I hope you’re ready for this recipe, because let me tell you: lentils have never tasted this good!
Full disclosure: I didn’t eat lentils for the first time until my mid-twenties.
Up until then, I always thought of them as just being an ingredient in soups, and a pretty boring one at that.
Nutritionally, lentils are an excellent source of fiber and may help lower total and LDL cholesterol levels. They’re also packed with B vitamins, which are important for metabolism, as well as zinc and potassium.
Plus, they’re a super affordable source of protein. They also happen to be the star ingredient in many Indian recipes.
Dal, also commonly spelled dahl or dhal in English, can refer to split legumes such as lentils, and it is also the name of a thick Indian stew made from this ingredient.
While there are many different variations of dal, they’re usually quick to make and feature a variety of warm Indian spices.
Now, the key to a good dal is to layer on the flavors. This means that instead of just throwing everything into the pan at once, we’re going to gradually add ingredients to the mix, so that each one shines.
This also means that it’s important to pay attention to your heat level on the stove, and how quickly the ingredients are cooking.
Just because the recipe calls for sauteing the onions over medium heat doesn’t mean that you should uphold this instruction above all else, and ignore what your senses of sight and smell are telling you. Depending on your stove, you may need to adjust the heat up or down for even cooking and to achieve the correct level of doneness.
A final tip for making this type of dal is to use red lentils. Also called red split lentils or masoor dal, these cook faster than other varieties and will lose their shape during cooking to result in a softer, less chewy texture than what you might find with whole varieties.
I also like them for their nutty, slightly sweet flavor.
For even more nutrition and fiber, this recipe also includes fresh carrots, rainbow chard, and red potatoes.
Swiss chard, which includes colorful rainbow chard (actually a collection of cultivars with differently colored leaves and stems, grown and bundled together to create a rainbow mix), provides seven times the recommended daily value (DV) for vitamin K, twice the DV for vitamin A, and 53% of the DV for vitamin C in a one-cup serving.
It’s also a good source of many other vitamins and minerals including magnesium, calcium, copper, zinc, and vitamin E.
It’s perfect simply sauteed with a few additional ingredients, but I love it in this hearty dal!
When you’re buying it, look for chard with bright green leaves that aren’t wilted, and firm stalks. While rainbow chard has those pretty multi-colored stems, any type of Swiss chard will work for this recipe.
If you’re interested in growing your own, you can read more about it on our sister site, Gardener’s Path.Print
This carrot, rainbow chard, and red potato dal is a healthy vegan meal packed with warming spices. Made in just one pan, you’re going to love this recipe.
- 2 tablespoons avocado, canola, or coconut oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium onion, sliced thinly
- 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and torn roughly
- 2 large red potatoes, diced
- 1/2 cup red lentils
- 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
- Add oil to a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Cook while stirring constantly until spices are fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.
- Add sliced onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add carrots and cook until starting to brown, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add Swiss chard and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add potatoes, red lentils, and water or stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then stir constantly for 1 minute while continuing to cook.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through and lentils are very tender. Enjoy immediately.
- Category: Stew
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: dal, Indian, carrot, rainbow chard, red potato, lentil
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Chop Vegetables and Measure Ingredients
First, wash all of the produce well.
Dice the potatoes. I like to scrub them well and keep the skins on for this dish – there are healthy nutrients in those peels!
Next, get out your favorite vegetable peeler. Peel and chop the carrots. Remove the stems from the Swiss chard and roughly chop or tear the leaves. You can save the stems for another use, such as in a stir fry or homemade vegetable stock.
Now, it’s time to raid your spice rack and pantry! Measure out all of the remaining ingredients. Sort the lentils to remove any pebbles or grit, and rinse them well under cool running water in a colander. The choice of oil in this recipe is up to you, but I prefer to use one with a high smoke point.
Step 2 – Add Spices and Vegetables to a Saute Pan
First, temper the spices to release their aroma. In Indian cooking, this is a concept referred to as tadka, and it’s often done at the very beginning or the very end of creating a dish to add extra layers of flavor.
Add the oil to a large, deep skillet and place it over medium heat. Allow it to heat up for a few minutes, until it is starting to shimmer but not smoking. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Freshly ground pepper is the preferred choice, for the best flavor.
Cook until the spices are fragrant while stirring constantly, for about 30-60 seconds.
Add the sliced onions and saute until they are soft and translucent, for 3-5 minutes.
Next, add the carrots and saute until they are starting to brown, for 5-7 minutes.
Add the Swiss chard leaves and stir them in. Saute until they have wilted and shrunk in size, for about 2 minutes.
Step 3 – Add Potatoes and Lentils
Add the potatoes, red lentils, and water or stock to the skillet, and stir them in. Bring the mixture to a boil, then stir constantly for 1 minute while continuing to cook.
Step 4 – Simmer, Then Serve
Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender and the lentils have softened and begun to break down.
Enjoy immediately, served over rice if you like, and topped with a dollop of vegan yogurt or cashew cream.
Enjoy Plant-Based Meals That Are Big on Flavor
You don’t have to be vegan to reap the benefits of eating more plant-based meals.
In fact, a 2017 review published in Frontiers in Nutrition Journal found that “flexitarian” diets, where intake of meat is significantly reduced but not completely eliminated, have been shown to help with weight loss, reducing blood pressure, and preventing type 2 diabetes.
Besides being good for your health, eating more vegetables and plant-based proteins can also be easier on your wallet. But of course, what matters most is that plant-based doesn’t have to mean lacking in flavor.
This dish is such a delicious example of that!
After trying this veggie-packed dal, give one of these other meatless recipes a try:
- Spicy Curry Noodles with Tofu and Mushrooms
- Slow-Cooked Black Beans and Poblano Pepper Baked Taquitos
- Roasted Butternut Squash and Black Rice with Hemp-Miso Dressing
What are your go-to meatless meals? Share in the comments below, and be sure to leave a 5-star rating to let other readers know how much you loved this recipe!
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on May 28, 2015. Last updated on February 12, 2020. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD
Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.