Dal was always on the table when I was growing up, thanks to my mom. I wanted to create my own signature dal recipe, and this is it! It's creamy and rich from the coconut milk, and tangy from the lemon juice. The tomatoes add sweetness and I love adding a bit of sneaky spinach to add some greens to my day. This dal is my favorite — it's comforting, hearty and the perfect weeknight companion.
Technique tip: Soaking the lentils for as little as 30 minutes or as long as overnight allows them to cook faster. Don't skip soaking!
Swap option: Feel free to use full-fat coconut milk if you prefer a richer dal.
Place the lentils in a medium bowl and cover them with water. Wash the lentils with your hand, tip out the water and repeat this process until the water runs clear. Cover the lentils with fresh water and soak 30 minutes to 1 hour (this will allow them to cook faster).2.
Heat olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until they start to become tender and translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and cook with the onions for an additional 2-3 minutes, until everything starts to brown slightly.3.
Stir in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Roast the masala for 2-3 minutes, until it smells aromatic and darkens in color.4.
Add the tomato paste to the spices and cook it until it deepens in color, about 1-2 minutes. Now, pour in your tomatoes. Continue to cook until the tomatoes reduce slightly, 3-4 minutes.5.
Add coconut milk and vegetable broth to the pot. Simmer for about 5 minutes.6.
Now, add the drained lentils. Cover the pot and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the curry is thick.7.
Add spinach into the curry until it wilts.8.
Add lemon juice and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, so the dal continues to thicken and becomes luscious. Feel free to simmer further to reach your desired consistency.9.
Garnish the dal with chopped cilantro and serve with naan, flatbread, quinoa or rice.