Food was a lot more simpler in Nepal while growing up; we pretty much ate home-cooked meals, meat was purchased from the butchers next door and fresh milk was delivered to our doorstep everyday. My parents have always been the biggest advocates of eating at home although my mom was a little lax on letting us snack on candy bars, street food, chips, and instant noodles. But we didn’t worry about organic, GMO, trans fat, or whatever chemical scare we have these days – food was meant to be simply nutritious & wholesome! With so much research/information/fads around us these days, food and health industry seem to be only getting more confusing, complicated, and frustrating. I have been feeling a lot like that since last week because my cousins in the U.S., one after another are coming down with some sort of health problems. My aunt is always on top of making home-cooked meals using organic produce when possible while the other one is more into natural way of life. It feels helpless when you are a dietitian aka ‘nutrition expert’ by profession in the family but your own family members are dealing with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid problems etc.While these chronic conditions are multi-faceted, I wish there was more I could do to contribute to everyone’s health and well-being than just listen to them and tell them…’eating better will help’. Being a food blogger with a formal education in nutrition, I forget that I have a huge advantage to not only inspire but teach people how, what and why they should and shouldn’t eat. I have always struggled to find a niche for my blog because I like a little bit of everything but I have been thinking of transitioning Food, Pleasure, and Health into a full-blown “Healthy Cooking Blog” where the goal is to inspire people to make healthy decisions in their everyday life, be it via cooking, eating, grocery shopping etc. Also, I have yet to come across a healthy food blog with Nepali roots, so I want to explore that area because I am finding that a lot of my Nepali friends and families follow this little blog of mine. Before I share today’s recipe for “Red Lentil Daal”, I want to thank everyone for continually supporting, reading, and sharing because without you guys, Food, Pleasure, and Health would not be where it is today.Red Lentil Daal is the kind of recipe I want to share more on this space because it is nutritious, wholesome, and freaking easy to make so you have absolutely no reason not to make it. Daal is a quintessential element in many South East Asian cuisines, a great source of protein especially if you are vegetarian/vegan. It is relatively inexpensive when compared to other protein source such as meat and fish. I often eat daal as an accompaniment to rice or naan but it could be eaten as a soup with a side of salad or bread too if you wish. Last Fall, I shared a slow cooker version of yellow split pea daal (which by the way is fabulous) but if you need something instantly, opt for Red Lentils because they cook in less than 30 minutes (compared to 50-60 minutes for most yellow split peas). Typically, lentils are cooked in a pressure cooker in order to save time but it is not a common kitchen equipment (which is also very pain to clean) so for weeknights, red lentils are ideal and can be cooked in a saucepan.While lentils are a nutritional powerhouse, it needs some key spices such as turmeric, black pepper, and cumin to amp up the flavor. Additionally, they have some medicinal properties; turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and when combined with black pepper, it increases the bioavailability of turmeric in our body. Cumin has been long known to aid digestion and widely used in Indian cuisines.Typically, garlic and onions are not added, at least not in my house but I love the flavors of both garlic and onions with daal. Frying onion also helps thicken up the daal even more and lends little bit of sweetness. Daal may not be the first thing to come to your mind at this time of the year but the Nepali in me craves daal, especially when I need comfort food that it is full of nutrition. I hope you will give my version of ‘Red Lentil Daal” a try in your kitchen soon.
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon, any neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup sliced onions
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large sauce pan, heat oil and fry garlic and onions for 5-8 minutes stirring constantly. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, and cumin.
- Add lentil and water to the saucepan.
- Stir everything together and lower heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes,
- Add water if you would like for a thin consistency, otherwise remove from heat once lentils are soft and fully cooked.
- Store leftovers for 2-4 days in the refrigerator.
– What is your idea of comfort food?
-Would you be interested in Nepali recipes?