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Yellow/Orange Foods: Yellow Lentil Dahl

Updated: May 6, 2021

Yellow and orange foods are rich in beta-carotene. Beta carotene has anti-oxidant properties which protect against damage due to oxidative stress to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In the liver, beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A which is essential for good immune function, healthy skin, mucus membrane support, eye health and vision.

Turmeric is a bright yellow culinary Indian spice with medicinal properties that have been known throughout Asia for thousands of years. It is a tuberous rhizome from the same family as ginger and galangal. The addition of turmeric in cooking helps to retain beta carotene in yellow, orange and dark green vegetables which may otherwise be lost or reduced through the cooking process. The medicinal properties of turmeric are attributed to the phytonutrient curcumin. Curcumin gives turmeric its vibrant colour and distinct flavour and has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties. In order to gain maximum health benefits, turmeric should be consumed with black pepper to improve absorption.

Yellow Lentil Dahl:

Dahl refers to lentils, peas or other legumes (pulses) that have been dried, hulled and split. In this recipe we use split red lentils to make a tasty, protein-packed vegetarian curry. Turmeric, ginger and garlic give it warming flavours and also provide immune boosting, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory health benefits. Dahl is the perfect comfort food for a cosy dinner on a chilly autumn night.

Image by Kate Kosaya


· 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil or ghee

· 1 large onion diced finely

· 1 tbsp ground turmeric or 1-2 tsp fresh grated turmeric

· 4 garlic cloves minced

· 2 tbsp ginger grated or 1 tbsp dried ground ginger

· 1 tsp cumin seeds (ground)

· 2 tsp coriander seeds (ground)

· 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes (optional)

· 1.5 cups split red lentils

· 3-4 cups vegetable stock

· salt and ground black pepper to taste


1. Add the oil to a large pan over low-medium heat.

2. Add onions, garlic, ginger and allow to sweat over low-medium  heat. Do not allow them to brown.

3. Add spices and stir until fragrant

4. Add lentils and stir through the spices

5. Add 2 cups of stock

6. Season with salt and pepper.

7. Bring to a simmer and reduce to low.

8. Cook with the lid slightly open for 20 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom and burning.

9. If the lentils have absorbed the liquid add in more stock. You want this thick but still have plenty of liquid.

10. Once the lentils are cooked through and soft, check the seasoning, see if you can add a little more pepper, and remove from heat.

11.  Enjoy with basmati rice, brown rice or brown basmati rice.

Dahl is a really versatile dish. This is a base recipe that can be enjoyed as it is, topped with some finely sliced spring onions, fresh chilli or coriander and even a dollop of natural yogurt. Add some dried chilli to the spices if you like things a bit spicier. For a beta carotene boost you can also throw in some spinach leaves toward the end, some cubed sweet potato when you add the stock or else add in some leftover roasted vegetables at the end. Dahl also makes a great accompaniment served alongside a lamb or chicken curry.

(Credit for this week’s recipe goes to my sister, who taught me how to make dahl when I first moved out of home.)

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