Simple Dal with Coconut Rice

dsc_0232RECIPE #421, DAY #595


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Dal with Coconut Cream,” from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison*

TIMING: About 1 hour, including the rice

DIFFICULTY: Fairly easy, really simple

TOOLS: Rice steamer or cooker, heavy-bottomed large sauce pan, mortar and pestle or small food processor

COOK TYPE: Stovetop and rice steamer or cooker

HEALTH: We eat dal when we are running low on groceries and ideas. The bonus is that everyone really likes it and it is one of the healthiest meals we eat all week. Full of protein and fiber, if you throw in some sort of veggie (and use a whole grain for bonus points), you have a complete, week night meal for binge-watching until you fall asleep.

dsc_0233EXPERIENCE: There are some meals that we make so often, we have several recipes, all with variations. This is not our favorite dal, but it works. It has almost too much of a greasy coconut taste, and I love coconut. Still, we make it when the pantry is that low.

NOTES: I threw some frozen peas in this one, but you could also add other veggies, cooked first in butter (or ghee): onion, bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes (which will take some extra finessing), or spinach (which will take less time). If you have any of these, they can serve as a garnish: cilantro, lime wedges, diced tomato, or lemon wedges.


  1. Remove 4 tablespoons coconut cream from the top of a can of coconut milk. Set aside.
  2. In a rice cooker or steamer, cook 1 1/2 cups Basmati rice with the prescribed amount of liquid, but replacing some of the water with the coconut milk and cream left in the can. Measure them out in a measuring cup to be exact.
  3. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, combine 1 cup rinsed red lentils, 2 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, lower to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes, making sure there is always some liquid and stirring occasionally.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small food processor or pestle and mortar, combine 1 clove garlic, 1/2 jalapeno, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and 1 tablespoon fresh or pickled ginger.
  5. Check lentils for done-ness. They should have disintegrated to a porridge. Add the garlic puree and the coconut cream. Taste for seasonings and salt.
  6. Check the rice for done-ness and add salt to taste. Serve the dal over the rice.


Serve with a bad day and a mug of hot chai, as well as PJs and a rom com.

LEFTOVER IDEAS: Reheat dal on the stove, adding water or broth to smooth out. Check for salt and a squirt of lemon juice. Serve over fresh rice or with some heated and buttered naan. The leftover rice can be eaten for breakfast at room temperature, in a bowl with milk and sugar.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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