We are so fortunate to have the best Indian grocery store not too far from our house. There are aisles upon aisles of spices, rice, and about a hundred kinds of dal! Dal is often translated as “lentils” but refers to a split version of various lentils, peas, chickpeas (chana), kidney beans, and so on. If a pulse, or bean, is split in half, it is called a dal. So the chana dal that I used for this recipe is a split chickpea!
To me, the best part of this recipe was the addition of whole spices. Imagine how good your kitchen will smell while sautéing onions, cloves, a whole cinnamon stick, and cardamom. Delicious! You can use any green on hand, I just happened to have some spinach that needed to be used, but kale is a great option, too.
This is an easy recipe for the Instant pot too. Use the sauté feature to cook the onions and spices. Then pick-up the recipe at step three and cook on high for 15 minutes. I cubed and browned my sweet potatoes before adding them to the lentils. If you don’t roast them or brown them first, you run the risk of them becoming mushy.
Curried dal is deliciously satisfying and super easy to make! You will also have plenty of leftovers! Serve with warmed naan or toasted bread.
- 1 pound dal
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
- 1 Serrano chile, stemmed and finely sliced
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
- 1/3 cup yellow curry paste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 10 oz fresh baby spinach
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1 full 15 oz can full fat coconut milk
- Garnish with yogurt, and cilantro, and smoked paprika
- Rinse the lentils in a strainer in cold water until the water runs clear, then place in a medium bowl, cover with water, and set aside. Using the side of a knife, carefully crack open the cardamom pods.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil into a large pot over medium heat. When hot, add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves. Cook for about a minute, then add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are browning and soft. Add garlic, ginger, and chile and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove cinnamon stick.
- Drain lentils and add to the pot; add turmeric, curry paste, and 4 1/4 cups of hot water. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once they are boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and creamy.
- While lentils are cooking, warm a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and when shimmering, add sweet potatoes. Brown potatoes on all sides and cook until they are almost fork tender. Remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil over medium heat and, when shimmering, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the reserved onion mixture and fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spinach, shredded coconut, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt—Cook for 1 minute. Add the lime juice and stir.
- When the lentils are soft and creamy, add the coconut milk and remaining salt. Add spinach mixture and sweet potatoes—taste for seasoning. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until potatoes have warmed through. I added just a bit more curry paste to mine, but I like heat! Serve in a bowl, and spoon over rice. Top with yogurt, cilantro, and smoked paprika.