I know, I know, just what you’re craving in the middle of summer…a dish that brings the heat! Did I nail it on the head or what? Well, maybe you can entertain this as an idea for a rainy, cool-ish summer evening. We enjoyed it on a night like that just recently! We’ve had a lot of rain and clouds around these parts.
I’ve been trying to come up with the fastest of fast dinner recipes, since cooking with two kids underfoot is getting more and more challenging. If it takes me more than 10 minutes of prep during the witching hour, it’s usually not happening. (I don’t know, maybe I should try batch cooking and freezing meals on the weekends, but I haven’t yet come up with a plan for that.) Admittedly, I’ve also been feeling a bit defeated in the cooking department because Adriana is going through an “I’m not hungry” phase (after going through a really good eating phase in the spring that, in retrospect, could’ve been a growth spurt!). Most of the things we offer her get a few nibbles taken out of them. Or she just exclaims, “POPSICLE, PLEASE!” *facepalm* So, my mood lately has been basically PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME COOK ANOTHER REJECTED MEAL. The silver lining is that Arlo will eat anything that isn’t nailed down (for now!), as will Eric (lol), so my cooking confidence isn’t totally shattered. I’m like, “SEE, NORMAL PEOPLE LOVE MY FOOD!” (I may be losing it.)
One day I just started throwing things into a pot and didn’t actually expect this recipe to be a winner, but it turned out to be really tasty, especially after a couple more trials. I love that it’s extremely fast to prep. My goal was 10 minutes prep, and I usually clock in at around 7 or 8 minutes (when I have my cooking game face on!). I also wanted the dish to rely on pantry ingredients, such as dried spices rather than fresh aromatics. Don’t get me wrong, fresh garlic, onion, ginger, chillis, etc. are typically my first choice, but they aren’t always practical for those rushed nights. Another benefit of this recipe is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand, so it can work for all the seasons. I, Eric, and Arlo are really enjoying it…and I’ve even convinced Adriana to eat a bit (it was a sweet potato version, and I ended up mashing her sweet potatoes into the dal and stirring in the rice).
8-Minute Pantry Dal
4 (with accompaniments)
This satisfying pantry dal is lightning fast and will only set you back around 8 minutes of prep time. While not an authentic dal, I created this version out of a desperate need to come up with more speedy pantry dinner options. You can change it up so many ways by simply varying the veggies you use, and in my tips I've provided an alternative spice option, too—I still can't decide which one I like better! Before you begin, I recommend setting out all the spices on the counter so they’re ready to go when you’re cooking. Also, if you have some on hand, this dish is great with baby spinach stirred in during the last couple minutes of cooking. In the photographed dish, I used 2 cups each of chopped zucchini and broccoli florets, but of course, feel free to use any veggies you prefer.
For the dal:
- 1 heaping tablespoon (20 mL) virgin coconut oil or olive oil
- 4 cups peeled (if necessary) and diced veggies*
- 1/2 cup (100 g) uncooked red lentils
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) water, plus more if needed
- 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can light coconut milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) minced onion**
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) good curry powder, or to taste***
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Cooked basmati rice or grain of choice
- Fresh chopped cilantro leaves
- Fresh lime juice
- In a large pot, melt the coconut oil over low-medium heat.
- Peel (if necessary) and dice the veggies into 1/2-inch pieces. Add them into the pot and stir until combined. Increase heat to medium.
- Add in the rest of the ingredients (lentils, water, diced tomatoes [with juices], coconut milk, all the spices, salt, and pepper). Stir until combined.
- Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 18 to 30 minutes, until the veggies and lentils are tender; the cook time will depend on the types of veggies you use, and their size. Stir the dal frequently while cooking, and reduce the heat if necessary to prevent it from sticking to the pot. (If you’re using potatoes, I suggest covering the pot while cooking since they don’t contain as much water to “cook off”. You may need to add more water to thin the mixture.)
- If desired, serve over rice, and garnish with cilantro and lime (it’s still great without these additions, though!).
* You can use any veggies you like here! Whatever is lurking in your kitchen, feel free to try it out. A few ideas for combos include the following: carrot and zucchini, potato and peas, sweet potato and red pepper, broccoli and zucchini, cauliflower and/or broccoli.
** Minced (or flaked) onion is less concentrated than onion powder. Onion powder will work as a substitute if that's what you have on hand, but I would suggest starting with a small amount and adding it to taste in ¼-teaspoon increments to avoid it overpowering the dish.
*** I use Simply Organic brand of curry powder. If you don’t have a favourite curry powder blend on hand, you can substitute the following: 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or more to taste), and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional). Don’t forget to use the 1 1/2 teaspoons of both garlic powder and minced onion, as well.
It feels like all I have time for these days are 10 minutes or less meals! This will definitely spruce up our weekday menu and luckily most of it I already have. Yum!
Ugh, I know the struggle of a sudden picky eater and how it makes you defeated and uninterested in cooking! My son started this same phase around 2.5 years old. He turns 4 in the end of October, and it’s only gotten slightly better. I’ve been making smoothies with fruit and veggies and freezing them into popsicles, so when he claims he’s still hungry 2 seconds after dinner and only wants a popsicle, I at least know he’s getting some nutrition.
Hang in there! I’ve learned to just cook for myself again, and figure my son will learn to eat what’s being offered. He seems to be getting better, but we still have nights where he claims he doesn’t want or like anything. This recipe looks delicious and super simple, a win-win! We’ve been getting rainy, cool evenings here too, so I will put this aside for the next one!
Hey Stephanie, That’s a GENIUS tip about freezing smoothies into popsicles!!! I’m doing this today! Adriana was really into smoothies, then lately not as much, so I think this is a wonderful idea to try. It sounds like our kiddos went through this phase around the same age (she’ll be 3 at the end of Sept.). I hope you enjoy the recipe if you try it out!
Yes! Again the same, my son also started claiming he doesn’t like smoothies suddenly around 3 years old… Another life saver for us has been these disposable ice pop molds. They have a ziploc closing on the top – I included a link below. I got them to make homemade go-gurt style yogurt, but he also claimed he didn’t like those. So, I blended yogurt with fruit and then froze them, with slightly better results! I’ve also used them for when he is sick, and fill them with vitamin water or similar (perfect for sore throat and fever when they don’t want to eat).
Disclaimer: I still haven’t tried this recipe, but I’ve never met one of your recipes that I don’t like, so I’m sure I’ll love it! I have it on the plan for a quick weeknight dinner this week :)
this looks great, can’t wait to try it!! do you think this could be made in an instantpot?
Hey Annie, Thanks! I haven’t tried out the instantpot, but I can’t see why not! I’m just unsure about timing and such. Please let us know if you try anything out. :)
I was thinking the exact same thing!
I found a recipe for split lentils and it calls for 8 minutes, high pressure, natural release. I was thinking I’d start there!
And yes, Angela. Thanks so much for these quick, easy, and pantry-friendly recipes! REALLY appreciated!
Hi Angela – Hit “submit” too soon for my above comment. Would prefer to just go by the name everyone calls me: “Kat”
Hey Kat, Thanks for your lovely comment! And no worries on the name–just changed it for you. :)
I am all for the quick dinners these days because I usually have a toddler hanging on to my legs crying while I’m trying to make it….and then he doesn’t want to eat it haha. I’m looking for more plant-based recipes too so this is perfect!
Hey! This looks delicious. Would canned lentils work instead of the dry and forget adding water??
Hey Nicole, I think you could probably make canned lentils work with some experimentation! I would definitely cut out the water, like you suggest, and you may also have to reduce the juices from the canned diced tomatoes too. Maybe don’t add all the tomato juices from the can right away, and add the rest only if you need to thicken it up. If you try anything out please let us know how it goes. :)
This is just what I was hoping to find here. I don’t have to make it to know I will love it and it is healthy! I don’t have babies but my life is really busy lately and there just isn’t time sometimes to cook healthy stuff. Very grateful.
When you get a chance to give the recipe a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do, Janine!
This looks absolutely delicious! Have you tried Penzey’s spices? It’s something I think you’d have to order, unless you were in Scottsdale, but so worth it. Their Curry Now is AMAZING. All their spices are delicious – nothing like store spices. If you haven’t been to one of their shops, add it to your to-do list the next time you’re in Arizona. I think you’ll really enjoy it.
Hey Camille, I have been to one in Scottsdale and it was wonderful!! I don’t believe I have tried their Curry Now spice, but I’ll have to double check my loot to make sure I didn’t forget about anything.
Yes! So many grey days lately, such a cool summer. I love daal, I’ll have to give this a try!
Hope you love the recipe, Lauren! :)
I am also in the stage of needing really quick dinners and this looks perfect! My little guy (9 months) will eat anything right now and I’m trying to appreciate it while it lasts because I know the toddler years can be so much trickier with that. Thanks for the recipe!
Well Angela, even though its humid and a heatwave here in MA, this is on the menu this weekend! I have a 7 month old son who does not like to be without me for a second. I put him down to try to cook, and he now does this fake cough, so i turn around and look at him and hes smiling! So keep these easy fast recopes coming please! ( you know, in your free time?)
Hey Carolyn, Oh that fake cough….I’m giggling. SO cute. How are they so smart this young?! I’m always amazed. Sounds like he has you figured out already. ;) Arlo likes to “blow bubbles” (or as Adriana likes to say, ARLO SPITTIN!” to get my attention.
Looks delicious! I’m definitely trying asap! My girls are roughly the same age as your little ones, so I’m definitely in the same boat right now… ?
Question: (Maybe I missed this) If I do the carrot combo, how would you recommend chopping those? Small dice? Thanks!
Hi Stephanie, I’d recommend chopping those at a 1/2-inch dice or so, so the recipes cooks as quickly as possible. If you try it out, I hope you and your family enjoy it!
Oh – love the tip to set out all the spices first – I waste so much time going back to the cupboard when I don’t do that! And still forget to do it! Thanks heaps!
Thank you so much for this quick and delicious recipe! I received this recipe in my inbox at the perfect time as I had zucchini and broccoli that I needed to use. I made it this afternoon and will be making it again! Thanks again Angela! :-)
Just tried it with corn (one leftover ear – kernels sliced off), zucchini, broccoli, and 2 cups of fresh spinach. Added the spinach in the last five minutes of cooking to just wilt it.
Ran out of curry powder so added some curry paste.
Love that this is so simple and easy to prepare.
So glad you liked it with the added spinach, Donna! We love how quick and easy this recipe is, too. :)
Holy cow! This recipe is the BOMB DOT COM! I cannot believe how easy and delicious it is. I will be sad when my leftovers are gone and will be looking forward, happily, to making it again SOON! YUM!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for the love, Laura!
Welcome back! Mushed/mixed daal and rice is one of the first foods kids in India ever eat, so you and Adriana are on to something there. Here’s hoping the latest phase wraps up soon.
I’ll be making this soon with our latest CSA goodies! Quick meals are so helpful at busy times and on nights when it’s easy to snack too much out of hunger and impatience.
Thanks, Kate! I hope you enjoy the recipe when you get a chance to make it. Happy cooking!
This was delicious, one of the best, and easiest!, dal recipes I ever tried. I foresee many versions of this dish in my immediate future.
I’m glad you enjoyed it, Marielle. This dish is just so versatile…have fun experimenting!
Oh yum! I always am in the mood for Dal!! This recipe really hits the spot!!! Can’t wait to make it myself!
I hope you enjoy it when you get a chance to give it a try, Liv!
This might not seem like a great dish for summer – but it totally is!!! I just made it using a bunch of random CSA leftovers – corn, zucchini and spinach. Perfect and yummy!! I steamed some Trader Joe’s frozen rice and used squeeze lime juice for the ultimate lazy girls meal!
Happy to hear you enjoyed it, Vanessa!
I just purchased your app and was wondering if there is some way to get nutritional information on your recipes? It’s just a nice thing to know. I’ve tried a couple of your recipes and so far, I’m really happy! Very tasty ?
Hey Daniella, Thanks so much for your support! I hope you’re enjoying the app so far. For most of my recipes I don’t calculate and share the nutritional information. But, if you go to a free online tool like caloriecount.com or nutritiondata.com (or an app like MyFitnessPal) and plug in the info for the recipe you want to know more about, you should be able to get a nutritional breakdown fairly quickly. Hope this helps!
Made this tonight and it was deelish and easy- did broccoli, zucchini and yellow pepper over brown rice that I got in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s.
I’m glad the recipe was a hit, Terri!
This was so yummy and no joke 8 minutes!! I will definitely keep this on rotation. First attempt was zucchini and frozen green peas. And I had some basmati rice I had frozen recently when I made a huge batch. My super picky toddler actually took four bites (In bargain for her bowl of cereal – sob). I think they all go through it. My friends pediatrician calls them “pastatarians” during this phase! Made me laugh out loud. But with a toddler and six week old I would love to see more “pantry” recipes like this! I have your app too but came over here to say that! Thanks for all your great recipes Angela!
Pasatarians…omg, that is TOO good!!! I can’t wait to tell Eric about that one. It’s so true. Or as we like to say “she loves any option that’s not the one offered” so sometimes we offer her the foods we don’t want her to eat, hoping she’ll select the one that’s not offered. Oh man, I’m starting to sound crazy, but somehow I think you might relate. ;)
Oh my goodness, I just made this and it is amazing! I added a tiny dash of cinnamon and served it over basmati rice. Thanks for a great recipe!
A dash of cinnamon–what a fun twist!
I made this but substituted the coconut milk with soy/coconut milk but it messes it up , it become like soup hahaha, how can I fix that ?
Hi Irma, Canned coconut milk–even the light kind this recipe calls for–tends to be thicker than a soy/coconut milk blend you’d find in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. That’s likely why you found the consistency of your dal too thin and soup-like, unfortunately. Your best bet next time would be to use canned light coconut milk. Another thing you could try is cooking the dal longer so some of the water cooks off and it thickens up. Hope that helps!
Do you think I could leave out the coconut. Allergic to nuts and most seeds it seems?
Hey Beth, I’m not sure, to be honest! The coconut gives it a lightly sweet, creaminess that helps offset the acidic bite from the tomatoes. If you are omitting the coconut milk it would take some experimentation probably. I’m sure you could try using veggie broth (maybe reduce to 1 cup though), but you might want to try adding back some fat into the recipe as well, in another form (maybe a bit more oil?). Another reader asked if unsweetened/unflavoured coconut yogurt would work, so maybe you could try an unsweetened/unflavoured soy-based yogurt? Just throwing ideas out there! If you try anything please let us know how it goes!
Just curious if I can use unflavoured/unsweetened coconut yogurt, only because it’s what I have on hand? Maybe thinned a little? Or would it be too much tang?
Hey Sarah, Oh, that’s an interesting idea for sure! I’m really not sure how it would turn out to be honest. My imaginary taste buds are coming up blank today, hah. I would probably thin it like you suggest, but only a tiny bit. If you try anything out please let us know how it goes. :)
WOW this looks absolutely mouth watering ! What a tasty twist on Pantry DAL!
Excited to try this! The day you posted this, I was looking through OSG Everyday and thought to myself the green-orange creamsicle smoothie would make an awesome popsicle–so we made it (without the ice) and they were delicious. My 4 year old LOVES popsicles too, so get that spinach in there and I feel pretty good about it! Thanks so much for all your recipes!!
