Vegan Recipe: Cashew-Coconut Lentil Dal

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Rough day at work? Craving Indian food, but don’t feel like going out? This rich and filling dal tastes indulgent, without heavy prep work or restaurant expense. Serve with fresh naan, chutney, and jasmine or basmati rice, for a delicious luscious-but-low-hassle Indian feast!


  • 2 cups brown lentils
  • 5 cups veggetable broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon curry powder (hot or mild, as you prefer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups raw cashews, divided
  • 1 (13- to 14-oz) can coconut milk
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoon(s) fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • salt, to taste (using unsalted homemade veggie broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt works well)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or Thai basil


In a deep skillet or medium-large saucepan, combine lentils, broth or water, ginger, garlic, cumin, curry powder, and turmeric. Bring to a gentle boil, cover loosely, and simmer for about 35 minutes.

While the lentils cook, combine the coconut milk with 1/2 cup of the cashews in a blender; process until very smooth. Toast the remaining 1 cup of cashews in a hot dry skillet for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly, just until they start to brown.

When lentils are cooked doneness, add frozen peas and coconut milk mixture to the lentil pot. Cook 5 more minutes or until lentils are soft and peas are done. Remove from heat, then stir in toasted cashews, lemon juice, and cilantro or basil. Makes about 8 generous servings, and is especially good alongside pineapple or mango chutney!

Production Notes

While the lentils do take a bit of time to cook, the actual hands-on prep time is pretty short.

To make it even easier, look for pre-chopped garlic and ginger. If you have a juicer, make ginger juice by peeling a large ginger root and running it through the juicer — stored in a jar in the fridge, ginger juice keeps for a week or so. As a time-saver, you can substitute about 1/2 tablespoon of ginger juice for 1 tablespoon of minced ginger; it’s also excellent for use in green (or other) smoothies. Save the ginger pulp after juicing, freeze it in a single layer on parchment paper, and use it as instant pre-chopped ginger — makes for easy-breezy recipe prep, when you’re pressed for time!

For almost-instant rice to accompany your dal, Tasty Bites makes jasmine and basmati rice that cook in 90 seconds — though brown jasmine rice cooks in about the same time as the lentils, so it’s pretty easy to start them both at the same time — then 5 minutes or so for the blending, juice-squeezing, and herb-chopping, and you’re all set.

This dal also works well in the crock pot. Just add lentils, broth, ginger, garlic, and spices except for salt; cook 6-8 hours on low. When you get home from work or are almost ready to eat, turn the slow cooker to high, add the peas, and cook for another half hour. Stir in remaining ingredients, and dinner’s done!


Image by the author.

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