Chana Dal with Cauliflower, Cashews and Coconut Milk comes together in 50 minutes and feeds a small crowd. This simple dal recipe is excellent for dinner or leftovers for lunch and it’s freezer friendly! vegan + gluten free
The highs and lows of life hit me harder than most this week. From the sheer joy and exhilaration of a hike in the Cascades to taxes to marking the first year of Claire’s passing.
Then there’s my zen zone. The kitchen, which is truly a meditation.
So long as things are going my way and Rob’s not hovering over me. It’s not always so zen ;) .
The hike this weekend was at Baker Lake in the Cascade Mountain Range. We slept in on Saturday and on a whim decided to go. We opted for an excursion instead of pulling weeds, as neither of us could muster the motivation. The day couldn’t have been more beautiful with clear, blue skies, a light breeze, and cool temperatures. We stopped on the way to pick up a picnic lunch and headed towards the mountains.
The hike was an easy walk with gradual inclines, passing through second-growth, some old-growth forest and burnt out cedar tree snags from the 1843 eruption of Mt. Baker. We stopped often to gaze, listen, and breathe in the fragrance of a beloved forest.
Along the trail we came across a raging river fed by glacial melt that had washed out part of the trail leading to a felled tree footbridge. I knew I had to cross it. I was hesitant. Fear of falling and smashing my head on rocks while being saturated in ice cold water was not my idea of how to spend the weekend.
Rob encouraged me. I resisted.
Finally, after some encouragement, self-talk and seeing a 60-something woman scramble herself and dog over the rocks and raging water, I, feeling like a wuss, went for it.
I made it with one wet foot and a big smile. Then I realized I had to eventually go back and cross again. Note to self: seek out loop trails.
It was a good day. And I didn’t think about taxes. Coming home to make this simple dal recipe was pure pleasure.
What is Chana dal?
- Chana dal is a variety of split chickpea that’s high in fiber, protein, and iron and is found in many Middle Eastern and Indian foods.
- Chana dal has a sweet earthy flavor and can be used in dal, curry, spreads, dips, soup, and casseroles.
They’re a pantry staple now, finding a place next to my favorite French lentils.
Although this recipe is not authentic to Indian cuisine (I asked my friend Rakhee), it has a fabulous assortment of spices, textures, and flavors. Rich in turmeric, cumin, cardamom, mustard seed, garlic, and ginger, the spices and onions saturate the cauliflower, chana dal, and coconut milk, turning this into a flavor-rich and nourishing meal.
How to Make This Simple Dal Recipe:
- Cook the dal and toast the cashews.
- Meanwhile, saute the onion, mustard seeds, ginger, garlic and spices. Add the carrots and cauliflower and a bit of water.
- Stir in the dal and coconut milk – take a deep inhale of deliciousness.
- Dinner is done in about 50 minutes! Top with chopped cashews, and cilantro and serve with lime wedges, rice and cilantro.
Chana Dal with Cauliflower and Coconut Milk
- 3/4 C Chana Dal soaked for at least one hour or overnight * (see note), 166g
- 1 Bayleaf
- 1 C Whole Raw Cashews 150g
- 1 1/2 Tbs Coconut Oil virgin, unrefined
- 2 C Yellow Onion diced (about 1 large onion), 200g
- 1 Tbs Grated Ginger use a microplane
- 1-2 Serrano Pepper minced ** (see note), use 2 for more heat
- 2 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 1 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Ground Cumin
- 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp Ground Cardamom
- 1 Tbs Grated Garlic use a microplane
- 2 lbs Cauliflower trimmed and cut into 1" pieces (about 6 cups), 936g
- 2 C Carrots quartered and diced, 260g
- 1, 400 mL Can Coconut Milk full fat
- 1-2 Tbs Tamari to taste
- Brown basmati or jasmine rice
- Chopped cashews
In a small sauce pot, add 2 1/4 C (500g) water, chana dal and bayleaf. Bring to a boil, turn down to medium low and simmer for 25 minutes. Drain, discard bayleaf and set aside. (this can be made up to two days in advance).
Toast cashews in a 350F (180C) oven for 15 minutes. Rough chop a hand-full for garnish. Set aside.
Meanwhile, while the dal and cashews are cooking, in a 5 quart Dutch oven, heat the coconut oil until shimmering. Add the onion, ginger, pepper, mustard seeds and sea salt. Cook on medium-low stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until onions are soft. Add the cumin, turmeric, cardamom, grated garlic and 1 Tbs water. Cook on low, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, cauliflower and 1-2 Tbs of water. Stir, cover and cook on low for 15 minutes, until the cauliflower and carrots are tender. Add the chana dal and coconut milk, stir and cook on low to warm through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the whole cashews. Stir in the Tamari to taste.
Serve with rice, chopped cashews, cilantro and lime. A squeeze of Sriracha is nice for those who love the spicy.
Store in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze for up to one month.
*Chickpeas can be subbed for Chana Dal in this recipe.
**Peppers can vary in their heat. Before adding the serrano to the pot, test it for heat and adjust to your taste.
Recipe inspired by Heart of the Plate.