Super Spice Red Lentil Vegetable Dal

I've had this red lentil dal in my repertoire of quick healthy meals for years because it's nourishing, nutritious, and just perfect on a cold winter day! I spent some time tweaking different recipes and one day added a cinnamon stick (because I add superfood and spices where ever I can!), and came up with this. The cinnamon stick is the "secret" ingredient.

This is a fairly quick recipe with super anti-inflammatroy spices, such as cinnamon and turmerictwo of the key ingredients (not to be omitted!). And don't be put off by the long-ish list of ingredients. The recipe has an easy flow of chopping, sautéing, and simmering. (Have all of your ingredients at the ready and if you're efficient at chopping veggies, you can do this even while the lentils are simmering with cinnamon and turmeric. Then sauté the garlic, ginger, shallots/onions, and more spices. If you're not so quick chopping veggies, prepare those before you turn on the stove.)

This recipe uses several spices, but I've made this at another person's house and omitted the mustard seeds and it still tasted great. Just don't omit the cinnamon and turmeric. And please stick with the recipe and use only cinnamon stick. (Note: different varieties of lentils cook differently and I've only made this with red lentils because of its cooked consistency.)

The real test of this recipe was serving it to our family friend Geshe Michael Roach and his team when they stayed with us at home a few years ago. Geshe Michael was the first Westerner to be honored the Tibetan Buddhist title of Geshe and he has, as you can imagine, eaten a lot of dal! He and his team loved my dal and asked what was the difference? What was the secret ingredient they couldn't figure out? Of course it's absolutely the cinnamon! Now no longer a 'secret!'

Hope you like it too! To your health and happiness!

xx, Juli

(Serves 4)

  • 1½ cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 - 7 cups water (depends on how big your cauliflower, carrots, potatoes are; add water to thin as necessary)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 small cauliflower (or 1/2 large), cut into florets
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 2cm rounds
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into 2cm chunks
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil (or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots (or 1 small onion), minced
  • 1 small chile pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 - 2 cups cilantro, chopped
  1. In a large pot, bring the water, lentils, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, salt, and turmeric to a boil. 
  2. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have turned into porridge-like consistency, about 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, place a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and mustard seeds, cover and cook until the seeds pop, about 1 minute.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-high and add the cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, onion, and chile. Sauté until the onion begins to brown and become aromatic, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add this mixture of spices to the lentil porridge.
  6. Add the chopped cauliflower, carrots, and potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about another 20 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with cilantro.
  8. Serve with basmati rice.
  9. Enjoy!