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During the cooler months we make a large batch of dahl at least twice a month. Dahl is filled with nourishing, inexpensive and readily available ingredients and has to be one of the most uncomplicated recipes to make. Like our Three-Bean Chili, it is a dish we crave if we’ve not eaten it for a while. Watching the whole family sit down and soak up the scent of the warming spices, dip in a chapati or scoop up a mouthful with vegan yogurt and rice makes us very satisfied cooks.   Reprinted with permission from The Plant-Based Family Cookbook by Claire Swift and Sarah Biagetti, Page Street Publishing Co. 2021. Photo credit: Claire Swift

Lentil, Coconut and Spinach Dahl [Vegan]

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Ingredients You Need for Lentil, Coconut and Spinach Dahl [Vegan]

For the Dahl:
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Thumb-size piece fresh ginger (20 g), grated
  • 1 small fresh red chili
  • 1 tablespoon (16 g) tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) garam masala
  • 11/3 cups (250 g) dried split red lentils
  • 1 (14-oz [400-g]) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (13.5-oz [380-ml]) can coconut milk
  • 1 cup (150 g) fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 cup (240 ml) boiling water
  • 31/3 cups (100 g) fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 cup (15 g) fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Pinch salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To Serve: 

  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Fresh chili slices
  • Fresh sliced tomatoes
  • Unsweetened vegan coconut yogurt
  • Naan bread or chapatis
  • Brown rice

How to Prepare Lentil, Coconut and Spinach Dahl [Vegan]

  1. Pour the oil into a large, deep saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the garlic, grated ginger, fresh chili and tomato puree and stir for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the cumin, coriander, mustard seeds, turmeric and garam masala. Allow the spices to cook through for a few minutes, until everything in the pan is soft and fragrant.
  2. Tip in the lentils, chopped tomatoes, coconut milk and cherry tomatoes. Crumble over the vegetable stock cube and pour in the boiling water. Stir thoroughly and bring the dahl to a simmer. Cover the pan with a lid, leaving the stirring spoon in to create a small gap for the steam to escape.
  3. Cook for 30 minutes until the lentils have softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach leaves, cilantro and lemon juice.
  4. Taste the dahl and add more lemon juice, if needed, then season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and cook until the spinach leaves have wilted. Eat straight away or enhance the flavor by cooking over low heat for 25 more minutes.
  5. Spoon the dahl into bowls, top with fresh cilantro leaves, a few slices of chili, slices of tomato and a dollop of coconut yogurt, and serve with your favorite flatbread or rice.
  6. Once the dahl is fully cooled, portion into airtight containers and store in the fridge for up to 2 days or freeze. Defrost thoroughly before reheating.
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