Dal was the first thing I thought to make when I saw the giant head of cauliflower in my box last week. It’s a classic Indian stew made with a base of lentils (the word can also refer to the lentils themselves), and its thick texture and warm flavors are perfect for the cold, rainy days we’ve had lately. Anyway, after an overzealous trip to Whole Foods a while back, I ended up with a large amount of red lentils. Red lentils + cauliflower = awesome dal. The lentils will break down almost completely as they cook, so don’t be surprised.
This version is vegan, but you can use butter or ghee if you’d rather, instead of oil. I also added some cilantro and green onions at the end to lighten up the flavor a bit. Not that this dish is heavy in terms of calories, but the flavor of curry powder and the starchy base benefit from a bright kick of cilantro and onions at the end.
Cauliflower Dal (adapted from Fat-Free Vegan)
1.5 cups red lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp. turmeric
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (use less if want this less spicy)
1 tsp. minced ginger
16 oz. diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (or half of a large head)
1/2 cup water
Sliced green onions
Add lentils to a pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until they are tender, about 20 minutes.
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet. When hot, add the curry powder and stir. Cook for 30 seconds, until the powder becomes fragrant. Add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and minced ginger. Stir and cook until the onion softens, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, and water, and stir. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes.
When the lentils and cauliflower are both done, add the lentils to the cauliflower mixture. Stir well, and check seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot, over rice, and garnish with cilantro and green onions.