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Red Lentil Dal

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

"One day, while Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the field and was famished. He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am famished...Then Jacob gave some bread and lentil stew to Esau” Genesis 25:29-30, 34

In this biblical story from the book of Genesis, Esau sells his birthright to his brother Jacob in exchange for some "red stew" which the later verse describes as "lentil stew". Thus, I do believe Jacob cooked up some pretty fabulous red lentil stew!

Red lentils should be available in any large grocery store or Indian grocer. They are actually only red until they are cooked. Once cooked they turn a golden yellow. They are a very quick-cooking legume packed with lots of fiber and iron. With their slightly milder, sweeter taste than brown or green lentils they make an excellent choice for soups and stews.

In this very fast, easy recipe I use an Indian spice mixture meant for chana masala (an Indian dish made with chick peas). Thus, I have given it the name "Dal" instead of "stew". Dal in the Sanskrit language can refer to any dried lentils, beans or peas that generally cook relatively quickly (also called "pulses") or it can refer to the dish made with such lentils. For this recipe I used a chana dal masala spice mix which you can get here, but garam masala, which you should be able to find in the spice aisle of your grocery store, would do nicely too. Serve this over brown basmati rice, add a green salad and you have yourself a nourishing, comforting meal! Happy Plant-Based Eating!

Red Lentil Dal

Serves 6 with rice

2 1/4 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained

5 cups water

1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)

5 oz frozen spinach (I used 1/2 of a 10 oz bag)

1 1/2 Tablespoons Chana Masala Seasoning (or use garam masala spice)

1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro, as garnish, optional

Place rinsed lentils and water in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer. Cover pot with a lid, tilted to let steam escape, and cook about 10 minutes or until lentils have broken down and are tender.

While lentils cook, sauté the onion in a fry pan with about 1/4 cup water for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté about 1-2 more minutes adding more water as needed to prevent sticking.

When lentils are cooked, add the spice mix, tomatoes, spinach and the onion/garlic mixture to the soup pot. Continue to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro if desired. Enjoy!


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