For the past 7 weeks I've been on this alcohol-free challenge, and one of my goals for this period has been to lose some weight. I've been eating this soup regularly for dinner, which works really well at the end of the day. But for lunch I've been wanted something more hearty, and this dal really hits the spot. It's comfort food without the calories.
Split peas are low on the glycemic index so, despite the low calorie count (338 per serving), this dish will keep you feeling full for longer. Each serve also packs in around 11 grams of fiber, and 15 grams of protein, not to mention all the goodness from the spices. This dal is incredibly healthful, and ideal for vegetarians, or anyone on a gluten-free or dairy-free diet.
Dal comes in many varieties, and I wanted this version to be thick, and to taste decadent without any of the guilt. To get this textured and creamy consistency, I soaked the lentils in water overnight, and then left the dal to simmer on a low heat for around 3 hours. You want the split peas to gently break down, and for the complex flavors to marry.
Speaking of flavor... Lots of dal recipes call for a huge number of individual spices, which can make the dish expensive and time-consuming to prepare. I don’t believe it’s necessary to go down that route for a delicious dal, so I’ve kept things simple in this recipe by using garam masala (which I suggest you buy ready-made). Other than the time commitment required in the soaking and simmering processes, this recipe is quick and easy to make.
I've been eating this dal straight-up, with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a handful of fresh cilantro, but if you're not on a weight-loss program you could enjoy it more traditionally over rice with a side of naan bread. It’s a versatile dish, and another option would be to serve it as a side to chicken or fish.
- 2 cups of moong dal (skinned yellow split peas)
- 3 cups of water
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced diced
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp ginger root, peeled and finely chopped or minced
- ½ - 1 tsp chili flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cups sweet potato, peeled and diced (butternut squash would also be delicious)
- 4-5 cups stock. I used this homemade chicken bone broth, but vegetable stock would work equally well.
- Optional: Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro to serve
- Rinse the split peas thoroughly until the water runs clear, and remove any discolored grains. Then soak overnight in 3 cups of water.
- In a large pot, saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in the coconut oil on medium heat until softened, around 2 minutes.
- Add the chili flakes, turmeric, and garam masala, and saute until aromatic, around 1 minute.
- Now add the tomato, and stir to deglaze the pan.
- Add the sweet potato, split peas (with their soaking water), and stock. Stir to combine.
- Once the mixture is simmering, reduce the heat to low.
- Allow the dal to simmer, stirring occasionally, for around 2.5 - 3.5 hours.
- At around the 2.5 hour mark, taste the dal to assess the consistency. You can add more stock if it's too thick, or you can continue cooking it if you'd like it to be a bit creamier. I cooked mine for just over 3 hours, removing the lid after 2.5 hours, and I used 5 cups of stock.