Simple Dal Recipe
Lentils are ideal for weaning as they cook down until soft, a bit like a natural “puree”! You can add whatever veg you like to this although softer veg like sweet potato and pumpkin are a nice easy texture for early weaners - you can easily mash them down with a fork or leave them chunkier for little hands to grab.
If you are baby-led-weaning you can thicken the dal up for loaded spoons, either by cooking for slightly longer or using less water, or mixing through some cooked quinoa (which is a brilliant extra protein boost). If your baby doesn’t get on with loaded spoons leave the veg in chunky batons for them to hold and just let them dig in (or you can try serving it on a flat bread).
Adding a can of coconut milk to this will make a lovely sweet and creamy soup (or replace 1.5 cups of cooking water with a can of coconut milk for a coconut dal). I also like to add some chopped spinach (frozen or fresh is fine) right at the end for an extra hit of greens.
The best bit about this dish is you can cook up one pot and then adapt it to suit your family. I tend to add salt and chilli for the grownups. Toasted nuts and seeds on top are also very tasty. For my fussy three year old I find it best to add a can of chopped tomatoes whilst cooking and blend to a smooth soup.
½ tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
¼ onion finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves finely chopped
1 cup of split red lentils - rinsed well
3.5 cups of water (or 2 cups of water and 1 can of coconut milk. For soup add extra water/coconut milk/chopped tomatoes to desired consistency and adjust seasoning to taste)
1 inch of peeled ginger
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 cup of chopped pumpkin/butternut squash/sweet potato
Optional: any extra veg you fancy, chopped spinach
To serve (optional): cooked quinoa, squeeze of lemon, toasted nuts and seeds (for older children and adults), dessicated coconut
- Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan and add the mustard seeds.
- When the mustard seeds start to pop add the diced onion and cook until soft (don’t let them burn)
- When the onions are soft (after around 10-15mins of cooking) add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add the rinsed lentils, water/coconut milk/chopped tomatoes and veg.
- Let the lentils cook for a few minutes and use a spoon to remove any of the scum that rises to the surface.
- Chop the peeled ginger into two and drop the chunks in.
- Add the turmeric and cumin (you might also want to add a spoon of curry powder or similar for more seasoning - especially if you are making a soup). Cover and simmer for around half an hour until lentils and veg are fully cooked.
- Once the lentils are cooked add any spinach/greens. Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat.
- Remove the chunks of ginger before serving.
- Pictured are a few different serving suggestions!
If the adults prefer more spice or salt, these can always be added separately.