Looking for an easy, flavorful and comforting weeknight dinner? Look no further than this Vegan Red Lentil Dal Tadka. Though most people are used to ordering this out in a restaurant, dal is such a wonderfully simple dish to make at home. This version can be made right on the stovetop, is vegan, oil free, gluten free and extremely high in protein. Once you get the hang of dal, you’ll be making it every week!
Why you’ll love this Vegan Dal Tadka…
-Easy and quick for a weeknight meal
-Filling and comforting
-Naturally dairy and gluten free!
-Oil free and low in fat
Why are Lentils so good for you?
Lentils are high in protein and fiber, while being extremely low in fat. They are also very rich in vitamins and minerals. High in Folate, an essential B vitamin, you can get 80% of your recommended daily intake of folate from 1 cup of lentils. Lentils are also rich in iron, potassium, copper, and manganese.
There is a common misconception that vegans have a difficult time getting enough iron in their diet. A one cup serving of cooked lentils gets you to 40% of your recommended daily intake. Surprisingly this is even higher than the iron content of beef per serving.
It’s easy to see why everyone should make lentils a regular part of their diet.
More health benefits of this recipe
This Dal also contains turmeric. Turmeric has recently gained popularity and become a trendy ingredient in lattes, teas, and other savory dishes. However, people have been consuming turmeric for it’s health benefits and flavor for centuries.
More than 5000 medical articles have been published recently about the health benefits of turmeric. Known as extremely powerful antioxidant, it has been studied vigorously for it’s anti-cancer effects. Not only has it been shown to prevent tumors from growing in the first place, but it can also potentially halt present tumors from growing further.
A close relative on turmeric, ginger also has extremely high anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation in the body can lead to long term stress that results in diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, or cancer. Consuming ginger on a regular basis can act as a powerful mitigator against inflammation.
It has also been shown to ease menstrual pain and help regulate blood sugar levels. This can be especially helpful to diabetics. Just another several reasons to eat ginger!
Tips for making delicious Vegan Red Lentil Dal Tadka
Do not over stir
While the lentils are cooking in the pot, take care not to stir them too much. One good stir at the beginning to combine all the ingredients, and then 1-2 more stirs while cooking is optimal. This allows the starches to build up, and you will get a creamier texture.
Use a whisk
Once the lentils are soft and cooked, use a whisk to break up the lentils and create a creamy consistency. Using a vigorous whisking motion, helps the lentils to break down and amalgamate. You will get that rich creamy texture that is desired with dal.
Toast your spices
Toasting the mustard and cumin seeds in a heated pan, before adding the onion, will really bring out their flavors. Normally, this would be done with the addition of oil, but since we are trying to keep this oil free, it is perfectly fine to toast them in a dry pan. Once you add the onions, they will release water, so that nothing will stick to your pan.
Just take care not to over toast. You want them to be fragrant, but not burnt. A medium low to medium heat is best for this.
Looking for a Dal recipe to make in your Instant Pot? Try our Easy Vegan Instant Pot Dal!
Vegan Red Lentil Dal Tadka
- 1 cup red lentils rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger, minced ginger, or ginger paste
- 1/2 tsp cardamom omit if you don't have on hand
- 1/2 - 1 tsp salt salt to taste
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 onion diced
- 4-6 cloves of garlic minced or pressed
- 1 bird's eye or thai green chili use serrano or jalapeño if you can't find others
- 1 small tomato or 1/2 of large tomato diced
- 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro optional
- Squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice optional
- In a medium or large heavy bottomed pot, dutch oven or stew pot, combine rinsed lentils with 4 cups of water, bay leaf, turmeric, ginger and cardamom.
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low to simmer for about 25-35 minutes, until lentils are soft. Do not over stir. It is best to stir once at the beginning to combine the ingredients, and no more than 1-2 times more.
- While they lentils are simmering, add first the mustard seeds to a small to medium sauté pan on medium heat. When the mustard seeds start popping, add in the cumin seeds. Let these sauté, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add onion to the pan, and continue to sauté on medium low to medium heat, until the onions are soft and start to brown a bit.
- Once the onions have turned a nice golden brown, add the garlic and green chili. Sauté for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the diced tomato and the curry powder, and continue to saute on medium low for an additonal 7-10 minutes, until tomatoes have broked down and onions are soft.
- When the lentils are done cooking and they have reached a soft consitency, turn off the heat. Using a standard whisk or even a fork, whisk the lentils vigorously until a creamy texture starts to form. This will take about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tadka ingredients from the sauté pan directly into the pot of lentils and stir gently to combine.
- Add salt to your taste and stir in fresh cilantro. Serve with a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice and your choice of rice.