HomedaalVegan Handi Lentils (Creamy Indian Dal)

Vegan Handi Lentils (Creamy Indian Dal)

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Lovers of lentil Dals and curries will be all over this recipe for Handi Lentils. Brown lentils in a rich and fragrant spiced onion bell pepper tomato yogurt sauce! Serve with rice or naan. Naturally Gluten free & Nut-free version included. No onion option.

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Lovers of creamy and flavorful lentils – you HAVE to try this recipe for Handi Lentils! Handi dishes are super flavorful curries that are traditionally cooked in a clay pot (handi) over hours. This adds an earthy smoky flavor to the dish. Any pot works to cook and I use a saucepan to cook the lentils.

Handi dishes also have characteristic spice and sauce. Panch phoron (Indian Bengali 5 spice) or spices such as cumin, nigella and fenugreek seeds, are paired with garam masala or other spices in an onion bell pepper tomato sauce. You can make your own 5 spice mix and use whichever lentils you like to make this Handi Dal.

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Handi cooking usually involves making a flavor packed spiced sauce base which is then mixed with various proteins like lentils, meat, chicken etc. Here, we use brown lentils which taste amazing with the sauce.

The spices used give it the characteristic Handi flavor. Bengali spice blend called panch phoron:  a mix of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and nigella seeds , which get toasted really well to add amazing flavor! Use whichever of these spices you have. See recipe notes for substitutes.

The tempered spices cook with caramelized onion,  bell pepper, tomato and non dairy yogurt or cashew cream which adds creamy base that goes perfectly with the cooked lentils!

The longer you simmer the sauce, the stronger the flavor. As with all dishes that use whole spices, these handi lentils will taste phenomenal if given a couple of hours after cooking and it will taste even better the next day.

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For options to make this without nuts, oil or onion, see recipe notes.

why you will love this dal

  • It’s got layers of flavor from whole spices
  • it uses easily available brown lentils
  • use any whole spices you have. But do try with the listed spices sometime
  • it’s allergy friendly, Glutenfree, Soyfree, Nutfree (depending on your non dairy yogurt )

MORE INDIAN Main DISHES TO TRY:

More Indian Dals to try

Print Recipe

5 from 9 votes

Handi Lentils Creamy Indian Dal

Handi Lentils. Brown lentils in a rich and fragrant spiced onion bell pepper tomato yogurt sauce! Serve with rice or naan. Naturally Gluten free – Nut-free version included. Oilfree and Onion-free options This Handi Dal will taste phenomenally after resting a couple of hours or next day.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brown lentil curry, vegan handi curry
Servings: 4
Calories: 171kcal
Author: Vegan Richa

Ingredients

Lentils:

  • 1/2 cup (100 g) brown lentils (Sabut Masoor) dry uncooked , or use green or other lentils
  • 2 cups (473.18 ml) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 green chili chopped serrano or Indian Chile for hot, or use 1 tablespoon chopped mild green chili
  • 1 cup (133 g) root vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato, parsnip, or a mix of choice

For the sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon panch phoron , Indian bengali 5 spice, see notes to make your own
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika or cayenne or Indian red chili powder
  • a good pinch of cinnamon, clove powder, and black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 cup (160 g) chopped onion
  • 1 cup (149 g) chopped bell pepper chopped small
  • 2 ounces (60 g) or 1/4 cup of tomato puree
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt or cashew cream or other non-dairy cream or use thick non dairy milk such as oat milk
  • cilantro , lemon juice, non dairy yogurt or thick non dairy milk for garnish

Instructions

  • Cook the lentils: Wash the lentils and soak for 10 minutes then drain and add to a saucepan with the water, chilies, vegetables, and salt and cook over medium heat partially covered, until the lentils are cooked to preference.

    Or pressure cook in the instant pot with 1.5 cups water for 14 minutes for brown lentils and 16 for green lentils. Let the pressure releas naturally

  • Make the sauce: Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the panch phoron and cook until the cumin seeds smell fragrant or the mustard seeds start sputtering.
  • Add in all the ground spices and fenugreek leaves and mix. Then add in the onion and a good pinch of salt and cook until the onion is translucent. Then add the peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Then add in the tomato puree and yogurt and a good pinch of salt and mix in and bring to a good simmer.
  • Then add in your cooked lentils with any remaining liquid and 1/2 cup of water. Mix well and bring to good boil. Taste and adjust salt and flavor. Adjust consistency by adding more water if needed or simmer for another 2 mins if you want it thicker.
  • Garnish with cilantro and some lemon juice and optionally drizzle some yogurt or non dairy cream. Serve with roti, Naanflatbread (regular or glutenfree) or rice.

    Store refrigerated for upto 3 days. Can be frozen for upto 2 months in an airtight container.

Notes

Make your own panch phoron:  mix 1 teaspoon each of mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, and nigella seeds and store. use 1/2 teaspoon of the mix . Use whichever spices you have. If you don’t have nigella seeds, use dried onion flakes.

  • To make this nut-free, just omit the cashew cream and use nutfree non Dairy yogurt.
  • To make this Oilfree: toast the whole spices on a dry skillet until cumin seeds change color, then immediately add 2-3 tablespoons of broth. Then add ground spices and bring to a boil, add onion and continue with the recipe. 
  • To make this without Onion: substitute the onion with peeled and thinly sliced zucchini. recipe is garlic free. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Handi Lentils Creamy Indian Dal
Amount Per Serving
Calories 171 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 372mg16%
Potassium 562mg16%
Carbohydrates 30g10%
Fiber 11g46%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 3618IU72%
Vitamin C 59mg72%
Calcium 66mg7%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Ingredients:

  • for this dish, I used brown lentils which are cooked with root veggies and green chili
  • as we cook the veggies in water, I recommend sturdy vegetables such as carrots, sweet potato or potatoes
  • whole spices are tempered in oil for that complex flavor:  panch phoron, that’s Indian bengali 5 spice ( mustard seeds , cumin seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and nigella seeds). Nigella seeds can be substituted with dried onion flakes.
  • ground spices: coriander, cumin, cardamom, smoked paprika to add some smokyness or use cayenne or Indian red chili powder.  a good pinch of cinnamon, clove powder, and black pepper to round up the flavor
  • chopped onion are caramelized to create the base of the gravy
  • bell pepper are added for color and texture
  • a mix of tomato puree and yogurt or cashew cream created a gorgeous creamy and mild gravy

Tips:

  • This handi curry will taste phenomenal if given a couple of hours after cooking and it will taste even better the next day.
  • For the panch phoron, instead of nigella seeds, you can use dried onion flakes.
  • To make this nut-free, just omit the cashew cream and use nutfree non Dairy yogurt.
  • see recipe notes for Oilfree and onion-free

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How to make Handi Lentils:

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Wash the lentils and soak for 10 minutes then drain and add to a saucepan with the water, chilies, vegetables, and salt and cook over medium heat partially covered, until the lentils are cooked to preference.

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Make the sauce: Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the panch phoron and cook until the cumin seeds smell fragrant or the mustard seeds start spattering.

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Add in all the ground spices and fenugreek leaves and mix. Then add in the onion and a good pinch of salt and cook until the onion is translucent.

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Then add the peppers and cook for a minute. Then add in the tomato puree and yogurt and mix in and bring to a good simmer.

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Then add in your cooked lentils and 1/2 cup of water. Mix well and bring to a good boil. Taste and adjust salt and flavor.

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Simmer for another minute then take off the heat. Garnish with cilantro and some lemon juice. Serve with roti, Naan, flatbread (regular or glutenfree) or rice.

Storage:

Stored in an airtight container, this curry should last for 3 days in the fridge.

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