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Paddy's Dal

Stop Food Waste Blog

Paddy's Dal

Oct 18, 2023

Stop Food Waste Blog

Dal is Paddy’s favorite comfort food, a practical yet satisfying plant-based and protein-rich dish, made with pantry staples with opportunities to use up any vegetables you might have on hand. 

A long-time Food Shift partner and ally, Paddy Iyer founded Daily Bowl, which recovers food that would otherwise go to waste and redistributes it to agencies serving southern Alameda County’s neighbors in need. Whenever you see Paddy, you will find him outfitted in a safety vest and a smile.

“In my version of dal (the Hindi name for lentil or other legumes that doesn’t need prior soaking), I like to use whatever vegetables are around. I just throw them in—anything from  a good-sized daikon (Japanese radish) to chopped greens lingering in the fridge. Interestingly, there isn’t just one version of dal, as every family kitchen and region has its own variations in choice of vegetables and spiciness—which type of leafy green? Garlic or none? Dried or fresh spices? The versatility of the basic dal preparation partners beautifully with a no-food-waste ethic, as any leafy green can be added, and even the lentils can be replaced with other legumes or small beans. It freezes well, too. My version is topped off with chopped cilantro and fresh squeezed lemon juice for color and zing!”

Dal (Lentil Stew) Recipe
Serves 4


  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced; or ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp peeled and minced ginger; or ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 Tbsp curry powder (store bought or home-made)
  • Homemade curry powder: 1 tsp ground turmeric, 1½ tsp ground cumin, ½ tsp ground mustard, 1½ tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp ground black pepper, pinch of red chile flakes or cayenne (use this as a guide for making curry powder–if you don’t have all of these spices, that’s okay, just use what you have)
  • 4 cups liquid (vegetable broth, bouillon broth, or water)
  • 1 cup lentils (or substitute any dried legumes like split peas or mung beans), picked through to remove any debris or small pebbles and rinsed well
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • Optional: Up to 4 cups of vegetables such as chopped carrots, diced potato/sweet potato, chopped leafy greens 
  • Optional garnish: chopped cilantro and fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • For serving: serve over cooked rice, or with naan or bread


  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once warm, add oil. 
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices and cook, stirring often so the spices don’t burn, until fragrant, about 1 more minute. 
  3. Add a splash of water or broth to the pan and scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom. 
  4. If using root vegetables, add them now. Then add the lentils (or other legumes), the rest of the water or broth, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30–45 minutes. (Use the directions on the package of lentils as your guide for cooking time, different lentils take different amounts of time to cook.) If the lentils start to look dry before they are cooked, add more water or broth. 
  5. Once lentils are cooked, stir in leafy greens, if using, and let wilt. 
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings. If you’d like to garnish, top the cooked lentils with cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.

Maximizing Your Food

As Paddy said, you can use whatever you have in your fridge to make this dal. It can also be simmered with other ingredients like tomatoes and/or coconut milk in place of some of the water or broth. 

Leftovers: Store leftovers in the refrigerator for 5 days. Simply reheat the dal and eat as is, enjoy it with an egg, or wrap the dal in naan bread or a tortilla. You can also freeze dal in a freezer bag or tightly sealed container.

More stories, recipes, tips, and videos from Food Shift:

Food is often rooted in story. In this monthly blog series, Food Shift, one of our Chef Partners, is amplifying the voices of their culinary training graduates and their community by sharing their stories and adaptable recipes. Stay tuned for more installments.

Portrait Artwork By: Sophia Zaleski

Learn more about Food Shift and their programs to rescue surplus food to fuel their social enterprise kitchen rather than waste away in landfills.