Warming Dal for a Winter Day

spice house dal recipe

What’s better on a cold winter’s day than a hot bowl of soup for dinner? Not a whole lot, except maybe a bowl of hot dal. There are many variations of this creamy lentil dish throughout India, with each region having their own recipes and methods. The recipe below is somewhat of a mish-mash of a few recipes, accounting for what I had on hand. This dish is great with basmati rice or a hearty naan, roti or other bread.

This recipe makes enough for 4 or 2 with some leftovers.



2 cups yellow or green lentils (or a combination of both). Soak these overnight. If you don’t have time, soak for an hour or two while you prepare the other ingredients.

3-4 large carrots, diced into small pieces

1 large yellow onion, diced into small pieces

2 tablespoons of freshly grated ginger

3 cloves garlic, diced into small pieces

2-3 tablespoons hot curry powder, to taste (or swap out sweet curry powder if you don’t want too much heat)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne (heat-averse people should skip this ingredient)

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon salt

5 cups water

1 avocado (optional – not a traditional ingredient)


Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, ginger and some salt. Stir for a few minutes, until the onion becomes translucent. Add all the spices and stir occasionally for the next 5 minutes to bring out their flavor. Drain the lentils from their water and add them and the carrots and the rest of the salt to the pot. Add the water. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Let the dal simmer for the next hour and ten minute to hour and a half. If the water is gone after an hour and ten minutes and you have a nice, thick consistency, try a spoonful and decide if the carrots and lentils are soft enough to be eaten. If they’re not, add another half cup of water and let simmer for another 20 minutes.

Although it’s in no way traditional, I love putting a sliced avocado on top of my dal. I also use making dal as an excuse to buy some Indian beer – Kingfisher is my favorite.

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.


Healthy Banana Nutella Cookies

Most of us have been faced with the dilemma of dealing with a few rapidly ripening bananas and understand the tension between not wanting to waste good food while also not wanting to put overly soft, brown bananas on top of our morning cereal. After my partner and I both purchased a full bunch of bananas on the same day, I found myself staring down at half a dozen soft, spotted pieces of the yellow fruit and debating what I would bake to use them up. Bananas are wonderfully versatile in baking, as their soft consistency doesn’t create the worry of getting the fruit soft enough to be enjoyable (like apples), but aren’t so juicy that one must compensate for the extra liquid by adding other ingredients (like with blueberries). I quickly found a recipe for banana cookies in my recipe tin, copied down during the year of so I spent building out this tin’s collection as a college student. Since I had just purchased some hazelnut paste (basically unsweetened Nutella), I decided to incorporate it into the recipe. I added the claim of “healthy” to this recipe after modifying the original to include less sugar and more banana, as well as more oats. I find that with a little experimentation, one can always decrease the amount of sugar and increase the amount of redeeming ingredients, and luckily, I got it right on my first try with these cookies.


Healthy Banana Nutella Cookies


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Made in Wisconsin: Black Garlic

In the world of spices, brand new products don’t come along very often. That’s why we at The Spice House were so excited when black garlic started gaining popularity around 2010.

Black Garlic BulbThough there are some conflicting stories, most people agree that black garlic was invented between 2004 and 2009, based on a Korean technique for preserving garlic. Though it was originally billed as a health supplement, the delicious flavor of black garlic has made it popular as a gourmet ingredient around the world. Continue reading

Healthy Dinner for Two, Kale and Soy Glazed Shiitake Sushi

The trendy superfood, Kale, served as a romantic Japanese inspired dinner for two.

The trendy superfood, Kale, served as a romantic Japanese inspired dinner for two.

I have long enjoyed a lesser-known kind of sushi called battera, it is rarely seen in the States, even at the most traditional of sushi restaurants.  This sushi is comprised of sushi rice, densely pressed into a square wooden form. A layer of rice is pressed down, and then a layer of Japanese mint leaves are placed on top. This is followed with a second layer of rice, pressed, then a layer of salty mackerel and finally topped with sweet pickled kelp. The whole lot is pressed one last time and then cut into rectangular pieces, approximately one inch wide by three inches long. This sushi is  to be eaten in two bites, unlike most maki or nigiri. Each bite of battera fills ones mouth with sweet sticky rice, expanding as one chews. The salty mackerel dances in a sea of rice, perfectly complimented by the sharp mint. I’ve used this experience as an inspiration for the following recipe, featuring soy-glazed shiitake and blanched kale.  Continue reading

Parchment Baked Salmon with Ayurvedic Spices

Parchment Baked Salmon

Healthy and aromatic, parchment baked salmon

The pungent mixture of curative spices, served as delectable fine dining.

Throughout history, many herbalists, doctors, and chefs have touted the health benefits of spices in the kitchen. Nearly every individual spice and herb we carry has at some point been used as a holistic remedy. Cultures the world over have long turned to the healing properties of spices to ease pains, fight deseases, and slow aging. Even now, every few months we hear about a new study proving the long known health benefits of a particular spice. Here, at the Spice House, we are far from doctors or herbalist healers, we are but humble spice merchants. It is from this perspective that I've noticed that there is one thing that isn't always mentioned in these modern medical studies of spices or holistic herbalist books. Cooking with spices isn't just healthy, it is also delicious. Continue reading