Golden Cauliflower Dal with Spinach, Red Lentils and Coconut, a gently spiced Indian stew that is warming and comforting. 

Cauliflower Dal with Coconut and Spinach made with split red lentils and fragrant Indian spices. A healthy comforting, plant-based dinner recipe. Vegan-adaptable. #dal #cauliflower #dalrecipe #lentils Ring out the old, ring in the new,  Ring, happy bells, across the snow:  The year is going, let him go;  Ring out the false, ring in the true. ~ Tennyson

A whole head of cauliflower meets red split lentils in this simple healthy Golden Cauliflower Dal recipe. A delicious, wholesome plant-based meal that comes together quickly and easily in about 35 minutes on the stovetop.

What is dal?

Dal, in essence, is a fragrant Indian stew made of split lentils, or other split pulses like mung beans, chickpeas, or peas. Highly nutritious, dal is healthy Indian comfort food- nourishing, flavorful, full of plant-based protein and fiber. A staple in Indian cuisine with many variations.

This version is packed with extra nutrients from the addition of fresh cauliflower and spinach. Scoop it up with freshly baked naan bread or serve it with basmati rice, either way, you’ll love the soothing flavors.

Golden Cauliflower Dal | 60-sec Video! 


 

Cauliflower Dal with Coconut and Spinach made with split red lentils and fragrant Indian spices. A healthy comforting, plant-based dinner recipe. Vegan-adaptable. #dal #cauliflower #dalrecipe #lentils

It starts with gathering simple pantry ingredients: split lentils, coconut milk and whole spices.

cauliflower dal ingredeints

You’ll need one cup of red split lentils.

split lentils for dal

The first thing to be done to ensure success is to soak the lentils in 2 cups boiling water while you prep the rest of the ingredients. This will allow the lentils to cook faster, and in time with the cauliflower. This is key.

soak the split lentils in boiling water.

Gather your whole spices: cumin seed, black mustard, coriander and fennel seeds.

whole spices in dal

Lightly crush the coriander, just to break apart.

crushing the coriander seed

Heat the ghee. ***Of course, you can substitute coconut oil, but ghee is traditional and truly does add the best flavor.

heat the ghee

Cook the whole spices for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.

sauce the spices

Add the shallot, garlic and ginger, and cook until fragrant and golden.

Add a couple of chilies if you like for a subtle heat.

add the shallot, garlic and ginger,

To give this beautiful golden color, add curry powder and turmeric.

spices

Add the lentils and the water they are soaking in, and fenugreek.

add the fenugreek

Give a good stir.

add chilies if you like

Stir in the coconut milk and cauliflower florets and give another good stir.

Cover and let simmer 10 minutes, or until the lentils and cauliflower are tender.

add the cauliflower

Uncover and cook off some of the liquid, and add a few handfuls of baby spinach.

add the spinach.

One little thing I like to do is double the whole spices and ghee, and remove half ( before making the dal)  then spoon it over top of the finished dish, using this as the tempering oil.

It adds more flavor but is not imperative.

Cauliflower Dal with Coconut and Spinach made with split red lentils and fragrant Indian spices. A healthy comforting, plant-based dinner recipe. Vegan-adaptable. #dal #cauliflower #dalrecipe #lentils

Sprinkle with cilantro or scallions and serve.

Golden Cauliflower Dal with Coconut and Spinach made with split red lentils and fragrant Indian spices. A healthy comforting, plant-based dinner recipe. Vegan-adaptable. #dal #cauliflower #dalrecipe #lentils

Serve the Cauliflower Dal with naan bread, or rice, or on its own in a bowl, like a stew.

Have a wonderful New Years Eve,

Sylvia

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Golden Cauliflower Dal with Spinach and Coconut

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: vegan, vegetarian
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Cauliflower Dal with Coconut and Spinach made with split red lentils and fragrant Indian spices. A healthy comforting, plant-based dinner recipe. Vegan-adaptable. (Inspired by Minimalist Baker)


Ingredients

Units Scale

Instructions

  1. Cover the split lentils with 2 cups boiling water, set aside.
  2. In an extra-large saute pan or Dutch oven, heat the ghee over medium heat, add the crushed coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and stir for one minute.
  3. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger and optional chilies, and saute until fragrant and golden, lowering the heat to med-low, if need be, about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and turmeric. Stir in the lentils along with the 2 cups of hot water. Add the salt and fenugreek. Give a good stir.
  4. Add the coconut milk and stir to incorporate, then add the cauliflower florets, coating them well. Give the pan a shake to allow any lentils to slip back into the liquid. Increase heat, bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer gently over med-low heat, until lentils are softened and cauliflower is fork-tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and let some of the liquid cook off, about 3-4 more minutes. Carefully stir in spinach.  Taste, adjust seasonings. Add a squeeze of lemon if you like.
  6. Garnish with cilantro or scallions and if you made the extra tempering oil ( see notes), spoon this over top before serving.
  7. Serve with naan bread or basmati rice, or on its own in a bowl like a stew.

Notes

***For extra flavor (as is, this is “gently” spiced) create a tempering oil. Double the ghee and double the whole seeds. After sauteing the seeds in the oil or ghee, spoon half of this into a small bowl and set aside -to drizzle over the finished dish (this is the “tempering oil”) super tasty!

Timing: If your lentils seem extra-large, or your cauliflower florets seem extra small, cook the lentils a few minutes before adding the cauliflower, so the cauliflower doesn’t get overcooked. ****I used tiny lentils and extra-large florets.

