Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lentil and Kale Dal + a Video!

Lentils are what we make for dinner if I have not planned ahead of time to soak beans or buy ingredients for a meal. Lentils are inexpensive and cook quickly without the need for soaking. However, if you are gluten-sensitive or celiac, there is one thing you need to know about lentils. They are often cross-contaminated with gluten grains. We made a short video in our kitchen to show you. Hope you enjoy!

Gluten Cross-Contamination in Lentils from Whole Life Nutrition on Vimeo.

We have found that the contamination is not happening in the bulk bins, it happens before the lentils arrive to the co-op. The best thing to do is to sort through them and pick out the gluten grains then rinse them thoroughly and proceed with the recipe. One of those grains in a pot of soup can adversely affect someone with gluten issues for weeks or more. You can either remove the grains or remove lentils from your diet to avoid possible cross-contamination.

Lentil and Kale Dal

I add kale to everything because we love it, and we grow it in our backyard green garden. Of course, you could add spinach, chard, broccoli leaves, or any other green you have on hand. You can also add diced zucchini, diced carrots, and whatever vegetables you like to this. I like to keep it simple, this way I can prepare it in 10 minutes or less then walk away from it while it is simmering on the stove. Serve this with a dollop of Spicy Peach Chutney and cooked Sticky Brown Rice.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/2 cups French lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
4 cups chopped kale
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
handful cilantro, chopped

Heat a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Then add the onions and sauté for 6 to 7 minutes. Then add the ginger and spices; sauté a minute more. Then add the lentils and water; cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Add the kale and the salt, stir, and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes to cook the kale and reduce the liquid. Continue cooking if you like your dal thicker. Turn off heat and add the cilantro. Serve over rice or quinoa.

Yield: 6 servings

Note: I like to add 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne for my taste but two of our children find this too spicy. They prefer it when I add 1/8 teaspoon or less.  Source:

More Main Dish Recipes:
Summer Vegetable Kitcheree
Collard Wraps
Chipotle Chicken Stuffed Squash

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. That looks delicious...I'll need to go pick some kale from the allotment but am definitely going to give this a go for tomorrow evening. Thanks for sharing :)

  2. I am always happy so see the simple recipes you come up with, they are always classic hits! Will have to try this one! Just found I'm low on iron, so time to bulk up on lentils etc in addition to supplements.

    I want to ask - you mentioned a few posts ago that Tom made coconut yogurt. I have been trying to make dairy free yogurts at home at I keep failing. What do you use for a starter? Do you have any trial and error discoveries you are willing to share? I would really appreciate it! Thanks.

  3. Thank you for this beautiful recipe. Just yesterday our oldest said how she adores lentils, I will have to surprise her with this.
    Peace and Raw Health,

  4. Oh my word!!! I just dumped some of our lentils on a white plate....found four grains instantly. I am so discouraged!! My little boys and I have been eating those, and we are celiac. One more food out of our diet..... On those days when we are not well, and I cannot figure out why, I never would have dumped my lentils on a plate and sifted through them. Thank you so much!! This website, your book - they are amazing resources for us. Thank you.


  5. This is great! How to find safe beans and lentils has been a topic I have had on my mind for awhile. It is nice to see Tom here explaining it all. I thought I was the only person noticing these problems. Definitely the canned beans we tried were causing brain fog for both my son and I. We took them out of the diet for a year and retested them only to find the same reaction. Now my son is really loving split peas, so I am going to check them more closely. I really didn't know what the "grains" looked like so this is very helpful. Thanks so much!

  6. I love lentils and have spent a lot of time picking through them and discarding the occasional grain, rock and other assorted debris. Great project for the kids! I rinse them well and have had no problems. But I'm careful. I think so much of that stuff is contaminated. Even things like coconut sugar. Love the looks of this recipe!

  7. Yay! I look forward to more informative videos :)

  8. I find this interesting...

    When ever I get ready to grind my whole wheat berries I find lentils in them!!!...

