baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

copyright jennifer yu © 2004-2023 all rights reserved: no photos or content may be reproduced without prior written consent

head spinning fun

Recipe: indian dal

I hope you all had a good weekend. I think I had a good one, assuming I can remember everything that’s been happening. Perhaps that is why I take so many photographs – to jog my crappy memory? Our lecture/workshop at Denver Botanic Gardens was great. We had a lively and fun crew at the cooking workshop on Friday – really engaging and wonderful people. Todd and Diane taught how to make their signature amazing Viet spring rolls, Manisha demoed onion fritters with two chutneys and chai, and I made Chinese scallion pancakes.

sarah of dbg welcomes everyone

sniffing herbs that todd and diane brought from their garden

introduction to more herbs

There was plenty of nibbling and sampling of the goodies as well as laughs. I love workshops that have great participants because I think they are the other (very important) half of the equation. First, you need a great team running the show and then you need enthusiastic, friendly, and hard working people on the receiving end. They give back too. It’s all a give and take. That’s what makes it so special and ultimately rewarding for me.

diane schools us on nuoc cham while todd crushes garlic

mmmm, spring rolls!

manisha mixes the onions to make fritters

just pick up a small amount and drop it in the hot oil

After a jam-packed exhausting 24 hours, Todd and Diane came to our place (after we dined at The Pinyon – AMAZING dinner) to spend some time with Kaweah. We have a lot of visitors lined up this month, so Kaweah is getting pretty spoiled. But I think she especially loves Todd and Diane, which makes sense because they are two of my most favorite people on this good planet.

she’s not even supposed to be on the couch

who me?


definitely spoiled

I had signed up for a canning class at Escoffier Boulder (formerly Culinary School of the Rockies) almost two months ago. I’ve been wanting to learn to can properly at my altitude for several months now – always looking longingly at 1) all of the great produce coming out of friends’ gardens and 2) all of the canning my friends did with their bounties. At long last I could learn how to do it safely. The home cook classes at Escoffier are awesome. My fellow students were all spunky and eager to learn which made it doubly terrific.

my partner prepping beets

cutting pears for the pear and vanilla bean jam

tomatoes to be turned into basil garlic tomato sauce

into the hot water bath

pickled beets, ftw!!

Before I embark on my next trip (in less than 7 hours), I have to talk about a recent addition to my soup repertoire. They are predicting a snowstorm this week at home while I’ll be turning back the clock on fall and shooting colors elsewhere. There is nothing I love more in winter than to curl up with a hot bowl of soup after a good ski. I really dig on salads in summer, soups in winter. Sandwiches are a year-round affair (and I do mean affair as in love affair). One soup that I’ve been craving of late is dal.

red lentils (dal)

shake them out on a baking sheet to pick out imposters

Ever since I overcame my activation potential to learn to make Indian food, I’ve been picking my way through a few favorites when I’ve found a rare spare moment. Dal is red lentils. It is also the name of this lentil dish. I’ve seen it range from a thick stew-like consistency to a soup. Manisha told me that she likes her dal to be practically disintegrating, and that’s how I like mine too.

olive oil, tomatoes, dal, onion, garlic, ginger, spices, and a jalapeño in hiding

diced, minced, grated, soaked

I had no idea how straightforward this recipe was. I’ve made dal several times in the past couple of months – double batches – and we never tire of it. It’s totally satisfying to eat on its own or with some garlic naan.

sauté garlic, ginger, onions, and spices

add everything else

The recipe from Whole Foods calls for vegetable broth, but I’ve seen many other versions use water. I tried it with the water and you know what? It has plenty of flavor. I really don’t think there is the need for broth, but go with your gut. I doubled the amount of liquid so I could enjoy my dal soupy. Some lemon juice at the end really brightens the whole thing. Dal puts a rosy glow on my face.

lemon juice to taste

soup is on!

Indian Dal
[print recipe]
from Whole Foods Market

2 cups red lentils
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsps finely chopped ginger
4 cups vegetable broth or water (I used water and doubled it to 8 cups for a soupy dal)
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes, with juice
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp ground turmeric
salt to taste
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
1 lemon, juice of

Pour lentils out onto a large shallow baking sheet and pick out any stones or random stuff. Rinse and drain the lentils. In a large pot, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until they are soft, about 5 minutes, then add the cumin seeds, cardamom, garlic, and ginger. Stir together while cooking for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Pour in the remaining ingredients except for the lemon juice. If you want a stew-like dal then use 4 cups of liquid (vegetable broth or water). If you prefer a soupier dal like I do, then use 8 cups of liquid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft, stirring frequently. I like to let it cook for 30 minutes, because I prefer lentils that are disintegrating. Stir in the lemon juice before serving. Serves 6-8.

24 nibbles at “head spinning fun”

  1. Linda says:

    That sounds so yummy! I will be putting it on my list. Here in the San Diego area, it’s still mild, but they are predicting rain. Maybe next weekend I’ll give it a whirl. I just happen to have some red lentils in the cupboard.

    Whenever I see Kaweah, I think of my grandpuppy Rowdy. The sweet, loving faces on Black Labs can just melt your heart. Give her a hug for me.


