Apple Dal

by Valerie on September 29, 2010 · 6 comments

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When I saw that this month’s ingredient for S.O.S. Kitchen Challenge, sponsored by two of my favorite blogs, Affairs of Living and Diets, Desserts and Dogs, was apples, I initially had my heart set on making a gingery apple sauce. I called my friend Christina, who knows pretty much everything about apples (her grandparents owned an orchard if I recall correctly), and sought her sage advice on apples for applesauce.  She suggested Ginger Golds since I was going to be spicing the applesauce with ginger and perhaps cardamom. You might remember me mentioning the Ginger Golds in this post.

Despite my enthusiasm, by the time I finally set out to make this applesauce a few days later, the fridge was very empty in terms of dishes my husband or I could bring in for lunch (speaking of, have you seen my lunchbox series?). I was going to make some dal at the same time as the applesauce, when it occurred to me to try the two together.  Yes, some of it was a seed of inspiration, but a lot of it was a quest to have fewer dishes to wash.  So instead of an applesauce, I made a gingery apple dal.  Below is the recipe, with a no-oil variation note at the end.  I loved how the mustard seeds and ginger paired with the apples, which melted into the dal and gave the dish a great sweet savory flavor profile.  Perfect for this kitchen challenge:

This dish tastes indulgent, whether or not you make the no-oil variation, and is naturally gluten-free, so I am also submitting the recipe to Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and to The Gluten-Free Homemaker’s Gluten-Free Wednesday. I recommend pairing the dal with Pudla from Diets, Desserts and Dogs. You have heard me rave about the recipe here.  

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Apple Dal (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Glycemic, Soy-Free, No-Oil Option)
Makes 6-8 servings

  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over (I love these from Arrowhead Mills)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin half-moons
  • 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced (this about a heaping tablespoon)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 jalapenos, minced (remove the seeds if you prefer less heat)
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 Ginger Gold apples, cored and cut into large chunks (peeling the apples is optional, as is the type of apple you use. Gala apples would be great too)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil (I love this one from Garden of Life)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (I used yellow mustard seeds but brown would be fine)
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Soak the lentils for 30 minutes and drain. Place lentils in a large heavy pot (I used a 5 quart cast iron dutch oven) and add the water, onion, ginger, garlic, jalapenos, cinnamon and turmeric.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered.  Skim and discard any foam at the top.  Stir occasionally.  After about 30 minutes, the lentils should start to come apart.  Add the apples and simmer another 15 to 20 minutes.  At this point, you can stop the cooking process, or if you want a soupier dal, add some water and whisk the mixture until the lentils puree and the apples chunks are incorporated.Remove the cinnamon stick and any large chinks of garlic or ginger you find.

In a small frying pan, heat the coconut oil, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and optional cayenne.  Cover pan until the mustard seeds stop popping (about 30-60 seconds) and pour the spiced oil into the dal.  Stir, taste for seasoning and add salt (I found a quarter teaspoon was just right, but you may prefer more or less).

No-oil variation: I made this a second time on a day I was trying to fight my husband’s flu and wanted something very light to eat.  I followed the same approach as above for preparing the lentils and apples, but omitted the step of making the spiced oil.  Instead, I topped each bowl with the juice of half a lime, a big pinch of smoked salt, and some chopped raw jalapenos.  The flavors were completely different and very rich, despite omitting the oil.

Thank you to Affairs of Living and Diets, Desserts and Dogs for hosting another great S.O.S. Kitchen Challenge!

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim September 29, 2010 at 8:39 pm

I love this! What a great idea – I imagine the sweet flavor of the apple really compliments the warm spices, and goes very well with the lentils. I adore Indian food in every way, shape, and form, so you had me at the word "dal". Thanks for participating – I was hoping you would!!! xoxo Kim | http://www.affairsofliving.com

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2 Maggie September 29, 2010 at 10:39 pm

Hey Valerie – I love love love dal and I find it so easy to make when I'm feeling lazy! I've never thought of adding apples – great idea. I really wanted to make something savory for SOS but just couldn't get inspired. I have two questions for you – should I be soaking my lentils? I never do! And what does the mustard seed popping do? I made one of Ali's recipes and she suggested this too. I'd love to know why! Such a long comment :)

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3 Linda September 30, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Looking over the ingredients list, I would say that it is full of great flavor. Sounds like a great combination.

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4 Ricki September 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm

What a great take on dal! I already love dal, but pairing it with apples. . . genius. I can't wait to make this (with the pudla, of course!) ;) Thanks for entering the challenge again this month, and another winning recipe. :D

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