As you must know by now, we love to spend time experimenting in the kitchen. And this recipe is a little piece of perfection that came out of a day of experimentation. Not that dal (traditional Indian legume dish) is that surprisingly different, but what went into it that was exciting. This week we decided to make our own coconut milk to add richness to our dal; and believe us this was no easy feat but tons of fun! Read on to find out more about coconut and how you can bring some excitement to your kitchen.
Pictured above is a lovely young coconut. A young coconut is picked earlier in the growing process and has not had the time to develop the traditional dark brown outer shell or tough meat inside, meaning it will be much easier to process in your kitchen! To open we suggest a sturdy cutting board and sharp knife to chip away at the pointed end (warning this can get messy!) until you've cracked into the hollow core. Make sure to drain the precious coconut water before you fully open the coconut to expose the soft flesh inside just perfect for making coconut milk. But why go through all this trouble you ask? Well...coconut is nutritionally an amazing food! Coconut meat is naturally high in saturated fat and, believe it or not, we are not telling you to stay away from the saturated fat found in coconut. The saturated fat from coconut is mostly medium-chain triglycerides (or MCT), a type of fat that is absorbed differently in the body than other fats we ingest. When you consume MCT, it is directly transported from your gut to your liver and used first as fuel versus being stored in fat tissues. Saturated fat also helps our bodies to better absorb fat soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, K. Finally, about half of the fatty acids found in coconut is lauric acid, known for its antiviral and antimicrobial benefits. As if this wasn't enough, the water found within the coconut is somewhat of a "super food". Coconut water is full of natural electrolytes, including potassium and salt, and contains a hint of simple carbohydrates (sugars) making it a perfect re-hydration beverage. So enough talking about coconut and let's get to making coconut milk and our delicious dal.
Yellow Coconut Dal
PREP TIME: 20 mins
TOTAL TIME: 60-70 mins
2 cups dried white lentils
3 cups reduced sodium vegetable stock*
3 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1 medium yellow onion
1 Tbsp ghee
20 oz yellow tomatoes (~2 1/2 cups chopped)
20 oz bag raw spinach (2 1/2 cups)
1/2 Serrano chili pepper (chopped with seeds removed)
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp stone ground mustard or dried mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste before serving
1 cup fresh, homemade coconut milk (made from one young coconut)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 cup sesame seeds
Thoroughly rise and drain lentils then place in a medium pan. Add 3 cups vegetable stock, 3 cups water, and turmeric to the pan and place on medium heat. Bring lentils to a boil, turn down heat to low, cover pan with a lid, and cook for ~40 minutes until tender then set aside.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan add ghee and chopped onion and saute on medium heat until translucent with golden edges. Add chopped tomatoes, spinach, Serrano chili pepper, ginger, garlic, mustard, cumin, and sea salt to the pan with the onions and continue to cook until the tomatoes break down into a sauce, ~ 25 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, remove the water and flesh from the coconut (coconut opening instructions above!). Add 1/4 cup coconut water and all the flesh to a high speed blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. A standard young coconut will make about 1 cup of coconut milk.
Add cooked lentils and coconut milk to the sauce pan and continue to cook for about 10 minutes to fully combine the flavors. Serve warm over cooked rice, quinoa, or grain of your choice. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt, squeeze of fresh lemon juice, chopped cilantro, and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
This dal is just so warming in so many ways. It has a gentle spice from the turmeric and ginger, a rich creaminess from the homemade coconut milk, and is satisfyingly filling from the hearty lentils. Simply a perfect winter meal to brighten your spirits. We hope that you have some fun in your kitchen making this one and enjoy every last bite.
Jess and Cecelia
Jess and Cecelia welcome you to our kitchen. We are fun-loving and passionate foodies working to make the world a healthier, happier place one plant based recipe at a time.