    There is a cross contamination that goes both find grains in your lentils and I find lentils in my grains....

    Just thought I would share:)

    Great site...Thanks for the recipes...I will surely be making those soon....
    We have a little on who has many issues with wheat but has yet to be diagnosed with celiac....

  9. You're right, lentils are oft cross-contaminated. I can often find a dozen of grains in a cup of lentils (that I bought in a sealed bag). And if you don't pick them out before you cook the lentils, you can't see them anymore...

  10. Hi again,
    My husband did a little searching and found out that lentils are a rotation crop for wheat. There you go! I am glad to know, even though I am kicking myself for not checking into this on my own. It is making me look harder at things now. Thanks!

  11. Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing. Great info too about the lentils.

    Be Well,

  12. Just want to point out that 'Dal' and 'Lentil' are the same. Dal is the generic word for all types of lentils.

    Dal is also used to describe a preparation - which is usually a soupier consistency.

  13. I made this tonight, followed the recipe exactly except that I used purple kale. Yet another great recipe from your kitchen!

  14. Thanks so much for sharing that video. I love lentils and cook them several different ways. Sometimes they make me ill but most of the time I don't have any issues with then. Now I know why, I guess for now I'll have to be more diligent about sorting and rinsing. Hopefully I'll be able to continue eating them. Great recipe btw, I'm learning to like kale and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare them.

  15. I buy my lentils in sealed bags, either the store brand from Hy-Vee, or from our local international store. I've rarely had any rocks or anything, and never any grains. Occasionally, I get a different type of bean, like a black bean in my navy beans, or a green split pea in my yellow ones.

  16. Thanks for posting this. Cant wait to try it. My kids are frightened of lentils and other wholesome things so I am hoping more exposure and lots of encouragement can break them of it.
    If I am possible celiac do I have to avoid lentils to be on the safe side? I am going to take the test. I already am gluten free due to Hashimotos (but not strict enough about cross contamination and I just developed GERD) and my boy with autism has allergies to both wheat and gluten though not severe. Are lentils out for us unless they are in a wheat free facility?

  17. Thank you so much for posting this! I had no idea that lentils were often cross-contaminated. I bought lentils three times this month, twice in bags from stores and once from a bulk store, and all three batches were contaminated with other grains. I'll pick through and rince my dry lentils from now on, and won't buy the canned ones any more.

  18. Finally made this tonight and it was a huge hit! Used beet greens instead of kale and added about 2 cups diced carrots with the lentils. Delicious. Thank you so much!

  19. This was *SO* good, and made lots for leftovers! I added 3 chopped carrots, a head of chopped cauliflower, and a block of pressed, extra-firm tofu cut into small squares. Also added 2 c. water & about a teaspoon extra garam masala to accomodate the above. Cooked rice in veggie stock, and all was YUMMY! Thanks so much for another excellent recipe!

  20. Delish! Made this tonight & couldn't stop eating it. I added some fresh cauliflower, carrot and frozen peas...and extra helpings of the spices.

    Thanks for posting!

  21. This recipe was great and easy to make.

    I recommend eating it with the spicy peach chutney (highlighted in this post). I for one need variety in a dish, so the sweet and spicy taste of the peaches worked well.


  22. Yesterday I once again made a big pot of your lentil and kale dal and realized maybe I should finally leave a comment. I've been using this recipe now for years (not long after it came out) and I love it. We eat it over fluffy hot jasmine rice and always include the 1/4 tsp cayenne (I could probably even up it) and a wee bit o' extra salt. I think I add extra kale too because I stopped measuring years ago and just add two bunches (or a whole bag, if it's not in bunches). I make it when I feel like I've been eating too much meat or when I've been spending too much on food, but still want to eat well or when I'm just in the mood. It never stays out of my rotation long. It goes great with spicy Indian pickled mango too. Mmm! Thank you for the great recipe!


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