Firstly, I’d like to make it abundantly clear that this FODMAP friendly daal is in no way traditional. I have tried to retain the spirit and tradition of the dish, but this is quite tricky to do with the constraints of FODMAP. So, this dish is best called not quite daal or kind of daal. It’s a cross between daal, a vegetable stew and a chunky vegetable soup. Please know that I haven’t messed with the original to make it ‘better’ – I’ve just tried to find a way to ensure people with dietary constraints can enjoy a kind of dahl, too.
Shall we start with the key differences?
The key differences between traditional daal and this FODMAP friendly daal
Firstly, this FODMAP friendly daal contains no onion or garlic. A given for FODMAP, really.
Secondly, it uses a hefty dose of grated vegetables to form the bulk of the daal. This is because lentils can be high FODMAP in large serves, particularly for people with fructose or GOS intolerances.
Finally, a can of coconut milk and plain tomatoes help bulk out the dish. One of the things I used to love about daal was eating a giant bowl of daal alone. I wanted to be able to eat a whole bowl of this, instead of having to bulk it out with mostly rice. It is very nice with rice, though.
So there you go! All the ways this is an inauthentic, untraditional daal gone rogue.
A special note on the lentils
I was initially testing this recipe with a can of brown lentils. Canned lentils are considerably more FODMAP friendly, because the fructans leech out in the canning process. Brown lentils are not remotely traditional to daal, but canned red lentils are not available. The brown lentils made a decent substitute, but I really wanted to try and stay as close to the original as possible. As such, I started experimenting with red lentils.
Un-soaked red lentils are FODMAP friendly in 25g serves per person. This daal contains 150g red lentils, so it serves 6. You can experiment with adding less lentils if you’d prefer, or more if they are not an issue for you.
I also decided to include the step of soaking the lentils the night before making the daal. Although Monash hasn’t published a conclusive study, they do say that soaking lentils overnight can help lower their overall FODMAP content. This is why I recommend that for this recipe.
Kent or Japanese pumpkin, common tomatoes and a FODMAP friendly green like spinach are all recommended to keep the FODMAP content down.
Make sure you buy plain canned tomatoes and a coconut milk without inulin, chicory or any weird additives/ thickeners. I like TCC brand and Ayam brand – both contain just coconut kernel extract and water.
The curry leaves are totally optional but very delicious. These days, they’re often at the supermarket in the fresh herb section.
Spring onion greens (not whites) are a FODMAP friendly ‘eat without limit’ food. They add a nice touch of flavour without any FODMAPs, so I highly recommend adding them.
I tried a version of this FODMAP friendly daal without the tinned tomatoes, and I actually liked it far less. There is something about the tinned tomato addition that makes the daal a little richer. It also seems to disguise the fact that you’re essentially eating vegetable soup.
Plus, they’re a more FODMAP friendly option to using regular tomatoes, in light of the Monash FODMAP update on tomatoes.
Yes! 60-100g of ginger seems like a lot, but I promise it melds away into the dish to create flavour without any spicy ginger-ness. And yes! That much cumin really is necessary to give what is basically a stew a daal like flavour. I promise it’s not overpowering.
And yes! 4 tablespoons of cumin powder seems like a lot. It is a lot! But this FODMAP friendly daal style dish serves 6-8, so the quantity is warranted.
If you’re using coriander as a garnish, add the stems to the daal. They go a long way in amping up flavour. Thoroughly wash them and trim the roots, then chop the stems finely and throw them in after the ginger and spring onion greens. An easy way to add extra flavour.
For a real dahl texture, this recipe needs a light blend once cooked. I use a stick blender so I can control how much of it is blended. If you don’t have a stick blender, you could use a real blender, although it only needs a quick whizz. If you have a Nutribullet, you’ll need to wait until it cools before blending (Nutribullets have no air hole so hot things will cause pressure which might subsequently cause a hot dahl explosion).
For more hearty vegetarian/vegan FODMAP friendly dinners:
- FODMAP friendly vegetarian moussaka with a vegan bechamel option
- Vegan, gluten free and FODMAP friendly ‘meat’ lasagne
- Enchiladas with a cheaty enchilada sauce
- Vegan laksa with zucchini noodles
- Sweet and sticky buckwheat ginger noodles
Making a Tadka
A Tadka is defined by Cooks Illustrated as an Indian cooking technique whereby spices are bloomed in hot oil or ghee to extract bold flavours. I learned about a variation, Chhonk, by watching Priya Krishna back in the Bon Appetit YouTube Heyday.
Because a tadka is best made fresh, I haven’t included a recipe. This dish serves 6 and it would be difficult to determine how many people a person is cooking this daal for at any one time. Plus, I think it’s kind of fun to riff on what you have and see what the end result is. It doesn’t need to be a static recipe; you can experiment with flavour and ideas.
I love using curry leaves, cumin seeds and cardamom seeds in a tadka. I also like to add a bit of salt and to finish with a squeeze of lemon, cooking it off a little before taking it off the heat. These are all things I enjoy, but you might like to play around and see what works for you. An important note: if you add lemon, be very very careful. It will spit vigorously as the liquid hits the oil.
I also LOVE using garlic infused oil or garlic infused ghee here. It adds such a nice finishing touch to a FODMAP friendly daal. If you need more information on how infused oil or ghee works, see the posts linked.
FODMAP friendly Daal (or not quite daal)
For the daal:
- 100-150 g red lentils soaked overnight (see notes)
- 2-3 tablespoons oil of choice I used vegetable oil
- 20 or so curry leaves reserve the remainder for the top optional
- Coriander stems washed and chopped (only if you’re garnishing with coriander, can be omitted)
- 1 bunch of spring onion greens
- 50-100 g freshly grated ginger
- 2-4 tablespoons yes, tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/2 – 1 tablespoon garam masala use less for fresher spice blends
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric you could also use fresh to taste
- Chilli flakes or powder to taste (optional)
- 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons salt I used table salt
- Fresh pepper to taste
- 1-2 cups 250-500ml water
- two medium carrots grated
- 300-400 g Japanese or Kent pumpkin grated (see notes)
- 1 X 400g tin plain chopped tomatoes
- 1 X 400g tin coconut milk check that it doesn’t contain inulin
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon to taste
- Remaining curry leaves
- 1 bunch coriander optional
- Tadka optional (see notes)
- Lactose free greek yoghurt or plant based yoghurt optional
- Rice to serve
- Thoroughly wash and rinse your lentils from the night before. Grate and chop all your ingredients and have them ready to go.
- Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a low-medium heat. Once warmed, add the curry leaves, coriander stems (if using) spring onion greens and ginger and stir to combine. Cook until softened and fragrant or for 2-3 minutes. Add a splash of water if they start to stick at any time.
- Add the spices and seasoning and stir to combine. Allow them to cook off for a minute before adding the lentils, water, grated vegetables, chopped tomatoes and coconut milk. Stir to combine, then turn the heat down to low and pop a lid on. Cook the daal, stirring occasionally, until the pumpkin is soft, around 10-15 minutes.
- Once the vegetables are soft, use an immersion blender (a soup stick) to puree the daal to a more daal like consistency. You can also use a blender, but you might need to cool the daal first (particularly if you are using a Nutribullet).
- Add the lemon juice and taste the daal. Adjust the seasoning, spices and lemon juice to suit your tastes.
- Serve with rice (or without) coriander, a bit of yoghurt and a tadka with the curry leaves, if you’re using it. See the section on tadka above for more information.