Red Dahl, Preserved Lemon, Sweet Potatoes & Thai Basil.


The red Dahl preserved lemon and sweet potato recipe is one of my favorite vegetarian/vegan recipes.
End of the day, mom was right, vegetables are good for you and red Dahl is extremely easy and quick to cook. I love those little pulses. They are high in fiber, full of good protein, low in calories, basically fat-free, cheap, substantial, versatile, and delicious. How much more can you ask of a legume.

We all know that vegetables can help you lose weight and fend off chronic diseases.

Yet, if you are like most people you probably still aren’t eating enough of them. Over the last few years, I learned a lot about healthier eating and the benefits of adding nutritional vegetables to a diet. If someone would have told me years ago that a bowl of red Dahl would be my dinner, I would have laughed at them. Lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition. They are rich in potassium, to help maintain healthy blood pressure, and are particularly rich in dietary fiber, lean protein, folate, and iron.

Red Dahl

Ethnic food

Every time I go to my favorite middle Eastern store in Chicago, the Middle East Grocery & Bakery located in Andersonville at Clark and Foster Avenue, I come home inspired to cook Middle Eastern food.  Andersonville is actually an old Swedish neighborhood on the Northside of Chicago, a melting pot of ethnic foods from Swedish, Persian, Syrian, America, Italian to Southern. Despite complex ingredients and sometimes labor-intensive cooking methods, the expectation for ethnic restaurants in Chicago is that the food needs to be very reasonably priced and at the same time very tasty and authentic. A lot to ask for most family-run restaurants. The Middle East Grocery & Bakery is Syrian-owned and meets all the expectations of ethnic food with flying colors and more. I love their hand pies, they are the best, the spinach cheese and their chicken Shawafel sandwich is the best

Red Dahl

I stop there all the time to purchase spices and today I found barberries that will sooner or later find their way into one of my recipes. I like this place for its simplicity and awesome flavors. Their baba ghanoush is great, the hummus is even better and is one of the best I’ve had.
The garlicky tahini sauce they put on the chicken Shawafel sandwich is a killer, to get that recipe I need to start building a relationship with the Chef. After having their lentil soup, I needed to cook a batch of red Dahl, inspired by the Good Food Magazine.

Red Dahl

There are probably 100 different ways to cook Dahl. I really like that there is no need for pre-soaking, they cook much quicker than other dried legumes. Depending on the variety and age, cooking time may take anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.

Red Dahl

Using preserved lemons was more of a last minute thought, replacing the more traditional fresh lemon that is usually served with Dahl. I have been preserving my lemons for the last 6 months. Red Dahl readily absorbs the wonderful flavors from other foods and seasonings, so it’s not necessary to cook the Dahl with preserved lemon, the recipe works great without them.
Top it with a good quality plain Greek-style yogurt serve with brown rice or Naan bread and you will have a great meal.

Red Dahl

Red Dahl, Preserved Lemon, Sweet Potatoes & Thai Basil.

Chef Norbert
I love those little pulses. They are high in fiber, full of good protein, low in calories, basically fat-free, cheap, substantial, versatile, and delicious. How much more can you ask of a legume.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Better for you, Main Course, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Servings 8
Calories 154 kcal


  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger, ground peeled and finely minced
  • 1 each Fresno chili pepper chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp turmeric ground
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin, ground ground
  • 2 sweet potatoes peeled cut into even wedges
  • 10 ounces red dahl
  • 1/4 lemon preserved
  • 3 cups spinach fresh
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Thai Basil


Brown onions

  • In a Dutch oven heat sesame oil over medium heat. Add the diced onions, spread them out evenly using a wooden spoon or a spatula. Cook onions slowly for about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir onions every few minutes to get a lightly browned even color and to release that sweet natural flavor hidden in the onions.
    1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 onion

Add lentils, sweet potatoes, spices, etc

  • At medium heat, add the chopped garlic, minced ginger, chopped fresh Fresno peppers, and spices, stir and cook for a few additional seconds, to release the flavor of the spices and to infuse the lentils as they cook. Add sweet potato wedges, add the vegetable stock and the lentils, bring everything to a quick boil and reduce heat to a simmer.
    1 garlic, 1 tbsp ginger, ground, 1 each Fresno chili pepper, 1 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 1/2 tsp cumin, ground, 2 sweet potatoes, 10 ounces red dahl, 4 cups vegetable stock

Cook Lentils

  • Rinse the preserved lemon under cold water to remove all the salt, chop roughly and add to the lentils. Cover and simmer lentils over medium heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked and the sweet potatoes are tender, but still firm. Beware, Dahl's cook much quicker than other dried legumes, you want to cook the Dahl until they are soft and thick and collapsed into a rough purée. Fold fresh spinach into the Dahl, and wilt the spinach.
    1/4 lemon, 3 cups spinach fresh


  • Garnish the "Almost Authentic Red Dahl" with Thai Basil, sliced Fresno peppers, and serve with brown rice or Naan bread.
    1 cup Thai Basil


Serving: 10ounce | Calories: 154kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 482mg | Potassium: 432mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 2g

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate

Keyword Better for you, Quick & Easy, Quick Meal, Red Dahl, Vegetable, Winter
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Join the Conversation

  1. What do you mean by one each garlic clove and onion?

    1. Norbert Author says:

      one piece or section of a fresh head of garlic and one medium onion

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