I eat a big bowl of this heavenly soup every chance I get.


Fragrant Vegan Indian Dal

Many years ago, I spent time with an Indian family in Mumbai. At every meal, there was always a steaming pot of dal soup on the stove, made with the family's customary blend of spices. It seems like every home cook and restaurant have their own version of dal—which is a spice-infused lentil soup—but it is a classic Indian dish often served with rice, roti, and sides of simmered vegetables. 

My favorite twist on dal is this kitcheree, which combines lentils, rice, and fragrant Indian spices to make an incredibly nourishing, satisfying, and healing soup. I eat this at least three times a week and love it simmered with broccoli and topped with sliced cherry tomatoes and red onion. It's keeps for days in the refrigerator and makes a great at-work meal (just heat and serve!). I've been eating kitcheree for nearly 20 years, and I still can't get enough!

Serves 4

What you need:

  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole mustard seeds
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 6 cups water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 1/2 cup white or brown basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro

What you do:

  1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and coriander seeds. Sauté until toasted and highly aromatic. Add turmeric, cayenne, and cardamom, and cook for one minute before transferring mixture to a separate dish. Set aside.
  2. In a soup pot over medium-high heat, heat water. Add garlic, ginger, bay leaves, and cinnamon sticks. Cover and bring to a boil.

  3. Add lentils, rice, and toasted spices. Stir well to incorporate, cover, and turn heat down to medium-low. Allow mixture to simmer gently
    for 45 minutes.

  4. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper, stirring well. Ladle into bowls and top with fresh cilantro to serve.

Healthy hints:

  • >> Roasting your spices is one of the secrets to great Indian food. It's a simple process that brings out the incredible flavors of spices such as cumin, mustard, coriander, and cardamom. Many cooks fry their spices in oil, but I think dry roasting adds just as much flavor.

  • >> This soup is an excellent way to get more turmeric into your diet, which has been proven to help with inflammation, depression, joint pain, arthritis, cholesterol, and many more ailments. 

    >> At home, I reheat a serving on the stove and add broccoli florets while it's cooking. Once the broccoli is soft, I pour into a bowl and top with the fresh cilantro, sliced cherry tomatoes,  diced red onion, and a sprinkling of sea salt. Check out Healthy Vegan on Instagram for photos of the finished dish!