Fragrant Kidney Bean and Lentil Dal (vegan and gluten-free)

I posted this photo of my Fragrant Kidney Bean and Lentil Dal from LTEV on facebook recently.  There was such interest and rave reviews about the dish that I decided to deliver a super-quick post today with the recipe.

Please excuse the lack of ‘chatting’ today… I am so busy with Christmas preparations and some exciting work developments that I am going to post and run!  Here it is… and oh, read to the end of the post for some giveaway news!

Fragrant Kidney Bean Lentil Dal RECIpage link to print/share

This dish is a dal of sorts, and is especially fragrant and fla- vorful, rich with spices, and yet not spicy in a hot sense. I enjoy how this dish is not hot-spicy, however, you can always add a few splashes of hot sauce if you like.

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp water or organic extra-virgin coconut oil

1 cup onion, diced

1 ¼ tsp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds (see note)

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp allspice

pinch or two crushed red pepper flakes (or more/less to taste, see note)

1 cinnamon stick (or 1/2 tsp cinnamon)

2 ½ – 3 cups water (see note)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed or good quality orange juice (see note)

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1½ tbsp freshly grated ginger

1 cup red lentils (rinse before adding to pot)

1 can (14oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or black beans)

2 dried or fresh bay leaves

Hot sauce to taste (optional, see note)

Freshly chopped cilantro (for garnish, optional)

Heat the water or oil in a large pot over high or medium-high heat. Add the onion, salt, pepper, spices, and cinnamon stick. Stir, cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 21⁄2 cups of the water, and the orange juice, garlic, ginger, lentils, kidney beans, and bay leaves. Stir, bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium or medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove the cinnamon stick (leaving the stick in will impart a stronger cinnamon flavor, but this can be overpowering), and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the lentils are fully dissolved and the mixture has thickened. For a thinner consistency, add the extra water, anywhere from 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup, or more, if desired. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Season with additional salt, if desired. Add hot sauce to taste and sprinkle with fresh cilantro (if using).

If This Apron Could Talk: The consistency of this dish can be kept thicker, for scooping with roti bread or even whole-grain tortillas, or made thinner to serve over rice, or to eat more like a stew. Start with the 21⁄2 cups of water and then thin out later to your desired consistency.

Ingredients 411: I am a fennel lover. The flavor of fennel, anise, licorice— all resonate very favorably for me. If you also love fennel, go ahead and use a full 1 teaspoon (I usually do). But if you are a little more tentative about the fennel flavor, use just 1⁄2 teaspoon. Just don’t leave it out alto- gether; it really combines beautifully with the spice profile in the dish.

Kid-Friendly: If serving this to children, you might want to omit the crushed red pepper flakes and reserve the hot sauce for the adult individ- ual portions. If you like things spicy, feel free to add hot sauce to the dal to taste, or add more crushed red pepper flakes earlier in the cooking process with the other spices.

Savvy Subs and Adds: The orange juice brings a lovely flavor to this dish, but if you don’t have any oranges or juice on hand, feel free to replace with water.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with Indian-Inspired Rice, roti bread, and chut- ney (if you like).

Please try this dish and let me know what you think!  Also, be sure to connect with me on my facebook page.  You Plant-Powered Santa is delivering some prizes via facebook next week…  ‘like‘ to get the news! 


  1. Debbie says

    I made this dal for the first time over the weekend and my personal added recipe notes say to quadruple the recipe next time. The leftovers are even better than the first day. Indian food is a favorite, but those restaurant buffets were filled with ghee and who knows what else. This recipe is absolutely delicious! Thank you so much for sharing, Dreena. It’s easy and every bit as good as my favorite restaurant.

  2. says

    I made a version of this tonight (based on which ingredients I had on hand). It was wonderful! My one year old enjoyed it too over quinoa. Thank you!

    • Dreena says

      absolutely! I have even doubled it so I could have enough TO freeze for another time. :) Glad it was a hit for you Jeanne!

  3. Diane says

    Made this this morning. Smells wonderful and Tate delicious. Having it tonight with baked, no oil, okra “fries”. I am enjoying your plant strong, no oil recipes very much.

  4. says

    Hi Dreena,

    Thank you for this recipe! I prepared it for me and my parents tonight with sides of fresh green beans, basmati rice and raw veggies. While I didn’t have all spices and had to sub giant white beans for the kidney beans it still turned out fabulous. Definitely a dish I’d have again as all of us were very pleased.
    Miss Polkadot recently posted..Christmas counts more [than calories]My Profile

  5. says

    This recipe looks amazing! I am always searching for good lentil recipes that I know the meat-loving members of my family will also enjoy. This one is sure to hit the spot. :) Thanks for posting. I also blog about the high protein vegetarian active lifestyle at if you are interested. Thanks for perpetuating a healthy legacy and for being an inspiration to all vegetarians!

    Take care!

  6. Tiffany says

    Hi Dreena,

    I made your festive chickpea tart today and it was delicious!! Thanks you so much for a great recipe :)

  7. Jane says

    Just made this to great acclaim from 12yo daughter. This is very noteworthy as her dad (who i might add never uses a recipe! ) is a very accomplished daal maker. I used black beans cos that’s what i had and it really was quite special – aromatic and tasty. LTEV is absolutely foolproof!
    Are you writing a new book Dreena and will the new 13 recipes be in it? I just can’t afford to buy 2 more cookbooks at the moment to take advantage of the offer!!!
    Next year when i have funds i want to buy another of your books but i can’t decide which one?!

    • Dreena says

      Hi Jane, well thanks so much for that feedback, I take that as a great compliment! :) As for the 13 recipes, I might work them into a stand-alone ebook – have to sort out some details. Thanks again!

      • Jane says

        oh what a great idea! would be happy to pay tp download these, they sound so exciting (as you know i’m on tenterhooks about the sweet potato soup already!!!!).

    • Dreena says

      me too, and I originally had more fennel seeds in this recipe b/c I love that anise flavor so much – so feel free to add the optional additional amount! Enjoy. :)

  8. Dreena says

    That’s terrific Tania, thanks! And, more terrific that you made the vegan switch recently – well done, keep on!! 😀

  9. Tania says

    I’ve made this dish a couple of times already since turning ‘almost vegan’ about 3 months ago and we all love it. It’s one of our favourites.

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