Sabi’s (Freaking Awesome) Gluten-Free Vegan Yellow Daal

by Rebecca A. Watson on August 11, 2013

in comfort, food, Germany, life, recipes

While Sante and I were on the East Coast, we visited New York City. One of the great perks was that my cousin was there for a month, so we got to see her too. Since we were meeting for dinner and she’s been in the city for awhile, I asked her to pick the place.

Apparently she and her man have been vegan since the beginning of the year, so she chose a most excellent restaurant, Blossom. Everything here, from the miso mushroom risotto to the quinoa spaghetti (mint in pesto sauce is amazing) to the cheesecake, was frickin’ delicious.

vegan cafe blossom food

Moving to Germany, I haven’t really had a full kitchen and finding ingredients has been tough, but tonight I triumphed and made an Indian dish, yellow daal. Since my 32nd birthday, I’ve been trying to eat more vegetarian/vegan meals (among other things). I’m not claiming to be as good as Blossom’s chefs, but I’ve gotta share the recipe.

I can’t take credit for this one. My dear friend Hannah shared it with me, and she got it from Sabi, her good friend in the U.K. It’s one of Sante’s favorite dishes, and when we ate it tonight, I felt like I was home. And since this is my new home, I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.

Sabi’s (Freaking Awesome) Yellow Daal

2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

I never knew how to cook rice until Sante showed me. So here’s the lowdown: Put on some upbeat music. (I’m digging pop from Sweden right now.) Combine all the above ingredients. Bring everything to a boil. Cover and lower heat to very low, keeping the water simmering.

Set the timer for 45 minutes and LEAVE IT ALONE! This is the hard part for me because I’m an overattentive mother in the kitchen and with my plants. Just let it go. Plus you’ve got other things to cook, so enjoy the break.

After 45 minutes, taste a few grains at the top. If it’s done, rejoice, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff it. If it’s not finished, check to see if there’s still some water in the bottom. If not, add hot (boiling if possible) water and keep it simmering for another 5-10 minutes.

Next, make the good stuff that goes on top of the rice.

1.5 cups red lentils (Wash thoroughly before cooking! These can be very dirty.)
1 to 2 serrano peppers, sliced in half
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Combine all ingredients into a large saucepan. Stir it with a flair. It’s got some fire to it! Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, adding some more water if you need to. Meanwhile cook the onion masala.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic,  minced
1/2 inch ginger, grated or finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tomato,  chopped
2 tablespoons water
Handful of cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (If you can’t find this, you can make it here.)

Put oil in a frying pan and toss in the onions and salt. Saute them until they’re soft. Wipe the tears from your eyes. FYI, stick your head in the freezer (if it’s big enough); it will clear those watery eyes right up.

Add the ginger and garlic and cook until golden brown. Toss in the coriander and stir constantly. That stuff’ll burn! After 30 seconds, add the tomato and the water. Cook until the water separates from the oil and evaporates.

Add this onion mixture to the lentils and cook them together for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add garam masala and the chopped cilantro and salt to taste. Serve over the rice and enjoy!

yellow daal

I got a lot of really great comments and emails from you all with encouragement after my sad-ish post last week. I really appreciate that.

One of you told me that culture shock had a lot to do with losing things that gave a person her identity. There are several things that give me my identity and cooking is a big one. I feel great after making this meal and I hope you will too!

Do you have a favorite vegan recipe/meal? Please share it with me in the comments. I’m always looking to try new things!

Did you like this recipe? Don’t forget to check out my recipe page for several delicious gluten-free, dairy-free treats, dinners and snacks! 

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Olivia August 15, 2013 at 4:45 pm

Wow… I never knew sticking your head in the freezer helps with the tears 🙂 Thanks for the tip. I’ve never made an indian dish, but I had some amazing indian soup from the organics section of my grocery store last week. I’m a horrible cook, I need to try harder. I try to keep things simple and raw, makes it easy for me.


Ms. Becca August 15, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Yeah, the freezer thing a friend told me about and I thought it was nonsense until I tried it! As far as being a “horrible cook” I think it is all about giving yourself permission to make a meal that isn’t perfect and delicious. Also, start small. Maybe just try making an appetizer or a dessert instead of a huge meal. The more confidence you have, the better your food tastes 😀


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