This warming red lentil dhal recipe has ingredients that not only provide flavor and aroma, but are also brimming with health benefits. It seems much of the wisdom of past generations, especially in the areas of Chinese Medicine, Ayurvedic, folklore, and medicinal herbs is being investigated by modern science.
Lentil Dhal is a dish my previous mother-in-law made when visiting from India (my ex-husband is from India). Like chicken noodle soup for a cold, it makes you feel good, inside and out. Warming soups are comfort foods, the world around!
*There are several variations in the spelling of Dhal – daal, dal, dahl. The Sanskrit word “dhal” means “to split”. A dhal recipe includes split beans or lentils. Pronounced like “doll”.
Warming Red Lentil Dhal Recipe
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil (olive oil works as well, but the sesame oil adds a different flavor).
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup red lentils
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon honey
- Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon and allow to cook one more minute.
- Add broth, tomatoes, lentils and bring just to a boil, then turn heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are soft and tender.
- Add honey and salt. Let sit for a few minutes more, then serve.
We enjoy ours Indian style served over basmati rice.
Did you know garlic is a medicinal herb? Science is starting to catch up with the ancient wisdom. The National Institute of Health (NIH) reviews the scientific literature and here is a (shortened) list of some of the health benefits of garlic:
- reduces blood pressure and slows the development of atherosclerosis
- cancer prevention, specifically for colon, rectal, and stomach cancers,
- fighting stress and fatigue, and maintaining healthy liver function.
Ginger is considered a stimulating herb and aids circulation, helping to warm you up from the inside out. Other applications of ginger include:
- treating stomach problems including nausea, gas, and diarrhea,
- pain relief from sore muscles or arthritis,
- treatment of upper respiratory infections.
About 30% of the calories from lentils come from protein; combined with their high fiber content, lentils can keep you feeling full longer than many vegetarian dishes. And they are a good source of iron.
Cumin is useful in treating stomach problems such as upset and gas. And cumin is surprisingly high in iron. Research is looking at cumin’s anti-cancer properties.
Turmeric is a warming herb – it has the ability to stimulate the circulatory system and move heat through the body. In addition, there are thousands of studies on the effects of turmeric and its chief active component, curcumin. Here are some of the studies being conducted on the health benefits of turmeric and its active compound curcumin:
- Kansas State University research found that adding certain spices, including turmeric, can reduce the levels of heterocyclic amines — carcinogenic compounds that are formed when meats are barbecued, or fried — by up to 40 percent,
- University of South Dakota research suggests pretreatment with curcumin makes cancer cells more vulnerable to chemo and radiotherapy,
- studies at the University of Texas indicate that curcumin inhibits the growth of a skin cancer, melanoma, and slows the spread of breast cancer into the lungs,
- An overview published in Advanced Experimental Medical Biology in 2007 states that, “Curcumin has been shown to exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anticancer activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illnesses.”
Read more about the amazing health benefits of turmeric and enjoy some fun recipes using turmeric:
I find it comforting to know that the natural foods we consume can offer flavor, nourishment, and safety.
What about you, do you have a favorite recipe for a cold day?