Easy Lentil Dal with Cilantro Yogurt

lentil dal

Hi guys. It’s been a few and I apologize. I hope you’ve been eating (and living) well. And I hope you’re getting more sleep than me!

I’m trying really hard to work less on the weekends – my normal schedule is to work most of Sunday grading, planning, and generally playing catch up to everything I can’t get done during the work week. The pile of grading never seems to end, nor does the “to do” list for each class. I never thought I would take more work home as a teacher than I ever did as an attorney; it’s a good thing I love teaching!

But with my personal work-life balance of less weekend work in full play, I’m moving that work to the week nights and that kinda sucks. I’m tiirreedd. My weekends are better, but nights a little more stressful. And thus, I’ve had less time to post. But we make those choices in life, right? Any tips on keeping work out of your weekends?

But hey, today I’m back and ready to serve you some delicious meal ideas … starting with this super easy and healthy vegetarian main dish.

This is a great meal to double up and take as lunch during the week or to have on hand for easy leftovers. I recently served this to someone who “hates curry” and he said it was the first time he liked curry in a dish. The lentils are lightly spiced with curry so it’s a great way to introduce the spice. If you don’t like spice at all, omit the chili powder. This is a really mildly spiced dal and something even kids should enjoy. Oh, and I added some vegetable stock powder to the lentils – feel free to substitute the water for vegetable or chicken stock or add a seasoning powder.

Serving suggestion: Over basmati rice with lemon wedges for squeezing and with an arugula, red onion, and avocado salad.

Easy Lentil Dal with Cilantro Yogurt
Recipe Type: Vegetarian Entree
Author: Adapted from Real Simple magazine
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4-6
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • S/P
  • 2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 4 cups water (or veggie/chicken stock)
  • 1 lemon, juiced (and lemon wedges for serving, optional)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the carrots, onion, curry powder, chili powder, and 1/2 tsp. each of S/P. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the lentils and 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the lentils are very tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice and/or salad to serve with the lentils.
  4. Combine the yogurt and cilantro in a small bowl and season with S/P.
  5. Serve the lentils with the cilantro yogurt and lemon wedges.



Chicken Makhani – Indian Butter Chicken

 Chicken Makhani - Indian Butter Chicken

 This is one our favorite Indian dishes so it was fitting that it was the first Indian dish I tried at home. We eat a lot of Indian and Pakistani food, but it is always out.  I just assumed it would be very difficult to make at home because I know very little about traditional Indian cooking and spices. But, once I started to do some research it seemed this would be a pretty simple dish – and it was. And it was super tasty. This recipe is not very spicy (and we like a lot of heat), so up the cayenne (and maybe throw in some chiles) if you want some heat. I’ve include raita, naan, and basmati rice in the recipe as accompaniments but you can serve with whatever you choose.

Chicken Makhani – Indian Butter Chicken

Recipe Type: Entree
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Adapted from several food.com/allrecipes.com versions
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 6-8
  • For raita:
  • ¼ cup cucumber, finely diced
  • ¼ cup white onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup tomato, finely diced
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Optional: fresh mint and/or cilantro
  • For sauce:
  • 1 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (29 oz.) can tomato puree
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups half and half
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • ½ cup water
  • For chicken:
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil
  • 3.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Optional: naan bread, basmati rice, and fresh lime to serve
  1. Prepare the raita by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. peanut oil in a large pot, skillet, or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Sauté the shallot and onion a few minutes until tender. Stir in the butter, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring for a few minutes until well combined. Add the tomato puree, stirring to combine. Stir in the yogurt, half and half, cayenne, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally while you cook the chicken.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp. peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken, stirring frequently, with the garam masala and cayenne pepper, until cooked through.
  4. Add the chicken, and juices, to the butter sauce and stir to combine. Whisk together the cornstarch and water in a separate bowl and add to the butter sauce. Stir to combine and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove bay leaves and discard.
  5. Serve hot with basmati rice, naan, raita, and lime wedges.
*This makes a large entree so make sure to use an extra-large skillet or something large enough to hold the entire recipe. I use a Dutch oven and suggest that if you have one. You will also need another skillet, though not as large, to cook the chicken. *I serve this with raita, an Indian condiment that can also include fresh mint or cilantro – so feel free to add fresh herbs if you have those on hand.