Healing Red Lentil Dal

The first spoonful of red lentil dal goes into our mouths and immediately all the muscles in our face and shoulders relax.

There’s a dreamy “wow that’s good” look on everyone’s faces as we settle into our bowls that hold this delicious, precious treasure.

Yes, it’s dal night! 


  • 1 pound red lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch collard/kale leaves, or 2 zucchini, or any other green veggies, chopped


Rinse red lentils several times with cold water until water runs clear, then drain. In a medium pot, mix rinsed lentils with 6 cups of water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until lentils are soft. Occasionally scoop any foam off the top of the water as it cooks. Turn off heat once lentils are cooked, and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, all the spices, and coconut sugar. Cook and stir well for 2-3 minutes so it doesn’t burn.

Add the cooked lentils and lentil cooking water to the onions and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and crushed tomatoes and cook for 5-10 more minutes. Taste and adjust salt or spices if necessary.

Stir in the chopped greens, cook just until tender, then remove from heat, or simmer until you’re ready to eat. Serve as is or with brown rice. This dal is excellent as leftovers the next day!


I recently asked meditation teacher Susan Woods about the practice of lovingkindess, or metta, meditation, where you bring to mind people that are difficult in your life and imagine that they too want to be happy, and well, and at ease.

Her guidance was that at times, we are all difficult people to someone else.

That’s part of being human, and if we can sit and breathe with our own limitations and shame around things we’ve done in the past, then maybe we can find just a little bit of space in our minds to ease the suffering we feel when we think about difficult people.

We’re all messy, wonderful humans.

And with diligent daily practice, we can achieve the stability of mind to accept ourselves and appreciate how amazing it is to be alive, no matter what chaos is going on around or inside us.

I’m thinking (with great tenderness and self-compassion!) about who might find me to be a difficult person, and what I might do to soften some of my hard-won edges.

Chef Maitri Carmichael brings a creative and peaceful energy to every plate. She grew up in Toronto with a British Grandma and an Italian Nonna who showed their love through food, then she moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for 15 years, spending her free time at community farms and zen kitchens. Originally a scientist and biotech entrepreneur, she graduated from the Vegan Chef School in London (2021) and the Raw Food Culinary Academy in Vancouver (2023), and is now settled in Hawaii.

5 responses to “Healing Red Lentil Dal”

  1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    The best thing to make if you’re feeling under the weather!

  2. maitricookswithlove Avatar

    Instagram comment from Priya: Looks delicious 😋 🔥

    1. maitricookswithlove Avatar

      Thank you, that means so much! 😀

  3. maitricooksnewlife Avatar

    Instagram comment from Becky: wow yum!

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