Dal is a staple in Indian households. This recipe for vegan indian dal is certain to be a hit with you and your family!
Since becoming a vegan household, we have discovered and become enamored with Indian food. We began with experimenting with different tastes in restaurants because Indian food is often vegan or easily prepared as a vegan dish. We have had great discussions with owners and cooks over the yumminess of the plant based dishes which, on any good Indian food menu, are abundant.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Because we love to cook, we started to experiment with making Indian food at home and realized that once you have the commonly used spices on hand, the recipes are often really quite simple. The basic ingredients are usually legumes, vegetables, rice and/or potatoes, standard pantry fare, and can be substituted with a good degree of flexibility. Making it at home also allows you to create amazing and healthy dishes using less fat. Plus there are some excellent resources like Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen that can really get you started.
I encourage you to try and find good quality spices. I have had good success at a local coop and a health food store, both selling herbs and spices in bulk and Greg recently found a fabulous Indian market in a nearby town. I find these shopping experiences to be the most fun and I love supporting local and small businesses. That being said, if you totally strike out in your area, you can easily get them on line.
Making the Vegan Indian Dal with Spinach
This dal recipe I initially modified to be vegan. As my confidence in cooking Indian food grew, I changed it further to make the dish, in my opinion, tastier and creamier. I love this dish. It is inexpensive, beautiful on a plate, and the smells in my house when I am making it make everyone happy to be home for dinner. I serve it on rice and always figure on at least one to one and a half cups per person.
- 2 cups yellow split peas
- 4+ cups water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 Tbs hot red chili sauce (I use Sriracha), add more to taste
- 1 lb. spinach rinsed and chopped (I use frozen chopped leaf spinach)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp curry
- 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
- Cooked rice
- Rinse split peas and place in a large sauce pan or pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Boil for about five minutes, turn the heat off and let them soak for 2-3 hours. (If you don’t have the time for that, you can substitute red lentils, which require much less cooking time.)
- Add about a cup of water and bring it back to a boil, adding salt, turmeric and the chili sauce.
- Reduce the heat to medium and stir frequently until the peas are tender (~20 minutes or so). If it starts getting to thick, add a little more water to keep it moving easily in the pot.
- While the peas are cooking, warm the oil in a small frying pan over medium heat and add the chopped onion, mustard seeds and cumin, stirring often. Cook until onions are transparent. Add to the pot once the peas are tender.
- Stir in the coconut milk, garam masala, and curry. When well blended add the spinach and cook until heated through.
- Serve over cooked rice.