Asking for help isn’t something that comes to me naturally as I’ve always been a fiercely independent worker. My previous supervisors always commented on this trait almost immediately whether it was in an academic or business setting, and I often took a lot of pride in the fact that I could do things on my own. I never considered that this trait could potentially hold me back from growth. I guess I feared that asking for help would be a sign that I was incompetent, so I avoided it as much as possible. And I often thought that if I could just figure out how to manage my time better, I could do it all on my own. Case in point: In the 7 years that I’ve grown this blog, I’ve yet to hire a team member to help my husband and me.
However, this past year has helped me realize otherwise, at least in some areas of my life (I still have a long way to go). Working with Ashley on the photography for the next book has allowed me to focus more on my biggest passions – the writing and recipe creation – not to mention finish on time! Our working relationship has really opened my eyes to what I could achieve if I just asked for a bit more help. It has been a total light bulb moment. You know what else I realized? Collaboration is so darn fun. So much more fun than trying to do it on my own!
Golden Red Lentil Dal with Cilantro-Speckled Basmati
This easy, flavourful curry is a great one to whip up during the workweek, and leftovers only get better the next day. Light coconut milk makes this curry so luxuriously rich and decadent tasting, while still feeling quite light and energizing. It definitely won’t weigh you down, but I can promise it’ll warm and comfort you on a chilly day. While it’s lovely all on its own (enjoyed like a rich, thick stew), I love it even more spooned over top my cilantro-speckled basmati rice with toasted pepita seeds, sliced green onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. The amount of broth called for yields a very thick consistency; if you’d like it thinner and more “soup-like” feel free to thin it out with a bit more broth (if so, you might need to also increase the spices and seasonings as the extra broth will dilute the flavours). This comforting curry recipe is adapted from Super Fresh: Super Natural, Super Vibrant Vegan Recipes by Jennifer Houston and Ruth Tal which is a cookbook featuring the recipes from Fresh, one of my favourite vegan restaurants here in Toronto.
For the curry:
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) virgin coconut oil or grapeseed oil
- 1 1/2 cups diced onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 3 large or 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
- 1 1/2 cups peeled and finely diced carrots (about 2-3 large)*
- 2 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste**
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
- 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can light coconut milk
- 2 cups (500 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more if desired to thin the broth
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cane sugar (optional)
- 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach
For the rice:
- 1 cup dry basmati rice
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) virgin coconut oil or vegan butter
- 1 3/4 cups (430 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth, or as needed
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro, large stems removed and finely chopped***
- Fine sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Squeeze of fresh lime juice, to taste
- Green onions, thinly sliced
- Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Toasted pepita seeds (shelled pumpkin seeds)
- Squeeze of lime juice (optional)
- For the curry: Add the oil in a large pot and increase heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Sautée over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Stir in the ginger and carrots, and continue sautéing for another few minutes over medium heat.
- Add the curry powder, cumin, and turmeric. Stir well. Cook for a minute, until fragrant.
- Pick over and rinse the lentils in a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the entire can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, and salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered with the lid ajar, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the lentils and carrots are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom. Stir in a touch more broth if you'd like a slightly thinner consistency. After cooking, stir in all of the spinach until wilted. Stir in the black pepper, cayenne (if using), and sugar (if using). Taste and adjust salt, if desired.
- Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Add the rice into a medium pot along with the oil and broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook for 12 to 16 minutes, until the rice is soft and tender. Fluff with a fork and stir in the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. Keep the lid on until ready to serve.
- Add a generous scoop of rice on a plate or bowl and top with a couple ladlefuls of curry. Add your desired toppings and serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4 to 6 days. The curry can also be frozen for up to 4 weeks, possibly longer. For easy freezer storage, add the cooled curry into a freezer-safe bag, press out the air, and freeze on a flat surface. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or simply leave on the counter until mostly thawed.
- * The smaller you dice the carrots, the faster they cook! I opt for thinly sliced carrots here to hasten cook time.
- ** Be sure to use a good-quality curry powder (one you enjoy the taste of) as a poor-tasting one can throw the flavours off. I am quite fond of Simply Organic curry powder.
- *** Not a cilantro fan? Simply leave it out and prepare the rice without it. No biggie!
Nutrition Information(click to expand)
Photography credit: Ashley McLaughlin Photography
Last but not least, I want to wish all my fellow Canadians a very Happy Thanksgiving! We’ve been blessed with gorgeous, warm weather this weekend, and I hope you are too. Thank YOU for coming back to this blog time and time again, and for making this career so personally rewarding.
Hi Angela! I just wanted to Thank you again for your incredible work doing this blog! Literally you are my go-to-gal for new recipes! I made the salted pumpkin spice syrup last night and woke at 5 am (my 12 month old son actually woke me) and couldn’t get the thought out of my head to have my morning coffee with this stuff! Man. It’s so good. I’m pretty sure I won’t ever have my coffee without this! I adore eggnog…not sure if you had thought about an “eggnog” type syrup next ;) I’m making your lentil walnut balls today. Seriously, thank you for your hard work, dedication, and creative palate:)
Happy Thanksgiving Canadians!
Melissa from Portland Oregon (I wrote to you once before, my son was born Sept 23)
Thank you for your kind words! That’s so great to hear.
I’m so glad you love the syrup as much as I do. I just ran out and my latte wasn’t the same this morning! haha. I love the idea of an eggnog version. I was also thinking a gingerbread version would be nice too!
Thanks for reading!
I second the idea of the gingerbread version! I’m going to make the salted pumpkin syrup today!
Gingerbread option sounds awesome!! Happy late Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends all there….I’m just a hop skip over the border in Niagara Falls, but I love both sides! And I love all the for in Canada, so tasty! Another stellar recipe Angela, I confess I’ve never had the confidence to tackle curry on any level before. And congrats on handing the photography torch over ~ I too hate asking for help! For me, I think it’s a middle child trait, but I won’t even ask my mom to help, or babysit or anything, I just suck it up and do everything myself and that’s not great either. But yes, bosses do love this trait.
can you use any other herb i am allergic to cilantro?
I always substitute parsley for cilantro whenever I see it in a recipe; works great!
Thank you for this recipe! My 8 month old daughter loved it!
This looks amazing!! I’m doing a challenge this month where I’m not buying any restaurant or takeout food, and instead I’m cooking all my meals at home. I had been looking around for a nice Fall-themed recipe that I could freeze so that I don’t have to cook a new meal every evening when I get home from work, and it looks like this is going to be it! :)
Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving! :)
Aaaaaaand, just to follow up, I made this and it is delicious! I’m bringing it to work for lunch all week. :)
Agreed. Making it for the second time tonight, but trying it with black rice this time around. I’ve been craving it since I had it!
You read my mind! I love red lentils. They’re sooo nutritious and easy to prepare. I’m training for my first 50k so I have been eating a lot of lentils (and quinoa) but am getting tired of my usual Ethiopian style lentils. This will be perfect, plus it’s another type of recipe where I can jam as many vegetables as I want in. Love your recipes!
I have a friend, who like you doesn’t like *help* and she admitted she hated the thought she wasn’t good at something or that people would look badly on her if she admitted she couldn’t do something!
With regards to the recipe, I shall give it a go but I only cook for myself so sometimes it’s hard to adjust the ingredients correctly. If I make a big batch of something, I will just eat more than I should!!
Curry tends to freeze well, so that might be an option? Would hate for you to miss this one! haha
Thank you for being such an inspiration and sharing your passion for health eating! Can’t express how much I enjoy your blog and cookbook! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
So glad you are back, Angela! Asking for help is always tough but really pays off when you finally do it. I’m so happy you now have the time to get back to your passion. I love your recipes, stories, teas and stories you share about your daughter. Can’t wait for you new cookbook next year!
Yes!! I too have had that comment given to me-both as praise and a “area that needs work” (to which I almost always take offense to!). I Blame my midwestern farming family for this-the typical “hardworking, get your work done before play” midwestern attitude. But I too have been slowly realizing the SAME thing: asking for help isn’t a bad thing…and sometimes, tasks don’t have to be hard/stressful in order to feel fulfilling. It is a work-in-progress for sure! So glad you are finding balance-it is such a challenge!! Looking forward to reading more of your posts and recipes, and seeing Ashley’s photography!
I made a lentil Shepard pie, vegan stuffing and a mushroom gravy. For the veg it was Maple sriracha roasted Brussel sprouts. For dessert made your Pumpkin oatmeal squares. Also made your recipe for pumpkin spice syrup. It was a lot of cooking but loved everything I made.
I also love fresh. Love the quinoa onion rings and the cornbread and hummus.
Happy Thanksgiving!! Thank you for continuing to share delish & healthy recipes!
It’s good to have you back, Angela! I have missed your wonderful recipes! I think it’s very admirable you’ve asked for help. I have an issue with asking for help too. I always want to do things on my own. Asking for help just seems so hard. However, I am working on it and your words are very inspiring. If you can ask for help then so can I.
I can’t wait to try out the dal. I love Indian food so I am sure this recipe is a winner in my kitchen :)
Hi Angela I just want to thank you for all of your hard work. I love your recipes and your blog. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve sent your website or lent your cookbook. I’ve been following you for years but never thanked you for all the yummy recipes and veggies my family eats on the reg because of you so THANK YOU!!!
Thank you Becca, that means the world to me to hear! Thank you for spreading the love too. :)
Happy Thanksgiving Angela !
I’m so glad you’re back. This looks so amazing I’ll do it this week for sure.
I think that in the last year and a half, not two days straight has gone by without one of your recipes in my house (tiny appartment). Thank you so much for your great work and wonderful ideas. You make cooking fun, comforting, simple, healthy and compassionate all at the same time ! I can’t wait for your next book, next post, next recipe, next anything. Sometimes I feel like you’re my friend even if we don’t know each other. I’ll comment back in a few days to tell you how much I love this dal (I’m sure it will be a lot) !
P.S I’m sorry if I made some grammatical error I’m from Montreal, little french canadian(quebecoise) that I am.
You are too kind Valérie! Thank you for trying so many recipes. I think you and I would hit it off just fine! hah.
Great to see this recipe – I was thinking of making something Indian spiced this week. Do you have any alternate instructions for using brown rice instead of white Basmati?
I understand your need to get someone else to do photography – work, writing a book, baby – it must be crazy. But I much prefer your photos. The photos above lack the warmth of your work, with the antiseptic white background. It would have looked much better with a white bowl on a rustic wood background or patterned cloth. I also miss some of the super close up and cut-off shots you do. Hopefully your collaborator will start to get the feel of your work, and improve with time.
Ashley takes gorgeous photos, there’s no doubt about that. They are so clean and so polished, but I agree with you about the preferring Angela’s photography. There’s a certain warmth and welcoming aspect to it–whether it’s the from a wooden cutting board or parchment paper underneath the food or interesting utensils/dishes used or even photos of the dish in various steps as it’s being prepared. I do really enjoy her close ups as you said.
I also understand being overwhelmed and stretched too thin; I like to do everything myself too, and I mean EVERYTHING. But that’s more of my OCD and my quest for everything to be perfect, and who can get everything the way I want it other than me, right? Ha ha. I think taking some of the load off your plate will be a good thing. I would love to see more recipes so I can’t wait for your upcoming blog posts! I’d be lying if I said I don’t check your blog regularly before I even check my email. :P
Hi Kate and Liz,
Thank you for your thoughts! I really appreciate your passion for my photography. I also totally understand that you’ve come to expect a certain style of photography on this blog.
Early on in the second book process, I decided on a clean look for the book photography, so the entire book would have a cohesive feel, not to mention, I wanted it to look new and fresh! I also wanted to move away from the rustic photography for the book because I was starting to tire of the rustic look and felt it has been overdone in recent years. Change can be great, and I am absolutely thrilled with how the book came together! She totally nailed it. So with this in mind, I thought extending a similar style to the blog would be a nice change and both of us are still working on nailing the style for the blog. I agree that we can bring in some more warmth to the photography and I know Ash is fully on board too. The good news is that she is capable of a wide range of styles, and she’s extremely talented. My readers have been telling me “we need more recipes” for a while now, so this is my solution to be able to do that. It’s not necessarily forever, but we’re going to try it out.
I also haven’t ruled out shooting a recipe here and there if I have a chance, as I don’t plan on leaving it behind entirely. Anyway, this is just a note to say that we hear you and that this is a process for both of us. :) Thanks for weighing in and for your kind words about my blog.
Ashley takes amazing pics. And, your recipes are divine. Perfect match. :)
Happy Thanksgiving Ange!!! I hope you guys had a fantastic one, and I so, so admire you for making the decision to bring on some help. As a type-A myself, I can totally identify with the way you described feeling like it’s an issue of better time management as opposed to something that could be fixed with collaboration. I’m constantly trying to manage my time better, streamline workflows and get more done in less time at the same (or better) quality. It can be rewarding when it happens, but at the same time, can be very exhausting too! I love that you and Ashley are collaborating now, and can’t wait to see the delicious results!
