Indian dinner night

To cap off my week of vegetarianism, I finished off with an Indian-inspired menu, shared with two of my favorite people:

  • Lentil dal
  • Tangy shredded cabbage salad
  • Cucumber scallion raita
  • Fluffy jasmine rice

My week of non-meat went very well. I already eat about 2/3 of my meals without meat, and I do feel like my body “runs cleaner” without too many animal products. I think I may ultimately go 95% pescatarian, not even eating a lot of fish due to the overfishing issues we’re currently faced with. However, I do enjoy meat, and I do like the flexibility of being able to choose my foods, so I’ll continue on in my “flexatarian” lifestyle for the time being. 🙂

At the risk of sounding very, very cocky, this was one of the best dinners I’ve ever made. Instant place in the list of menus I keep in my back pocket. The lentils were delicious and savory, pairing wonderfully on a bed of fluffy rice.

The cabbage salad was simple but delicious, with the fresh crisp of the raw cabbage providing a great contrast to the softer dal and rice.

Finally, a dollop of the yogurt added a surprising lightness to the overall meal. I wasn’t sure what to initially think about it, but am so happy I added the raita to the menu.

Tangy Shredded Cabbage Salad
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4


  • 4 cups tightly packed, shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 a head)
  • 1 small red serrano/jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
  • The juice of half a lemon (approx. 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (the original recipe only calls for 1/2 a spoonful, but I increased it to this)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds


  • In a medium bowl, toss together the cabbage, chile, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You are looking for a well-balanced, sweet and sour taste.
  • Heat the oil in a small skillet or butter warmer over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen. When seeds top popping, immediately pour the oil over the cabbage salad and toss well.
  • Let the salad sit for at least 15 minutes before serving, to allow the flavors to blossom.
  • Serve cold or at room temperature.

Lentil Dal
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen: Everyday Yellow Dal

Serves 8

  • 2 cups yellow split peas (lentils), soaked in cold water for 1 hour (I didn’t use yellow lentils and also didn’t soak them for the full hour, but they cooked up just fine)
  • 2 large tomatoes (about 8 ounces), cut into wedges (I only had one)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used ground cumin)
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 10 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • Drain the dal (split peas) and place in a large saucepan. Add the tomato and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until peas are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Pick out any tomato skins and whisk dal to emulsify it. Keep warm over very low heat.
  • Heat the oil in a medium skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the cumin seeds, covering the pan with a lid or splatter screen.
  • After the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the onion and saute over medium heat. About 3 minutes later, add the garlic and saute until most of the onion has turned dark brown, about 5 minutes altogether.
  • Add the coriander, turmeric and cayenne, stir and pour mixture over the dal. Add the cilantro, butter and salt to the dal and simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Cucumber Scallion Raita
Taken from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped English (seedless cucumber)
  • 1 thinly sliced scallion
  • 3/4 cup yogurt (I used Greek)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • Mix!

One thought on “Indian dinner night

  1. I love raita, such a good complement to curry dishes. And the cabbage salad looks excellent! Could you just use mustard instead of the seeds?

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