Hey Jen, Oh, that’s so funny because I was JUST thinking about this exact recipe, and made a mental note that I should make it into popsicles! I’m so happy you enjoyed it! Adriana is now obsessed with the “smoothie” popsicles I’m making her (which also include greens…muhauhauh) and she thinks they are a “treat” which makes her want them even more. Anyway, I’m sure she will hate them in a few days so I better pack as many into her as I can, lol.
This looks so yum!! I love how healthy it is and how easy and quick it is to make! I love healthy recipes and this one is definitely one that I have to try. Thank you so much for sharing it!! Love your blog!
If you give it a try, I hope you love it as much as we do!
I made this at the start of the week to eat at work for lunch, and WOW, what an excellent recipe! It was a great way to use up all of the extra carrots, peas, and broccoli in my pantry, as well. I doubled the recipe, added a touch of cinnamon and cayenne pepper for extra sweetness and heat, and have been serving it over quinoa or white rice, depending on how I am feeling that day. Delicious, wholesome, and so easy! Thanks Angela :)
I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the dal, Lea! That extra bit of of seasoning sounds like a great addition, too. Yum!
This looks so good and so fast! I think I’m going to try doing it in the Instant Pot…I’m thinking it’ll only take about 5 mins of cooking time!
Enjoy, Alison! I’d love to hear how it goes in the Instant Pot, so if you get the chance, please report back! :)
I tried this in my Instant Pot tonight.
I changed it up a bit after reading about conversions to pressure cooking – As vegetables can go to mush easily under pressure, I only used very hearty vegetables – carrots, broccoli stems, re-hydrated mushrooms and some frozen beet greens that were looking pretty sad (not that they are hearty, but I just wanted to get them used up). Would have added potatoes and cauliflower if I had them. I also omitted the tomatoes as I read that if adding an acid one should increase the cooking time by up to 4x. Had planned to add a fresh tomato after cooking but forgot.
Had a sad onion so chopped that up and threw it in.
Cooked everything on high pressure for 8 mins then did a natural release.
Added some snow peas, mixed greens and minced fresh ginger after cooking to brighten it up a bit. I like most of my vegetables al dente, so the very light cooking they got by adding them in the end was perfect for me and gave everything some texture variance.
Lol – sorry to have messed with your recipe so much, Angela, but thanks for the inspiration!
Lol, no apologies necessary, Kat! I love to hear how my recipes have been adapted. It’s so inspiring to hear how others get creative in the kitchen!
Made this for supper last night. Easy and delicious!! Will definitely make again. Thanks!!
So glad you enjoyed it, Tammy!
I love fast, easy and healthy dishes, Angela! Which gains would you recommend for serving?
We’re really loving them these days too, Agness! I often serve this dish with cooked basmati rice, but you could really go with any grain you like: wild or brown rice (although they require a lot more cooking time unless you have a rice cooker or instant pot), quinoa, millet, sorghum, wheatberries…the list goes on :)
This is a great, simple recipe for using up random summer veggies – I often have a few lingering in the bin.
Also, have you considered simplifying your weekly cooking? Three nights a week I cook the same thing (pasta on Monday and soup and grilled cheese on Tuesday, and one night a week is cold sandwiches with cut up fruit). As a FT outside the home working mom of 3 little ones – who were once 3 under 3 – I found this saved my sanity for a year period.
Okay, I’m in a similar situation as you AGS with the 3 little kids including a newborn, and I do the same meal deal thing by doing repeats but I was not working full time!! I can’t imagine. But I like this recipe for using up the zucchini in my garden too, lots of veggies starting to come!
That’s such a great idea! I definitely should try this. :)
My weeks often end with me staring at the cauliflower I forgot the put in another dish and the zucchini left over from a recipe I meant to make but didn’t. I’m adding this to my “whoops I need a kitchen sink recipe” list. :)
Looks super delicious and easy, thanks for sharing!!