As for this recipe, I think we’re on the same wavelength when it comes to loving lentils! I recently made a lentil-based curry (to be posted on the blog this week!) and am just loving the texture they create. This dal sounds fantastic and because I always seem to have more lentils than I know what to do with, I’ll be making it next!
This recipe looks so good! Do you think it would work with green lentils instead? I’m not opposed to buying red ones, I just have a ton of green ones right now! I just bought some coconut milk, guess I know what I’m using it for!
This dish sounds absolutely perfect, I recently tried lentils for the first time and now I am completely obsessed! This recipe sounds perfect to try for dinner this week! :)
Angela! So good to have you back on the blog on a regular basis. I know writing the 2nd cookbook must have been crazy hectic, but the lack of meal postings recently has been noticed. I’ve been so unmotivated without you. Excited to try this new recipe though! Thanks for coming back to us!!!
Thank you, thank you for this recipe. I love a simple, nourishing, and delicious weeknight meal and most of these ingredients are pantry staples. Bonus! I will be trying it very soon. I also want to tell you how much I am enjoying the pumpkin lattes. Just finished one now, in fact. I didn’t have coconut sugar, so I subbed with date sugar. It resulted in more of a paste than a syrup, but I don’t mind. The taste is amazing.
On another note, it’s wonderful that you sought help. I tend to do things myself, too, mainly because it’s uncomfortable for me to feel like I’m putting people out. And it makes me feel vulnerable. Which is really sad when you think about it. We should celebrate the fact that we need each other. I always feel more open when I accept help.
So glad your back!!!!! Letting others work along side of you isn’t a sign of weakness it is “synergy” in action! With that comes a renewed energy and like you said an opportunity to focus more on what you want. So happy to be cooking more of your amazing recipes. Happy Thanksgiving!
It’s so nice to have you back! As always, your recipes are awesome and we’re enjoying them immensely. Looking forward to all the new posts, and of course, the new cookbook. Thanks for all the hours you put in to make just the right blends of flavors and textures for all of us out here doing our best to eat healthy!
I am so happy to hear you will be posting regularly again! Also greatly looking forward to your next book, I have absolutely loved everything I’ve tried out of your first book (and I’ve tried a LOT of the recipes!)
Than you so so much for all the work you do on your wonderful website! I am expecting baby number six and am reacting horribly to dairy products and am severely allergic to wheat. I find so many wonderful recipes on your blog! God bless you!
The past two recipes have knocked it out of the park. I’m looking forward to trying this, I think I have all the ingredients in the pantry too. Have a happy thanksgiving!
I’m making this now. I’ve already tasted it, and it’s delicious. I added one small sweet potato in with the carrots, and I’ll be heading to my garden to pick some chard in place of the spinach. I’m cooking quinoa instead of basmati, since that’s what I have. I have been looking for a recipe like this. Thank you, Angela!
I can’t wait to make this, it looks delicious!! As a long time reader of both you and Ashley’s blog I noticed the switch in photography before it was mentioned. :) Good luck with the collaboration, it’s off to a great start!
Delicious! Just made this for dinner. Marketed it to my 2 year old as “rice and dip” and he had two servings!
“marketed”…haha, love that! I’m picking up tips here.
Delicious! I made this tonight for dinner. I added a little hot sauce on top. Would also be yummy with sweet potato instead of carrots. Thanks!
Good call on the hot sauce – I’m loving sriracha right now and that would be great! I also think sweet potato, or butternut squash would work in this too. Can’t wait to try it.
Thank you for your delicious recipes. Our family is transitioning to more plant based eating and your blog and recipe book have made it easier. All the recipes we have tried have turned out really well. I have been sharing this with my friends and family. Thanks for this post today. It inspires us to keep eating well after this big food weekend.
Thank you Jane, I’m so thrilled to hear that!
Happy Thanksgiving! The colour in this is divine! I really like lentils and have always wanted to try Dal.
xoxoBella | http://xoxobella.com
Thank you for finding a way to expand your personal “brand”.. Cookbooks, tea shoppe….while still finding the time to do what many of your readers love… Your blog.
I admire your work, adore your recipes and especially appreciate how well you’ve juggled becoming a mother with being a successful business woman.
I can’t wait for your next post!
