Easy Dal Dinner

Lentil Dal Dinner

Lentils are (surprisingly) a favorite in our house, finding their way into all manner of weeknight dinners, salads, and soups. As grain bowls make regular appearances at the table these days, lentils show up there, too. In a recent quest to find more ways to serve this versatile, inexpensive, plant-based protein, I began digging into dals. Here’s what I learned: “dal” (also dahl or dhal) is derived from the Sanskrit word for “split” and refers to any “pulse,” be it lentil, bean or pea. Dal is also what’s made from dals — typically a sauce-y mix of spice and pulse. I’ve begun stirring up the recipe below as the start of an easy Indian meal. It’s quick and delicious. Add tofu, rice and whatever sautéed veggies you picked up at the farmers market to round out your dinner. Or simply scoop the dal from your pot with a spoon. No judgement here.

Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups dried lentils (I like brown or green for their versatility)
  • 3 cups water or broth


  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add onion and sauté for five minutes or until onion begins to brown.
  2. Add ginger, garlic and spices and sauté for one minute more.
  3. Add lentils and stir to coat in spices and oil. Then add water or broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  4. Serve with rice, pan-fried tofu, sautéed or roasted vegetables or diced fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro.