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This easy weeknight Root Vegetable Dal Recipe is the perfect answer to dinner this week. It’s easily customizable based on what you have on hand and makes a hearty, vegetarian soup recipe full of nourishing ingredients!
I’m a major cookbook collector. I probably have over 100 of them! I love cooking directly from them, getting inspiration from them, and honestly just paging through them and taking in the pictures and stories. The First Mess was my favorite cookbook for years and still is one of my go-tos. Laura is a fellow Canadian and does whole, plant-based cooking better than anyone! If you’re feeling inspired when it comes to produce, you need to check out her blog and cookbook.
I’m so excited that Laura gave me permission to share this dal recipe from The First Mess. It’s hearty, packed full of flavor and so easy to make. My ideal weeknight meal!
What is dal?
Dal (sometimes spelled “daal” or “dahl/dhal”) is both an ingredient and a dish. As an ingredient, it is a type of pulse typically either split peas or lentils. As a dish, it is traditionally a spiced lentil stew made from simmering the ingredient until broken down. This recipe is based off the traditional dish but adds in some root vegetables for an added nutritional boost. There are many different flavor variations of dal including masoor dal, chana dal, moong dal or dal tadka (amond many others).
- Red Lentils – You could easily replace with any color lentils or even split peas. Honestly, any type of beans or pulses could be used in this recipe.
- Root vegetables of choice – I used butternut squash but you can use a combination of squash, carrots, celery root, etc.
- Yellow onion – chopped onion along with lentils and veggies makes the base of this dal recipe.
- Cherry or grape tomatoes – you can also substitute with canned diced tomatoes.
- Garlic cloves – Ideally use fresh garlic rather than the pre-minced variety.
- Fresh ginger – Use a fresh ginger root for the best flavor.
- Lemon wedges for serving – Just give a squeeze to your lemon wedges for a fresh lemon juice topping. Limes can easily be substituted.
- Fresh cilantro – you could also substitute with a different fresh herb.
- Coconut oil – for your spice oil. If desired you could substitute it with melted butter
- Seasonings and spices – ground turmeric, dried chili flakes, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, salt and pepper.
How to Make This Vegetable Dal Recipe
STEP 1: COOK VEGGIES + SIMMER DAL
Add rinsed lentils, diced root vegetables, diced onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, turmeric and chili flakes to a large stock pot. Pour water over the ingredients and stir to combine.
Bring pot to a boil over medium heat and then simmer for 40 minutes, whisking often. In the last 10 minutes, whisk the dal vigorously to encourage the breaking down of the lentils. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
STEP 2: MAKE SPICE OIL
Make the spice oil by melting coconut oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds to the coconut oil and stir to combine. When the spices are fragrant, remove from the heat.
STEP 3: GARNISH + SERVE
To serve, gently spoon the toasted spice oil on top of the vegetable dal or stir in to combine. Garnish with chopped cilantro and lemon wedges. Enjoy on its own, over rice or with naan.
Perfect Pairings for Your Dal Recipe
Naan – a traditional Indian flatbread. You could use store-bought or homemade.
Rice – I like pairing my dal with basmati rice but jasmine rice or even brown rice works great.
Easy Swaps + Substitutions
- Add protein – lentils are actually a great source of plant-based protein but if you’d like to you can add some cooked rotisserie chicken, sausage or any preferred type of protein.
- Swap the veggies – This dal recipe is super customizable. I use root vegetables from which you can choose any variety but you can sub in any vegetables you like. Alternatively you can add in some tender greens at the end of cooking for a nutritional boost.
- Change the lentils – Use any color lentils or beans in place of red lentils. Note that if you’re using dried beans you will probably want to cook them first as they tend to take much longer to cook than lentils.
- Use broth in place of water – you can easily substitute vegetable broth or even chicken broth in place of water. This will up the nutrient content and flavors.
- Make it creamy – add 1/2 cup of coconut milk to your dal recipe for a creamier version.
Fridge: Store leftover vegetable dal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Reheat in microwave or on stovetop.
Freezer: Freeze leftovers in freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Remove from fridge to thaw on counter for several hours or overnight in fridge. Reheating in microwave or on stovetop.
More Lentil Recipes
- Warm Lentil and Sweet Potato Salad
- Thai Curry Carrot Lentil Soup
- Tuscan Kale and Lentil Soup
- Lentil and Mushroom Veggie Burgers
- Instant Pot Lentil Soup
Root Vegetable Dal
This easy Weeknight Root Vegetable Dal Recipe is the perfect answer to dinner this week. It’s easily customizable based on what you have on hand and makes a hearty, vegetarian soup recipe full of nourishing ingredients!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Cook
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 1 cup finely diced root vegetables of choice (carrots, sweet potatoes, celery root, butternut squash)*
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 x 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- pinch of dried chili flakes
- 3 1/2 cups water
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the Spice Oil:
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp cumin (whole or ground)
- 1/2 tsp coriander (whole or ground)
- 1/2 tsp mustard (whole or ground)
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish
- lemon wedges, for serving
- To a stock pot add the rinsed lentils, diced root vegetables, diced onion, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, turmeric and chili flakes.
- Pour water on top and stir.
- Bring pot to a boil over medium heat and then simmer for 40 minutes, whisking often.
- In the last 10 minutes, whisk the dal vigorously to encourage the breaking down of the lentils.
- Season with salt and pepper.
For the Spice Oil
- In a small saute pan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds (or ground in my case). Once the seeds are fragrant (about 5 minutes), remove from heat.
- Gently spoon the toasted spice oil on top of the dal or stir in if you would like.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice from lemon wedges.
Keywords: Dal recipe, dal, root vegetable dal,