Golden Red Lentil Dal with Cilantro-Speckled Basmati


Asking for help isn’t something that comes to me naturally as I’ve always been a fiercely independent worker. My previous supervisors always commented on this trait almost immediately whether it was in an academic or business setting, and I often took a lot of pride in the fact that I could do things on my own. I never considered that this trait could potentially hold me back from growth. I guess I feared that asking for help would be a sign that I was incompetent, so I avoided it as much as possible. And I often thought that if I could just figure out how to manage my time better, I could do it all on my own. Case in point: In the 7 years that I’ve grown this blog, I’ve yet to hire a team member to help my husband and me.

However, this past year has helped me realize otherwise, at least in some areas of my life (I still have a long way to go). Working with Ashley on the photography for the next book has allowed me to focus more on my biggest passions – the writing and recipe creation – not to mention finish on time! Our working relationship has really opened my eyes to what I could achieve if I just asked for a bit more help. It has been a total light bulb moment. You know what else I realized? Collaboration is so darn fun. So much more fun than trying to do it on my own!

One of my many goals for this blog is to post at regular intervals once again. An idea I’ve had is to step back from food photography, so I can streamline my workflow and focus on recipe development and writing. I often have recipes in cue waiting to be shared with you all, but the one thing that holds me back is often the fact that I haven’t shot the photography for the post. I adore photography and really grappled with this idea, but in the end I also know that something needs to change if I’m going to be able to grow. So in spirit of collaborating with other talented people, I’m excited to tell you that Ashley will be shooting the food photography for my upcoming blog recipes! It kicked off last week with my Pumpkin Spice Latte with Homemade Pumpkin Spice Syrup post, as some of you already noticed. This doesn’t mean that I won’t do food photography in the future, but it’s definitely working for this stage in my life. For the first time in a very long time, I have the next 2 blog posts already in the works and scheduled in my calendar. It feels awesome to be getting into a groove again and I know this is only the beginning. I will be sure to keep you posted with my other plans!


Golden Red Lentil Dal with Cilantro-Speckled Basmati
Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free

This easy, flavorful curry is a great one to whip up during the workweek, and leftovers only get better the next day. Light coconut milk makes this curry so luxuriously rich and decadent-tasting, while still feeling quite light and energizing. It definitely won’t weigh you down, but I can promise it’ll warm and comfort you on a chilly day. While it’s lovely all on its own (enjoyed like a rich, thick stew), I love it even more spooned overtop my cilantro-speckled basmati rice with toasted pepita seeds, sliced green onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. The amount of broth called for yields for a very thick consistency; if you’d like it thinner and more “soup-like” feel free to thin it out with a bit more broth (if so, you might need to also increase the spices and seasonings as the extra broth will dilute the flavours). This comforting curry recipe is adapted from Super Fresh: Super Natural, Super Vibrant Vegan Recipes by Jennifer Houston and Ruth Tal (2015, Penguin Canada) which is a new cookbook featuring the recipes from Fresh (!), one of my favourite vegan restaurants here in Toronto.

Serves 4 (makes 5 1/2 cups)

Prep Time
15 Minutes
Cook time
25 Minutes
Total Time
40 Minutes

For the curry:2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or grapeseed oil1 1/2 cups diced onion (about 1 medium onion)3 large or 4 medium garlic cloves, minced2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger1 1/2 cups peeled and finely diced carrots (about 2-3 large)*2 teaspoons curry powder, or to taste**1 teaspoon ground cumin1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric1 1/2 cups dried red lentils1 (14-oz/398ml) can light coconut milk2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more if desired to thin the broth1/2-3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste1 (5-oz) package baby spinachFor the rice:1 cup dry basmati rice1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil or vegan butter1 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, or as needed1 cup unpacked fresh cilantro, large stems removed and finely chopped***Fine sea salt and black pepper, to tasteSqueeze of fresh lime juice, to tasteSuggested toppings:Green onions, thinly slicedFresh cilantro leaves, choppedToasted pepita seeds (shelled pumpkin seeds)Squeeze of lime juice, optional

For the curry: Add the oil in a large pot and increase heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine. Saute over medium heat for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the ginger and carrots, and continue sauteing for another few minutes over medium heat. Add the curry powder, cumin, and turmeric. Stir well. Cook for a minute, until fragrant. Pick over and rinse the lentils in a fine mesh sieve. Stir in the entire can of coconut milk, red lentils, broth, and salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered with the lid ajar, for about 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils and carrots are tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom. Stir in a touch more broth if you’d like a slightly thinner consistency. After cooking, stir in all of the spinach until wilted. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Add the rice into a medium pot along with the oil and broth. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid, and cook for 12-16 minutes, until the rice is soft and tender. Fluff with a fork and stir in the cilantro. Season to taste with salt and lime juice. Keep the lid on until ready to serve. Add a generous scoop of rice on a plate or bowl and top with a couple ladlefuls of curry. Add your desired toppings and serve immediately. Leftovers will keep in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 4-6 days. The curry can also be frozen for up to 4 weeks, possibly longer. For easy freezer-storage, add the cooled curry into a freezer-safe bag, press out the air, and freeze on a flat surface. Thaw overnight in the fridge, or simply leave on the counter until mostly thawed.

*The smaller you dice the carrots, the faster they cook! I opt for thinly sliced carrots here to hasten cook time. You don’t have to dice quite as small as in the recipe photos though.

**Be sure to use a good-quality curry powder (one you enjoy the taste of) as a poor-tasting one can throw the flavors off. I am quite fond of Simply Organic curry powder.

***Not a cilantro fan? Simply leave it out and prepare the rice without it. No biggie!


Photography credit: Ashley McLaughlin Photography

Last but not least, I want to wish all my fellow Canadians a very Happy Thanksgiving! We’ve been blessed with gorgeous, warm weather this weekend, and I hope you are too. Thank YOU for coming back to this blog time and time again, and for making this career so personally rewarding.

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