simple daal recipe

Although the ingredient list is long, its super easy to make as you do about 15 minutes of preparation and initial cooking before popping everything in a slow cooker and letting the cooker do its magic. Slow cookers are inexpensive (only $15 on Amazon) and an incredibly easy and healthy way to get legumes like lentils and daal into your diet with the all important fiber they contain. And that fiber is crucial in detoxifying, gastrointestinal health as well as blood sugar stabilization.

Meanwhile, this recipe has a host of super-foods and super-spices. Sulphur containing onion and garlic help liver detoxification. And the Limonene and Hesperidin content of Oranges not only complements vitamin C’s anti-oxidant powers, these powerful phyto-nutrients help liver detoxification too.

On the spice side of life, ginger, turmeric, kalonji, cumin and cayenne all add their free-radical fighting and digestion assisting powers to make this dish an all rounder for your health, especially if it is served with brown rice. And exotic spices (like Kalonji seeds) can be bought in Indian Spice stores or on the web.


1 Cup Yellow Lentils / Chaana Daal – washed and soaked overnight

1 Onion, finely chopped

1 Tomato or 1tsp tomato paste

1 inch piece of ginger (grated or finely chopped)

1 inch piece of turmeric (grated or finely chopped) or 1 tsp turmeric powder

2/3 cloves garlic (crushed or finely chopped)

2 Thai, Serrano or Cayenne chillies, finely chopped

1 tsp Cumin Seeds

1tsp Kalonji / Nigella seeds

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

1 tsp salt

3 Cups water

2 tbs oil

1 Orange – peel outer rind, half and remove seeds, liquidise all the rest of the fruit


Heat oil over medium heat and add Cumin seeds. Cook until they change colour.

Add Kalonji and Mustard seeds. Cook until seeds begin to pop

Add onion and soften (2 to 5 mins). Add garlic and cook for further minute

Empty cooked onions, garlic and seeds into slow cooker. Add rest of ingredients and slow cook on low for 7 hours or until lentils break down

Add orange in last 30 mins of cooking, preferably at end (to preserve vitamin C content)

Serve with brown rice – to get an all round complement of amino acids and complete protein intake

Spice and other natural ingredient properties:

Chilli (Cayenne): Functional benefits:  Carotene and Vitamin C – anti-oxidants, anti-cancer. Phyto-nutrient Capsaicin – pain relief and stimulating: increases metabolic rate and the burning of fat

Cumin seedFunctional benefits: digestive aid; anti-cancer; anti-inflammatory; anti-bacterial; anti-fungal; enhances liver’s detoxification enzymes

GarlicFunctional benefits:  Sulphur rich – sulphur helps liver detoxification of stress hormones, environmental toxins, microbial products, drugs and food additives and heavy metals; helps lower blood pressure, helps lower cholesterol, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, immuno-supportive, anti-biotic

GingerFunctional benefits: Benefits digestion; Anti-oxidant; Anti-inflammatory. Phyto-nutrient: Gingerols – anti-inflammatory compounds; useful in treating arthritis

Kalonji / Nigella SeedFunctional benefits: anti-oxidant, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory. Beneficial to stomach and intestinal health; provides immune system support

Onion: Functional benefits: Atherosclerosis and heart disease – decreases total cholesterol and increases HDL cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, decreases blood lipid levels, prevents clot formation; Anti-cancer – arrests tumor growth and destroys tumor cells; Lowers blood sugar; Asthma treatment – relaxes bronchial muscles and inhibits bronchial muscle spasms; Rich in Allicin and Sulphur compounds: similar properties to Garlic; Rich in Flavonoid Quercetin: Anti-oxidant; helps reduce inflammation; promotes activity of hormones (eg insulin); treatment of allergies.

Orange: Functional benefits: Carotene content: Anti-oxidants, enhance immune functions, anti-tumor, stimulate anti-oxidant mechanisms; Citrus Bioflavonoids content: Anti-oxidant; Improves blood circulation; increases ability of key nutrients to leave capillaries and reach cells; protects against colon cancer; enhances activity of Vitamin C; high Vitamin C content benefits immune system, lens of eye, adrenal glands, reproductive organs, connective body tissues (such as joints and gums), protects against cancer, helps fight viral infections

Specific phyto-nutrients: Terpenoid Limonene – gallstone treatment, anti-cancer, enhances liver detoxification; Flavonoid Hesperidin – lowers blood cholesterol and anti-inflammatory (Hesperidin and Limone content highest in inner peel and inner white pulp)

Mustard SeedFunctional benefits: anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, digestive aid, anti-cancer

Tomatoes: Functional benefits: cancer protective and lowers risk of heart disease, cataracts and macular degeneration due to Phyto-nutrient Carotenoid Lycopene

TurmericFunctional benefits: Treats heart disease; Brain protective; Phyto-nutrient: Curcumin – anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, enhances production of liver detoxification compounds glutathione

Yellow Split Peas: Functional benefits: anti-cancer; Fiber: increases fecal bulk, increases fecal water content, decreases intestinal transit time, reduces blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improves blood sugar and glucose

Adapted from:

Bains, G. (2011). Indian Superfood. Bath, UK: Absolute Press

Murray, M. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Food. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books

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