You could also, roast off the cauliflower separately (toss with oil, salt and pepper at 400F until tender) and stir into the cooked lentils.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 448
  • Sugar: 5.7 g
  • Sodium: 668.8 mg
  • Fat: 23.1 g
  • Saturated Fat: 18.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 49.3 g
  • Fiber: 11.1 g
  • Protein: 18.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 7.6 mg

Keywords: dal recipe, Lentil Dal recipe, curried cauliflower recipe, vegan dal, cauliflower dal, cauliflower lentil recipe

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  1. If you live at high altitude (we live at 8800) the split red lentils need to be par-boiled until almost tender…not set aside sitting in the 2 cups of boiling water as recommended.

    I had to add another 45 minutes to cooking time for the meal because the lentils were not done. I did use split red lentils as called for in the recipe. I’m thankful I roasted the cauliflower tossed in EVOO & Berbere seasoning while the curry sauce was prepared. If I had added the cauliflower in with the soaking lentils as recommended, we would have had very mushy cauliflower.

    I waited until lentils were cooked before adding roasted cauliflower. In the meantime I made the Easy Naan…and kept it warm in the oven while the lentils finished cooking.

    It’s so very very rare that that I need to adjust a Feasting at Home recipe.

    In the end…fabulous flavors! Will make again…with lots of adjustments for living in the Colorado Mountains.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the flavors Leslie. And I’m glad you were able to make this work. I wonder if your split lentils were larger than normal? The challenging thing is that they come in all sizes! Mine are quite small but I’ve seen much bigger ones. 🙂

    2. The split red lentils were pretty small. I think the high altitude was the biggest factor. Water boils at 212 F at sea level. At 8500 feet it boils at 196 degrees F. I think the water just wasn’t hot enough to do it’s job sitting, rather than cooking. ; )

      And it was so easy to roast the cauliflower while preparing the curry.

      My husband loved the curry with the naan! In fact, Feasting at Home is my go to for recipes.

      Thank You!

  2. Hi…
    Can I use canned garbanzo beans? How would that change the directions?

    Thank you,
    Stephanie

    1. Hi Stephanie- do you mean instead of the lentils? If so, I would follow steps 2 and 3, then add the chickpeas (drained, rinsed) with the cauliflower. If it seems too thick you could add some water, but might not need it?

    1. Hi, Sorry, I have not tried this in an Instant Pot- so would be totally guessing here. 😉

  3. love this recipe!! Easy to make and is a family favourite. Love the creaminess of the coconut.

  4. This has become a go-to dish for me. I love lots of different dals and this is at the top of my list now.

    One question: it looks like you don’t rinse the lentils before soaking them in the boiling water – is that right and if so why do you choose not to rinse them?

    Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

    1. Hi AnnMarie- glad the recipe is working for you! Feel free to rinse the lentils first, I guess I just don’t because I feel the like they are being rinsed in the boiling water, which is then drained. Just saving a step. 🙂 But do as you like!

  5. This was easy and delicious! used veg stock instead of water but think it would be great either way as spices were perfect.

  6. 4 out of 5 – we felt it had too much coconut milk, which overpowered the aromatic spices, and would have preferred instead a more flavorful broth with a hint of coconut. If making again, would try with one-quarter to one-half the amount of coconut milk called for, and maybe use some vegetable broth instead of just hot water to soften the lentils.

  7. I just made this for our lunch, as I had all of the ingredients, except Fenugreek leaves, and wanted to give it a try. It is one of the best things I’ve ever had – will definitely share the recipe and will keep it on hand for future use. Although we didn’t have rice or naan, I could see doing that in future. I’m going to bring a bowl of it to a friend who’s not feeling well, as it makes quite a bit and is easy to share.

  8. Just had this for lunch…sooo good!!! I did add more water and forgot to crush the coriander🥺…but we both loved it. Would ground coriander work,too?

  9. This was really delicious. A mild, smooth curry, yet full of flavour. I just love fenugreek leaves, so it’s great to have another unique dish to feature them in.

    1. Thanks Carrie- glad you liked this and yes, the fenugreek really elevates the dish!

  10. I really love all of your indian recipes! I’ve tried random ones from different blogs in the past, but yours are the only consistently great recipes I’ve found. Do you have any indian cookbooks, or vegetarian cookbooks you’d recommend? I went looking to see if you’d published a book but I didn’t see anything on your site. Let me know, and thank you!

    1. Hi Emily, no cookbook yet! Have you looked up Vegan Richa- she has some Indian cookbooks you may like?

    1. I am struggling to think of a good substitute here. Yogurt would be too tangy, nut milk- maybe not quite rich enough? Are you trying to go dairy-free?

  11. It has become our favorite food for chilly evenings. I roast my Cauliflower with garlic salt pepper and turmeric.Keeps the florets crunchy.

  12. Absolutely perfect! I used red onion in place of shallots. Grabbed some jalapeños and Malabar spinach from my garden to throw in. This recipe will for sure be part of the rotation. Thank you!

  13. Delicious! Love the little pops of flavour from the toasted spices. I doubled the amount of spices and used kale as that’s what I had. Thank you!

  14. This was delicious even cutting the full fat coconut milk and ghee in half. I put melted ghee on top of my husband’s and that was a big hit. Your recipes never fail to delight!

  15. This is a really good mild curry. It would be a good one to introduce people to Indian flavors without overpowering them! I used the full amount of spice (i.e. double) but didn’t take out half for the tempering oil, I just left it all in the pot. I roasted the cauliflower and added it after the dahl was cooked. I forgot to add the spritz of lemon at the end and I think it really would have added a little freshness to it. Regardless, my whole family loved it. Oh and I used the yellow curry mix I found via the link, since all I had in my pantry was hot yellow curry. I imagine that would be good in this recipe too, but I wanted to keep it mild. Another great recipe!

  16. Fantastic recipe. My husband who usually turns up his nose at anything without meat absolutely loved it. I did need to simmer for slightly longer to get my cauliflower tender but all the flavours were spot on.

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Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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