October 14, 2019

Budget bites: Dal (Indian lentil stew)

I love anything with curry powder–the aromatics take the most mundane ingredients from pedestrian to gourmet.

While it might seem like a slightly pricey investment, I would suggest buying high-quality curry powder to keep in your spice cabinet. It can be used in everything from hummus to oven-roasted potatoes and chicken, and a little bit goes a long way (so the actual cost is pretty low if you buy it from a bulk retailer rather than pre-packaged in the jar.)

I suggest buying it from a place like ” target=”_blank”>Whole Spice in Napa. I promise, no one is paying me to link to those places…I just think they sell fantastic spices. But if you'd rather just pick up a jar at your local grocery store, that works almost as well!

Without further ado, the recipe!


serves: 3

cooking time: 30-40 minutes


  • 1 cup green lentils (you can use red lentils in a pinch, but the texture might be mushier)
  • 1 large onion, diced and divided into 1/2 cups
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp curry powder (you can add more if you'd like, but this is a safe starting amount)
  • salt to taste
  • cooked rice or store-bought naan for serving with the dal (optional)



1) Add lentils and water to medium saucepan with 2-4 generous shakes of salt

2) Add 1/2 cup onions, bring mixture to a boil, then simmer until tender (roughly 30 minutes)

3) In a small skillet, heat olive and add remaining 1/2 cup of onion. Cook until golden

4) Add curry powder and garlic to sauteed onions, and heat on a low flame until onions are totally carmelized

5) Drain lentils, return to saucepan, add curried onions, and cook an additional 5-10 minutes

6) Serve hot over rice or naan with condiments like avocado, chopped tomato, hot sauce or plain yogurt. Or you can simply enjoy it as is.