Have you ever tried a pressure cooker? So worth it! You can make this dish in 6 minutes! I got myself an instant pot and love it, you can also make your own yoghurt! I would love to get good yoghurt recipes… Nice challenge for you ;)
How did you do this in an instant pot? Do you just put it all in there together and cook it? I just got an Instant pot and I’m wanting to use it.
The recipe sounds yummy and I am looking forward to trying it and it’s future companions. I am glad that working with Ashley will make it possible for us to enjoy more of your creations.
I will definitely be making this in the not too distant future, it looks and sounds delicious. So glad that you will be making more of an appearance… I have missed your blog posts and recipes a lot…I absolutely adore your writing style and honesty. You’re an inspiration and one of a small handful of people that inspired me to have a complete change of career and start studying naturopathic nutrition so thank you. xx
amazing!! love this :)
Love this post and your comments on collaboration and how those relationships can help us grow as individuals. I’ve always appreciated your insights as well as your awesome recipes. Cheers to healthy eating!
Thanks Alison :)
What timing! Just this morning I was thinking, what can. Do with the red lentils and coconut milk in my cupboard. Now I have the answer. Looking forward to making this. Glad you are back sharing recipes.
Don’t you love a good pantry meal?! I know I do. Hope you enjoy it!
And it was delicious!
Glad you’re back & love your recipes. I have everything to make this except for red lentils. I do have brown & green lentils, which would you recommend in place of the red lentils?
I’m going to miss your photography on the blog, but at the end of the day, if it allows you to focus your time and energy where you’d prefer, I think that’s a great decision. We can’t do everything ourselves!
Hi Angela and welcome back! Glad to hear all went well with your book…excited! I’ve been eagerly waiting a new savory recipe from you, and this one has my name written all over it. I just wanted to point out a minor typo in the recipe: I think you want to bringt the lentils, etc. to a quick boil (vs. simmer) before reducing heat. ‘Til soon…
Ha…talk about typos – “bring!”
This recipe comes at a perfect time as the weather is cooling and I am craving warm comfort foods! Cant wait to make it.
SO glad to hear you will be blogging more and sharing more recipes…I pretty much live off your recipes ;) I can relate to the challenge of asking for help completely. Sounds like you are blessed to find a great compliment to your work with Ashley’s drool worthy photos.
I was wondering what to make for dinner tonight when your email arrived. And done! I know what we are eating now. This looks amazing. And my kids LOVE basmati rice. Smells amazing when it’s cooking. Thank you!
I hope you enjoy it Stacy. And I couldn’t agree more about the smell of basmati rice!! so amazing.
My friend Emily turned me on to your blog and book over a year ago but it wasn’t until today that I made my first dish by you. The golden red lentil dal! This smells divine. I love anything with coconut. I’ve only sampled it now; I’m saving it for lunch. Yay! I have a good feeling that this is something I’ll be making over and over again.
Nova, I’m so happy you tried it! Thank you for the lovely comment :)
I was already planning on making a lentil soup last night, but when I saw this and realized I had all the ingredients, it seemed like fate to just make it into a full meal. I LOVE the flavors of coconut + curry. This was as easy as it gets and definitely a keeper.
ps. congrats on the cookbook and the new photography news. I love Ashley’s work!
Wow this looks so fragrant and delicious!
“You can do anything but not everything.”
That is a quote I tell myself all the time.
I think I’m much like you…. I struggle with letting go so much too but I’m inspired by you to make a few changes here in my life with a blog, a book and a baby too.
You made a great decision to get Ashley on board.
The recipe looks stunning and I can’t wait to try this recipe! :)
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving weekend!!
I totally am the same way when it comes to asking for help. It always feels so difficult, but there is such relief when you realize you don’t have to do everything on your own.
So excited for your next cookbook, I literally just read your first one in my free time because I think the whole thing is so lovely. (And obviously I make your recipes on a regular basis).
Thanks so much for the work you do,and your honesty while you do it.
So glad you are back! I felt like something in my life was missing without this blog, haha. I’m sure the book will be worth it though!
You have amazing recepies here. thank you.
And here small advertisement from us. We are asking for help.
Go vegan! ♥
I made this tonight and it was a huge hit for the whole family. My almost 2 year old could not get enough of it…kept repeating “tasty…more!’. Thank you – it’s a keeper!
aw that’s so cute! So happy it was a hit :)