Spiced Coconut Dal

red lentil, coconut, vegan, dal, gluten-free, plant protein, fiber, spices, savory, tempeh, egg

Sometimes there are those weekends that are just purely AMAZING.  When every moment and every second engulfs your entire being in a beautiful way. The weekends that are long enough to let you relax, take a deep slow breath, and be thankful for how good life is. When everything falls into place, perfectly and naturally, better than you could have even imagined.

That was my weekend. Three days of pure fun, filled with love and happiness. The skies were blue, the sun kissed my face, and the smell of fir trees cleared my busy mind. If only….. every weekend, was three days long.

Now I am back home, back in my routine, and daydreaming of the days passed, still smelling the lingering hint of campfire smoke on my jacket. I also created another delicious recipe to share with you—a spiced coconut dal made with red lentils. I have been making it every weekend to have around during the week. It’s so good that neither I nor my husband can seem to get enough, and its already the fourth time I have made it. The reason I love it, besides the fabulous flavor of course, is that is comes together super quick. It is beyond easy and incredibly nutritious. For all of you wanting to add more plant based protein and fiber to your diet, this recipe is for you! Make it and watch it disappear!

red lentils, protein, fiberbay leaf, cumin, fenugreek, mustard seed, turmeric, cayenne, Indian, dal, lentil, coconut

Besides that it tastes great, and is super easy to make, this dal is also incredibly healthy! Lentils are legume ROCKSTARS. Firstly, they do not require soaking or long cook times like other beans. Therefore, they are a great option for the quick weeknight meals. Secondly, they are rich in plant protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals, specifically iron and B vitamins.

So lets address the protein first. One cup of cooked lentils provides about 18g of plant-based protein, or about a third of daily protein needs based upon a 2000kcal diet. That is quite a bit! Secondly, this same cup of lentils provides about 16g of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends 25-38g of fiber per day for women and men respectively? And did you know that most Americans do not even come close to getting that amount per day??  The benefits of having both the rich amount of protein and fiber together in one food is that feelings of satiety increase without adding a lot of calories to your meal. In addition, they help repair your muscles and keep you regular! Thirdly, lentils are rich in B vitamins, which help increase your metabolism and give you energy. So not only do they help you feel full longer, they also help you burn your fuel more efficiently! These little wonders are also rich in plant-based iron, which is absolutely necessary to keep your red blood cells fit and your energy up. Just make sure to eat them with something rich in vitamin C (like a tomato) to increase the absorption.

Now you know a little bit about why these little legumes are so great. In addition, more often than not lentils are also cooked with spices and herbs that offer additional healthy benefits. In this recipe I cook the lentils with a whole bunch of different culinary spices all of which offer potent antioxidant support. So yay to spices and yay to lentils! And most definitely yay to tasting DELICIOUS!

Spiced Coconut Dal
Makes about 5 cups

1 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds 
½ medium yellow onion
¼ teaspoon cayenne
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder 
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1 ½ cups split red lentils
1 roma tomato, diced
3 cups water
½ can full fat coconut milk
4 bay leaves


In a medium sauce pan heat ghee (or coconut oil) over medium heat. Add the cumin, mustard, and fenugreek seeds, and sauté until they start popping. Then add the onion and continue to sauté until glassy.

Once the onion is glassy add the cayenne, chipotle powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric, as well as sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir to mix well. Then add the lentils, tomato, and the fresh water. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Once the lentils are bubbling, reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook lentils for about 10 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and 4 bay leaves and continue to simmer until lentils are tender, about another 10 minutes.

Store lentils in a glass container and refrigerate. They will thicken as they cool. Serve as a side or as an entree.

Note: I like to sauté diced yellow onion and tempeh until browned. Then I throw in 2 handfuls of baby spinach and heat until wilted. Season with salt and pepper and then top lentils with the sautéed mixture. Garnish with fermented sauerkraut for extra probiotic benefits. OR top lentils with sautéed onion and spinach and top with a fried pasture-raised egg. Both are super yummy!!

1. Bouchenak M, Lamri-Senhadji L. Nutritional Quality of Legumes and Their Role in Cardiometabolic Risk Prevention: A Review. Journal of Medicinal Food. 2013;16(3):185-198
2. World’s Healthiest Foods. Lentils. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=52. Accessed February 18, 2015.
3. Gamonski W. Lentils: The Elite Legume. Life Extension. 2013. 85-88.

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