I have a really fantastic niece who is vegan, and she came to visit for a while last year, and we had all kinds of fun making delicious vegan food together. This lentil dal is one of my favorite vegan dishes. It is so delicious! 

Dal is an Indian food, and traditionally would be served with basmati rice and naan. Naan requires a special tandoor oven to make, so we will make pita instead, which is actually doable at home!

First, I’ll make the pita bread, since it takes a couple of hours with rising time. Begin by dissolving yeast in warm water.

Place a portion of the flour in the food processor, turn to “on” and pour the water through the feed tube.

Process 10 seconds, then turn it off and let it rest 10 minutes. Add some olive oil and salt.

Then add the remaining flour.

Process 30 seconds to knead.

Scrape the very sticky dough into a greased bowl, cover, and let rise  1 1/2 hours.

During the last half hour, heat your oven to 425 with a pizza stone on the bottom rack. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a baking sheet.

Turn out the dough onto a well floured counter.

Divide into 8 equal pieces.

Roll each piece into a ball.

Roll 2 of the balls as thin as you can into a rough circle. 

As quickly as you can, open the oven, pull out the rack with the pizza stone or baking sheet, and place the 2 rolled out pitas onto the hot surface.

Set a timer for 3 minutes. The dough will begin to puff.

Right around the 3 minute mark, the dough should be fully puffed. The one ob the left is fully puffed, the one on the right needs a bit more time.

If one hasn’t fully puffed by 4 minutes, go ahead and remove it anyway. Sometimes they don’t fully puff. Remove them quickly. They will deflate.

Roll out and cook the next two. Repeat until all 8 pitas are cooked. Store them stacked and wrapped in a clean kitchen towel. They will stay warm and ready to eat for a long time!

Get the full pita recipe here.

Now for the lentil dal. Here is what you’ll need:

This dal is made with red lentils, which become super creamy and soft when cooked, very similar to split peas. I buy my lentils from the bulk section of the store, and they are very cheap.
Chop the onion, and peel and dice the carrots. The easiest way is to cut your carrot at a sharp angle.

This makes planks. 

Stack a couple of planks and cut into matchsticks.

Then cut into dice.

Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, ginger, and a pinch of salt. 

Sauté until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the spices, and sauté 30 seconds.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Partially cover, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it gets too thick, add a bit of water as needed. Stir in the spinach.

Stir until all the spinach is wilted, then serve!

LENTIL DAL
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
2 peeled and finely diced carrots
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
2 cups water
2 teaspoons better than bouillon vegetable broth base
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach

Heat ghee or oil over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and cook until softened, 5 to 8 minutes. Add curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add lentils, coconut milk, water, and vegetable broth base, and bring to a simmer. Partially cover, and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the spinach until wilted. Taste, and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve with rice and/or pita bread.

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