pappadums or on its own and sprinkle fresh coriander on the top.