not your typical Indian Dhal


Last March on my yoga & ayurveda retreat in New Mexico, the chef who prepared our amazing Ayurvedic meals made a cilantro, jalapeño dhal that I completely went crazy for. I prepare a fair amount of dhal, usually with standard Ayurvedic/Indian spices (cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, etc). This dhal was delicious and had such a fresh flavor, I was smitten. I wasn't able to get a recipe from her, so I went searching on my own. I found a recipe on Whole Foods Market that seemed pretty close, and low and behold, it was!

The red lentils are a great source of protein (18g per cup) and are pacifying to Pitta and Kapha. They are light and soft, and easily digestible. This recipe warms things up a bit with the addition of a little tomato and jalapeño, and is a nice early fall recipe when tomatoes are finishing their season. I have not found this recipe to aggravate vata. The cilantro keeps the recipe from being too heating.

I've adapted this recipe and it's now one of my standards. Hardly a week goes by that I don't make a batch. I often make this in my slow cooker, which has a sauté setting which I use on the onions and garlic at the beginning.

Cilantro Jalapeño Dhal


  • 2 cups red lentils (Masoor Dhal), sorted and rinsed 

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or ghee

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped 

  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped 

  • 2 chopped tomatoes, with their juice 

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds 

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom 

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 pinch hing

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt 

  • 4 cups vegetable broth or 4 cups water + 1 cube vegetable bouillon 

  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro 


  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin, cardamom, hing, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. 

  • Add lentils, broth, tomatoes, turmeric, salt and jalapeño and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low, add cilantro and cover and simmer, stirring often, until lentils are soft, about 15 minutes. 

  • Ladle into bowls over basmati rice and serve topped with fresh chopped cilantro. Enjoy!

Kara Aubin