Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

A Jalapeno Vegetable Dal

vegetable dal

What pushes you outside of your comfort zone? For me, cooking pushes me to try new foods, techniques, and flavor combinations. Each new recipe is like a challenge that I can’t wait to tackle. Even if my attempt doesn’t end up for the best, I’ll have an idea of how to tweak the recipe to make it better the next time.

Tonight, I made jalapeno vegetable dal. This curry-spiced dish isn’t something I make all the time, but it was so hearty and delicious, I will probably think to make it more often. Now, I have something embarrassingly stupid to admit. I didn’t first try curry until about two years ago. Wait, that wasn’t the embarrassing part. The reason I hadn’t tried curry until then was because I thought I would be horribly allergic to it, as my mom gets very ill after eating foods with curry. My fiancee would always beg me to try Indian food and for the longest time I longed to, while also secretly avoiding any opportunity to. It turns out that I accidentally ate curry spiced quinoa one night while I was at a friend’s house and I was completely fine. I’ve since then pushed my boundaries to include curry spiced recipes in my cooking.

vegetable dal 2

Ingredients for jalapeno vegetable dal: 

*serves 3-4

1 medium red potato, diced

1 tbsp of red lentils, rinsed

1 tbsp of sesame oil (sub olive oil if you don’t have sesame oil)

1 red onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, diced

1 tomato, diced

1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1 tsp of curry powder

1/2 tsp of turmeric powder and sea salt

1 tsp of fresh ginger, grated or minced

2 tbsp of fresh cilantro, diced

1 scallion, diced (optional)


1- Heat a pot filled 3/4 of the way full with water over high heat. In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the water to boil, dice the potato and rinse the tablespoon of lentils.

2- When the water begins to boil add the potato and a dash of salt to the water. Lower the heat to medium-high. Let the potatoes come to a boil and then add the lentils. Let them boil until they’re tender, which should take 10-12 minutes.

3- While you’re waiting for the potatoes to become tender, heat sesame oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Chop the onion and add it to the skillet when the oil is hot.

4- Let the onion soften and stir it every so often. Meanwhile, dice the garlic, jalapeno, tomato, and ginger. Add the garlic to the pan after about 3 minutes. After another minute, add the jalapeno. Stir the onions, pepper, and garlic. After about two more minutes add the chickpeas, tomato, and spices.

5- After the potatoes are tender, drain them and add them to the pan with the chickpeas and tomato. Stir it all up and add the ginger and cilantro. Top with scallions for an added crunch!

In between the golden-hued potatoes were bits of red tomato, fresh cilantro, and red onion. In terms of flavor, the sweetness red onion in this dish was balanced out by the spiciness of the jalapenos. Tonight, I’m glad I cooked out of my comfort zone. What have you done to push yourself lately (in or out of the kitchen)?


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