Five Lentil Stew, Panch Dal for a Doll

In yoga today, the guru asked us to breathe in and out a dedication to a person in our lives who is like a fresh breath of air. This beautiful blonde, Lindsey Willis Hays, immediately came to my mind. We met in the nerd society at SPU (GO UScholars!) and shared a dorm floor together (GO Blue Flamers!). Lindsey is part of the reason I have stopped being picky about food. Lindsey also is the reason I am at Mayo Medical School. She lived in Rochester during her dietetics internship, we were on the phone together while I happened to be filling out the general application for medical schools. “Hey Rachel, did you know Mayo has a medical school?” “No, but I’m putting it down…now! [click]” The future pivots in mysterious ways. Now Lindsey joins me in the middle of the country—she and her husband Andrew are heroically moving their lives to South Dakota to work in education and health for the Rosebud Indian Reservation. We just got back from visiting them, spending the Fourth of July in Sioux Falls, SD. Lindsey, I think you’re just a dal. This one’s for you.

 linds and me

Five Lentil Stew, or Panch Dal

Adapted from Flatbreads and Flavors

¼ cup channa dal  (If you are like, what the heck are these dals? Just add 1 ¼ cup lentils)

¼ cup urad dal

¼ cup masur dal

¼ cup toovar dal

¼ cup mung dal

5 cups water

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil; or ghee (which is clarified butter)

1 large onions, chopped; finely

1 tablespoongarlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon garam masala

2 large   Tomatoes; chopped

1 teaspoon salt; or more to taste

Rinse dals (ahem, lentils). Bring water to boil in large pot. Add dals, stir, and bring back to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 2 hours.

Add turmeric and cayenne to dal and bring water to boil. Reduce heat slightly and simmer until dal is tender, approximately 35 minutes.


10-15 minutes before dal is ready, begin cooking spice mixture. Heat oil in heavy skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and garlic and fry 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cumin and garam masala and cook another minute. Add tomatoes and salt and cook until tomatoes have been reduced, approximately 10 minutes.

 lentil stew

Add onion mixture to dal and stir well. Cook 2-3 minutes more to blend flavors. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning. Serve hot in one large bowl or in individual-sized bowls with chapatti or central Asian naan. 

lentils on wheat lentil on flatbread

Lindsey….it’s green. Can you believe how far I’ve come? And for the rest of you, let me say here first that South Dakota is, surprisingly, cool. We visited a couple hot spots in Sioux Falls. I highly recommend the microbrews from Monk’s and Prairie Berry (pictured below). And the night life at Icon was hot. It’s been far too long since I listened to bustiered, spray-tanned women yell across the bathroom stalls how to snag a man.

“Oh my gawwd, Tiffany. Like. Don’t you text him ‘Sweet dreams’ like every night?”

“Shut up. Meredith, like, are you serious? No. I just send him Snap Chats.”

“Girr-rahl, I’m so riiaaght. Thinkaboutit. He needs to think about you when he’s in bed.”

“Maybe this is why my last three boyfriends dumped me. Mmm’ my gawd-dah. You think? Like what else should I be texting?” 

 And the rest is not appropriate for my Rated PG blog. Never in a million years did I expect to be blushing inside the privacy of my own stall in a Sioux Falls nightclub bathroom. I would have been less surprised to see a buffalo. 

south dakota prairie berry south dakota prairie berry1

One thought on “Five Lentil Stew, Panch Dal for a Doll

  1. So happy you and Lindsey got to have a reunion,and that you and KP got to see just how cool the Dakotas can be! Ha, you mean you didn’t have ladies like the ones in that SD bar back in Portland? 😉 Of course the food you’ve made here looks absolutely delightful too, and I had the joy of eating dal many a time in India. This blog post is going in my saved recipe file for sure! P.S. Stunning shirt! 🙂

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