Ok, this looks downright delicious! I have been on a HUGE Thai food experimentation phase and you can see evidence of it with recipes at www.behindtheplates.com but, I think Indian flavors need to be my next route….starting with this!!!
Hope you love it, Missy!!
More recipes like this please!
Could you just use frozen veg? Then you would be done in like four minutes!
I can’t see why not! If you have a frozen veggie mix that you love, I say go for it. :) You may benefit from adding them a bit later in the cooking process, too.
Yumm, this needs to go on my food bucket list for sure! Also love your cooking books by the way :-)
Looks so delicious. Yummy, healthy & easy :) I love the combination of dal and veggies. Thanks for sharing!
Lady, we all go through that with our kids! They go through those phases just to break us down (I swear). At my best, I’m able to make a meal that can be served in pieces to my kids with at least two things I know they’ll eat, but that is still satisfying to my husband and me when it’s all put together. At my worst, I’m preparing four different meals because each child wants something different, my husband gets the main dish, and I prep a version of it that doesn’t include any grain. They do grow out of it, though! My six-year-old is starting to like real food, and it’s delightful. She just fell in love with a soup I made that’s super easy and makes enough to feed us all for a few days. Did you catch that? EASY! Makes a lot! FANTASTIC, I’LL MAKE IT EVERY WEEK, CHILD!
Hang in there, mama. You are so totally not alone.
Can’t wait to make this! I LOVE your cookbooks and have been a huge fan for the last 3 years. Hang in there with the picky eaters – it is the long game that counts. My boys started to enjoy “our food” around age 4, and are now 8 and 10 and eat everything we eat – just keep offering the food that you make for yourselves, and you’ll be surprised – one day they’ll say they hate mushrooms and the next day they will love them.
Question – would you be interested in developing recipes for the slow cooker? With school-age kids the slow cooker is SO helpful because during that late afternoon time/early evening time, it gets SO busy. I never used my slow cooker much until my kids went to school and now I realize how helpful it is! I’d love to see some new recipes, or even older OSG ones adapted for the slow cooker!
Agree with Jenny. I’d love some slow cooker recipe in the future please! :)
Thanks for this new recipe, looks so good!
Hey Jenny, Thanks for the encouragement!! I’m sure if we keep at it, one day it’ll all click. ;) Thanks for the slow cooker suggestion too. I will have to get brainstorming this fall!
I love the idea of developing vegan slow-cooked recipes! I’m living in a house with a lot of meat roasting pans, which are useless for me as a life-long vegan. That said, there is a slow cooker in the back of the cupboard. Last autumn I made a lot of apple butter in the slow cooker, however, found I didn’t end of using it as a spread because I always put nut of seed butters on bread for my son, but I recommend making slow cooker apple butter if you do use jam. Thus, this autumn I’m not making any slow cooker apple butter, just lots (and I mean lots!) of apple sauce from two abundance trees.
One use for the slow cooker, that I adore is steel cut oat porridge.
That said, if you come up with any savoury slow cooker recipes, I’d be delighted to hear!
it was very good!! tanks!
Very informative and looks delicious.I love the combination of veggies and dal.I am definitely trying this.Thank you for sharing.
Made this tonight and it was wonderful! Only problem was I thought “8 minute” meant the length of cooking time but oh well it was worth the 20 minute wait to eat! Very flavorful!
I have made this twice in the last 2 weeks. It is so good and so easy. And was a hit with a friend. Thank you.
I just made this. I am a big fan of your recipes and you have always gotten the seasoning just right. This is a great recipe but I think it needs more spice. I doubled the curry and then added that doubled amount in cumin. That pretty much did the trick.
I followed the recipe exactly using broccoli and zucchini as you did and this was pretty much the perfect recipe. Absolutely delicious and very easy!! I followed your advice too, and got the Simply Organic curry powder. Thank you!
Oops – I forgot to leave a rating in my comment- 5 stars!