When it comes to cooking and meal prep, I try to choose foods that are easy to prepare, tasty and nutritious! I often choose recipes that include tons of veggies, spices, plant-based proteins, and will cook enough to last at least 2-3 days.
Black dahl is an excellent dish because it is not only delicious, but full of protein and medicinal spices. In addition, this particular recipe includes some healthy veggies, which further contributes to the dish’s health benefits.
When eating to better your health, cooking can become a highly enjoyable and rewarding process. In return, you may begin to allow yourself to make more time in the kitchen. Traditional Black Dahl includes spices such as cumin, coriander, cloves, garam masala and turmeric, all of which have many health benefits. Health benefits of these spices include:
- Cumin – Frequently used in many Indian dishes, this spice is considered a potent anti-oxidant. Oxidative stress can be counteracted in the body by consuming more anti-oxidant foods and spices, such as cumin. It is also high in minerals such as copper, iron, calcium, potassium, selenium, zinc, manganese and magnesium. Other health benefits include:
- Improved motility of the digestive tract
- Increased secretion of digestive enzymes
- Antiseptic properties to stop a common cold from coming on
- Cloves – Cloves are both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial and are therefore ideal to fight off infection. They are often found as an ingredient in anti-parasitic formulas, as well as for coughs, tooth aches and throat infections.
- Cinnamon – Only half a teaspoon daily is enough to reduce blood glucose levels, as well as LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol). Cinnamon is available in two forms, the more common one being cassia. “True cinnamon”, or Ceylon is the therapeutic form that should be used for its health benefits.
- Turmeric – This powerful herb has many anti-inflammatory health benefits. Curcumin, the active property found in turmeric helps to relieve joint pain, especially when the pain is associated with auto-immune-related inflammation. In addition, turmeric encourages the body to produce its own antioxidants, which last for hours after the herb is consumes.
It is not just the spices found in black dahl that makes it healthy. Lentils, ghee (clarified butter) and vegetables all play an important role in this dish.
Black lentils, when compared to other lentil variations, are quite small. When it comes to beans and legumes, typically the smaller in size, the easier they are to digest. This is important for individuals who suffer from weak digestion, low digestive enzyme output, IBS, and other digestive disorders. The discomfort of feeling bloated will be quite minimal, especially when the lentils are prepared correctly.
Lentils should be soaked prior to cooking for 8-12 hours. Fully submerge the lentils into a bowl of water, and let it sit covered. This process will remove the anti-nutrient “phytate”, or phytic acid, which otherwise is capable of stripping nutrients from the body. After the soaking phase, the lentils can either be used to cook, or you can sprout the lentils to receive the highest level of nutrients that are available.
One of the most essential ingredients in Black Dahl is the ghee, or “clarified butter”. Ghee is traditionally used in Indian cuisine, and adds not only flavour to a dish, but a creamy consistency. It is a saturated fat and a stable oil to use when cooking with high heat. It reduces inflammation in the body and makes other nutrients in foods become more bio-available. Ghee is also capable of promoting weight loss. Short-chain fatty acids in ghee are readily available for the body to burn as fuel and also help us burn other fats in the body.
Lastly, my not so traditional additions to the dish include cauliflower and organic refried black beans. Both of these are optional but I find the cauliflower to be a great addition to add bulk and texture, and the refried beans to help thicken the sauce.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that supports detoxification of the liver. It contains sulphur-rich substances, which aid in nutrient absorption and toxic elimination. It is also excellent for brain health, as it contains choline and B-vitamins. Choline is an important nutrient that helps repair cell membrane damage, along with phosphorus.
Beans are an excellent source of protein and dietary fibre. Pacific’s Organic Refried Black Beans have a thick consistency and are full of flavour. The only ingredients in this product are organic beans and spices, and it does not contain any damaged oils or fats.
Black Dahl Recipe
- 4 tablespoons ghee
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1-inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1 can (12 oz) whole organic tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup dried black lentils
- 4 cups of water
- 1 package (385 g) Pacific Organic Refried Black Beans
- 1 head of cauliflower
1 handful chopped, fresh cilantro
Heat the ghee over medium heat in a large pot. Once hot, add cumin powder and onion until the onion turns golden brown and has a transparent consistency. Add the garlic and ginger, and cook for an additional 1 minute. Add the can of tomatoes and remaining spices and cook for an additional 2 minutes, and continue to stir.
Add the water, lentils and let simmer for 45 minutes. Leave the lid on the pot with a small gap to allow steam to release, without letting all of the liquid evaporate completely. Stir occasionally. Serve into bowls and top with cilantro and enjoy! Serves 6-8.