janet @ the taste space

Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini

In Mains (Vegetarian) on November 27, 2012 at 5:40 AM

I was really tempted this weekend. My parents were over and my Dad surprised me with berries for dessert. He was equally surprised when I shared that I wasn’t eating fruit right now. Have no fear, this will likely be temporary.. unless I enjoy it too much. Think all desserts have to be sweetened? Not true! Gabby shared these delicious carob almond butter cups with me and you would never know they were sweetener-free.

Savoury Indian dishes have fuelled me during my sweetener-free challenge. While I have cooked up quite a few Indian dishes, I still feel like a novice to Indian cooking. Pangal, aviyal, dhokla, they are still foreign to me.  I probably don’t even pronounce them properly. Leafing through 660 Curries and 1000 Indian Recipes, I know there are tons of curries and likely 1000s more beyond the pages of these cookbooks.

Thankfully I don’t think I will ever tire of the holy vegan trinity of beans+grains+greens. I eat it every day. These are staples throughout the world. I still have my favourite repeater curries, but like to mix things up with seasonal produce.

Here, this simple savoury red lentil and zucchini curry from World Vegetarian reminds me of Nepalese Dal Bhat and the Split Pea Dal with Ginger and Lime combined with hefty chunks of zucchini. Jaffrey says this dish is typically made with green bottle gourd, instead of zucchini, but the latter is easier to find.

I am a sucker for creamy red lentils and while it didn’t have the zip that dal bhat delivers, it was a great curry. I find that most curries are a bit too watery for my liking, especially if eaten fresh. So, I have suggested starting with less water. You can always add more to thin it out, but it is kind of a pain to boil that extra water away. It will thicken a bit as leftovers as well. I also ended up using less oil, salt and chili and adding more lime.  Definitely season to taste, as I probably could have added more heat with the chile flakes.

Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini

This is my submission to Dom for this month’s Random Recipe (lucky number 25!), to this month’s Pantry Party and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini
Adapted from World Vegetarian

1 cup red lentils, picked, washed, drained
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp oil
4 whole cardamom pods
1 (1-1/2-inch) cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 tsp fresh peeled grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed/pressed
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-cm rounds then quarter crosswise (300g) [I think my chunks were too big, just make sure they are bite-sized pieces]
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes (or cayenne, to taste)
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
juice from 1/2 lime

1.  Boil lentils in 3-4 cups of water with turmeric in a large pot, being careful not to let them boil over, and skimming off the froth that rises. Cover partly, simmer on low for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender.

2. Put the oil in a skillet over medium heat and, when very hot, stir in the cardamom, cinnamon, bay and cumin for a few seconds, add onion and continue to stir until onion is medium brown. Add ginger, garlic, and stir for another minute, then add zucchini, ground pepper, chili flakes and salt and stir for another minute.

3. Add 1/2 cup water, cover, and turn heat to low and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover, stir again, then add these contents of the skillet into the pot with the lentils (I did the reverse). Stir gently to mix and cook on low for 1 minute. Add salt, to taste. Squeeze lime juice over the top before serving with rice (I served it with quinoa).

Serves 4.

  1. I adore Dal… any kind and I love that slightly burnt sweet taste.. a great entry for random recipes, thank you and a very lucky number 25!… enjoy the family visit and don’t get too stressed… thanks for the entry this month x

  2. In the meanwhile, I will enjoy the raspberries with my breakfast 🙂

  3. I am currently on the lookout for recipes that contain zucchini in anticipation of a massive harvest this year (Tasmania Australia) and this one looks delicious. I might ramp up the spicing a bit because I like my dhal tasty and spicy. Cheers for this great recipe and for the others that you mentioned that I will be trying also 🙂

  4. Good for you avoiding temptation! Those peanut butter cups look amazing anyway. 🙂

    Indian food remains one of my favorite cuisines. I’m going to my favorite Kerla restaurant Thursday and it can’t get here soon enough!

  5. Zucchini does sound like a perfect addition to a spicy dal. I need to up my Indian cooking skills too! Dal to the rescue, clearly.

  6. I haven’t made a real curry in a while and I miss them! If anything could make me forget sugar, it would be Indian flavors that’s for sure. This looks like a dish I need to try.

  7. Oh, I adore dal is all its permutations! (Except maybe the recipe I saw once with hard boiled eggs in it. That made my mind screech.) And amen sister to adding more chilli flakes. There should always be more chilli flakes in life.

  8. What a hearty looking soup!

    I’m starting a new blog party called Pantry Party. Maybe you’ll join us! http://lawstudentscookbook.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/introducing-pantry-party/

  9. Any dal is a good dal in my eyes. Sweetener-free challenge? I admire your resilience! I’m doing a green smoothie day today and am just hoping I can get through it 😉

  10. Mmmm warming hearty meals are crucial during this sugar-free challenge! Happy to hear you’re going strong 🙂 This looks delicious!

  11. i can survive on beans and grains.. and dal is pretty much an everyday fixture.:)

  12. LOVE the sound of this!

  13. Mmmm – dahl is amazing, plus courgette is one of my favourite veggies so this is a delicious sounding dish all around!

  14. […] – Chickpeas and Chana dal Cooked Together in a Tamarind-Mint Sauce – Trinidadian Black-Eyed Pea Stew – Nigerian Red Kidney Bean Stew with a Peanut Sauce (recipe elsewhere) – Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini […]

  15. I am a sucker for any kind of dal. This looks hearty and really good. Thanks for sharing it at Souper Sundays.

  16. […] thing I am not lacking from my foods, it is fiber. Mostly due to my love of beans. One serving of Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini gives you 16g of fiber, or 65% of your suggested daily fiber intake. Red Lentil and Spinach Curry […]

  17. […] at The Taste Space shared a hearty looking bowl of Red Lentil Dal with Zucchini. This thick soup is perfect for the cold months and looks like it’s full of flavors. Janet […]

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