Tasty Dal

Tasty Dal

This simple dal is surprisingly tasty. It’s quick. It’s tridoṣic. It’s one of my favorites. I originally titled this, “simple dal” until one friend who does not, shall we say, cook a LOT, exclaimed that it was NOT simple, since he didn’t have all the spices on hand; and another observant acquaintance pointed out that, “simple” dal is made just with dal, water, and turmeric. So….okay, it is not as simple as that. Very true. So….it has a new title 🙂


1 tsp olive oil or ghee (can replace with ¼-1/2 c. white wine or with about a tsp. of oil for Pitta or Kapha, or could even substitute a half cup water and water-sauté them)

1 TB maple syrup (optional)

1 medium-large onion, diced

1 clove garlic, finely diced (optional–omit for increased pitta)

1 TBSP finely chopped, fresh ginger

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

2 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or bottled

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp coriander powder (or freshly ground seeds)

1 TBSP maple syrup

1.5 cups washed, hulled mung dal (or 2 cups red lentils, if you don’t have mung dal)

6-8 cups water

2 cups washed, chopped greens (kale, spinach, chard, collards)

2-3 TBSP miso

Chopped cilantro, lime wedges & grated coconut for garnish


Sauté the onion, garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, ginger in the oil or ghee until the onion is translucent or, if omitting oil or ghee, dry fry the seeds until they pop and then add the onion, garlic and ginger and simmer them in the wine or water, on low heat until the onions are translucent and the wine or water has evaporated off. I used to be very suspect of not sautéing onions and garlic in oil. I would taste soups where the onion or garlic was just boiled in the soup and found the taste very much not to my liking. Like there was a raw onion taste that came through, even if the onion was cooked. But I have found that, as long as the onion and garlic are cooked completely in a little water and maple syrup if you are using that–to begin with, before adding the other ingredients, the taste is just fine. So the oil can be omitted for individuals with undue pitta or kapha increase. Add the fenugreek seeds and sauté (or dry sauté after the onions & garlic are finished cooking in the water) for maybe a bit under a minute, stirring constantly, lest the fenugreek seeds get bitter–as they are wont to do if they are sautéd for too long. Add the tomatoes, turmeric, coriander, and maple syrup and simmer 5 minutes on low heat. Add the dal and water and cook until beans are soft. Add the greens and cook until they are done. Turn off the heat. In a half cup cool water, dissolve the miso and then add and stir it into the dal. Once the miso has been added, it is best not to bring the dal to a boil or simmer, in order to preserve the beneficial aspects of the miso. Also, miso that has been aged at least 6 months has been shown to have stronger health-bestowing effects (protection against radiation injury, strokes and many kinds of cancers) than miso that has been aged less time, and there are indications that –unlike salt–miso does not aggravate hypertension.[i]

Garnish with the coconut, lime and cilantro, after checking with your guests about their cilantro preferences. Many people think cilantro tastes like soap.

This recipe is well tolerated by all doṣas. The greens, maple syrup, cilantro, and coconut balance the tomato that might otherwise aggravate Pitta.

[i] J Toxicol Pathol. 2013 Jun; 26(2): 91–103. Published online 2013 Jul 10. doi: 10.1293/tox.26.91


New: Women’s Health & Hormones online course taught by Dr. Welch, with an innovative approach to understanding women’s hormones and health conditions. Designed for everybody, regardless of medical background, from MDs to professionals of Ayurveda or TCM, to anyone interested in women’s health.