  2. Rumpy Drummond says:

    That looks like such great fun you’ve had! And I think Kaweah is cool! Let her on the couch!

  3. Magda says:

    I’m sorry but whenever I see photos of Kaweah I can’t concentrate on anything else.

  4. TheKitchenWitch says:

    Dal is one of my favorite comfort foods! I like it almost like mush, not soupy. It’s not authentic that way, but that’s the way I like it :)

  5. Linda says:

    You just solve my dinner dilemma. Thanks! And I think in her advancing years that Kaweah deserves the couch on special occasions.

  6. Susanne says:

    I’m off to the market right now for these ingredients! I love, love, love your blog, Jen. I love your blog AND your dog. Thanks for doing what you do.

  7. Virginia says:

    what Magda said (:

  8. Bev Weidner says:

    Looooove this. I could nibble on the dog.

    That’s not supposed to be weird.

  9. Chris @nestlefoodie says:

    What a fun time! Absolutely love the pics with Todd, Diane and your pup. I must meet Kaweah!!

  10. Shweta Natarajan says:

    In India, we follow the same recipe as you (definitely using only water, not veggie broth) , but we add a teaspoon of paprika and a quarter teaspoon of turmeric powder, then put the entire thing in a pressure cooker, and let it cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes. If you have a pressure cooker, making dal is super easy, and you can have disintegrating lentils in no time. But, if you don’t have a pressure cooker (like me), you can soak the lentils in water for 3-4 hours beforehand, changing the water every hour so that the lentils don’t have a fermented taste. This way, they will be easier to cook.

    I’m glad you like dal :) I think its Indian cuisine’s best kept secret !

  11. Susan says:

    Love dal and spring rolls.
    Your Kaweah is a beautiful pup.
    Looks like a very fun time was had by all.
    I will definitely try your dal recipe.
    Thank you for sharing your lovely experiences and photography.

  12. Matt Wrench says:

    I’m usually hesitant to make Indian food. I always assume I need 30 different ingredients, but this couldn’t be easier. (Also, all my Indian recipes use chicken or beef. Always happy to find a nice veggie option instead.)

  13. ARC says:

    Dal is divine when you’re sick. I crave hot and salty when I’m not feeling well, and it’s perfect for that. Despite the name of your blog, I really appreciate that you post so many recipes I can make for BabyT with her stupid dairy allergy ;)

  14. Christine says:

    What beautiful photos of some beautiful people. I just love Kaweah’s puppy face. She’s so stinkin cute.

  15. salena says:

    Your dog has the sweetest little face!

  16. Margie says:

    I was so busy staring at the puppy that I almost forgot about the recipe. ;)
    Red lentils are so yummy and this recipe is poetry in motion.

  17. jenyu says:

    Linda – oh I know, I love me a black lab… or a lab… or any dog, really :)

    Rumpy Drummon – yes, not to worry. Kaweah ALWAYS gets on the couch for a cuddle.

    Magda – :)

    TKW – I’ve seen it served mushy. Looks good, but I’m such a fan of soups when the weather is cold (and besides, we always have to hydrate in Colorado, right?) :)

    Susanne – awww, thank you. That is just so sweet. xo

    Virginia – ha ha ha!

    Bev – it’s not weird, and she wouldn’t mind either. She’ll lick your pants and toes if you let her ;)

    Chris – she’s right here in Colorado! Come back and say hi.

    Shweta – yes, my pal Manisha said she uses her pressure cooker too. I happen to have one (and love it), so that’s next on my list! Thanks for the tips!!

    Susan – thank you, dear.

    Matt – believe it or not, there may be a long list of ingredients in some of the dishes, but once you have them all gathered and measured (mise en place) then it’s actually very straightforward. I love Indian food for this very reason :)

    ARC – that sucks :( I’m lactose intolerant, but I understand the whole dairy thing. xo

    Christine – thanks!

    Salena – yeah, we’re all suckers for that face ;)

  18. swan says:

    your dal is awesome! thank you Jen!

  19. Indian Dal | From My Home-Grown TV says:

    […] the third time in a row (it’s great though) and threw together something quick. I tried the Indian Dal recipe posted by use real butter last week. I’ve had a print out lying on my kitchen table […]

  20. the saturday soup – recipe link love (winter edition!) Running With Tweezers says:

    […] make just about anything Jen puts on her blog. This Indian Dal is no […]

  21. Alan says:

    I like this recipe but also just tried an amazing prepared set of spices from the oneofakind show in toronto

  22. Soup Swap | The Law School Transplant says:

    […] blogs: A mixed mushroom and wild rice soup from Heidi Swanson’s, and a lovely red lentil dal from Jenn Yu’s […]

  23. Alex says:

    your blog and especially this recipe is so awesome.
    as you said you never tire of it. thx a lot.
    greetings from germany.

  24. Premu Advani says:

    What a great and easy recipe for cooks who are not familiar with Indian foods. you may B2MFalso use Moong Dal(washed )instead too In place of red lentils. …cooks just as fast. If cooked to a thicker consistency it is delicious served with rice. The ultimate comfort food for Indians.

leave a reply