Indian Dal with Cauliflower & Tomatoes

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One time I went to an Indian grocery store in search of “dal.” I’d found a recipe online that sounded amazing but was confused by this mysterious dal. So I treked across town to the Indian speciality store. I asked for dal and the worker walked down one of the two aisles and hands me a 10 lb bag of…lentils.

There are various kinds of dal, as far as I could tell, including some that weren’t very lentil-ish looking. I didn’t want a 10 lb bag or even a 5 lb bag, so to make my trip not completely pointless, I got a fresh, homemade, HOT samosa. Hot as in very very fresh and also very very spicy. I don’t do spicy….despite having a dad that eats habaneros. The flavor  of the samosa was incredible – at least from what I could taste before my taste buds disintegrated. Luckily, I had bought some naan from the freezer section so I could go home and gauze my mouth in bready goodness. (why is naan so dang good??)

Although I don’t have 10 lbs of dal, I’m still working my way through some other pantry staples and have tons of rice, beans and lentils on hand.  I’m trying to use up food I have in my cupboards instead of buying new things at Whole Foods each week. I just had to buy fresh cauliflower and cilantro for this. Everything else I had on hand.

This dal won’t burn your mouth. Unless you put in the whole pepper, seeds and all. And even then, you might still be ok. I don’t do spicy. But go right ahead, my brave friends. (Remember when I was brave with wasabi?)

Indian Lentils with Cauliflower & Tomatoes

Inspired by Aarti’s Mum’s Everyday Lentils
Takes about 1.5 hours total to make (30 minutes is inactive with lentils soaking)
Serves 6


  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, seeds removed, diced (optional)
  • salt

Seasoning oil:

  • 3/4 t cumin
  • 3/4 t dry mustard
  • 3/4 t turmeric
  • 1/2 t paprika
  • 1 T canola oil
  • cilantro, chopped



  1. Rinse lentils and then put in a large bowl and cover completely with water. Let soak for 30 minutes and then drain.
  2. In a medium pot, combine the 2 c water, onion, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, chili, cauliflower and lentils. Bring to a boil then lower heat, cover pot and gently simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are very tender.
  3. Add salt to taste. I used about 2 teaspoons.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, dry mustard, turmeric, and paprika.
  5. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the spices and stir quickly. (Stand back a little so you don’t get splashed by the oil). Let sizzle for about 30 seconds until very fragrant. No longer or they’ll burn!
  6. Pour the oil mixture into the lentils, again being careful not to get burned when the oil hits the lentil mixture, and stir well.
  7. Serve over brown rice and top with cilantro.

Additional serving option: Put in a small tortilla with hummus and spinach, Fold over and warm both sides in a skillet until the tortilla is slightly crispy. (This was great for leftovers at lunch the next day!)

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    16 responses to “Indian Dal with Cauliflower & Tomatoes”

    1. Mmm! This makes me want Indian food. It was really good to see you while you were here. Though, it wasn’t long enough.

    2. Aw this recipe totally takes me back to my childhood! I’m with you – I don’t like a lot of spice, but I like a little bit for flavoring. Even though I’m Indian – I can’t go super super spicy like most of my relatives can! There are tons of different kinds of lentils for dal – if you’re feeling adventurous you should try toor or moong dal next time 🙂

      • that makes me feel better that you can’t handle spice either! a few of my closest friends are from Indian and they make fun of me all the time!

        Would you want to do a guest post with one of your recipes with more adventurous dal??

        • Aw! haha yeah – I get made fun of too so I know how you feel! I’d love to do a guest post with some more adventurous dal! Do you want to email me so we can work out the specifics? Can’t wait to share this recipe with you!

    3. Oh yes, this looks delicious. I can never get Indian food right, but I continue to keep trying and hope to hit the mark one of these times. This doesn’t look too tough 🙂

    4. Hi Teri,
      I have been reading your blog for a while now and love your recipes. I never left any comments here, but I had to this time. I am Indian and make dal almost every week. You should definitely try toor dal. Trust me the 5lb bag wont go to waste 🙂 And there are many easy recipes online, my fav is spinach dal. I hope you will give it a try.

    5. I LOOVE Cauliflower! But spice is not something I can handle very well after a few bites. I want to branch out with different cooking styles – do you have any favorite Indian dishes that you make?

    6. These look so good. Usually lentils can be bland but I can’t wait to try!

    7. So glad I checked your blog- this sounds awesome! I’m addicted to Indian food right now but have only made Chana Masala and Veg Marrakesh at home. AND I have a ton of lentils I need to use. Must make this soon!!

    8. I second Ani’s question. At what point does the cauliflower get cooked?


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