Tweaked from Jamie Oliver’s Comfort Food
It’s becoming common knowledge that a few vegan meals here and there are an easy way to be kind to your body, to animals and to the planet. You don’t have to make the switch to total vegetarianism to get a few more plant-based proteins in your diet and reduce your carbon footprint. But it’s a good idea to get some go-to veggie meals into the weekly rotation.
Coming in a range of colours (green, red, yellow, black and brown) and with names like ‘puy’, ‘black beluga’ and ‘petite estoria’ – the list of lentil varieties is very lengthy. The darker varieties usually hold their shape while the red and yellow break down into a puree consistency.
In this recipe, we swapped black for split red lentils to shorten the cooking time. Split red lentils are a little less nutritious – but if the convenience convinces you to eat lentils versus not – go with the red. (If you have the time, try a black or brown lentil and let it simmer away for hours.) Split red lentils will soften much more quickly so you can dig into that pot of daal in no time!
Tweaks: we swapped butter and regular cream for coconut oil and coconut cream to make this dish vegan. It’s delicious either way, so proceed as you wish!
2 cups split red lentils
~3 cups water
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1½ inches fresh ginger
1 Tbsp garam masala
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
½ veggie bouillon cube (look for msg-free)
¾ of a 14-oz can or jar of tomato (whole or crushed is fine – if whole – you’ll want to chop ‘em up a bit)
1/3 cup coconut cream
½ bunch cilantro
rice to serve (we used black rice)
1. Combine lentils and water in a pot, after bringing to a boil, turn the heat down to let it simmer for 20 minutes or so until the lentils start to absorb the water and break apart.
2. While the lentils are cooking, peel the onion, garlic and ginger then throw them all into a food processor and pulse until they’ve formed a nice paste.
3. In a large cast iron skillet or saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp coconut oil and add the spices (garam masala, coriander, cumin and cinnamon) and fry together for a minute or so. Next stir in the onion, garlic, ginger mix and sauté for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring regularly. (Add a little splash of water to lift the sticky stuff off the bottom of the pan if necessary.) Next, add the canned tomatoes and the bouillon cube.
4. At this point, the lentils should be ready to add to the spice-tomato mix. Stir in and bring the mix to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer away happily on the stove for awhile. Keep an eye on it and stir every once and awhile, scraping the edges and bottom of the pan.
5. Once your whole mix is coming together nicely, and much of the water and excess liquid is absorbed and looking kinda caramel-y (after 30 minutes or so), stir in the coconut cream.
6. Serve your daal over rice or with some naan and top with some fresh cilantro leaves.