Indian Dal with Yogurt and Cucumbers from Dana Jacobi and the AICR


In its ongoing effort to promote a healthy, cancer-preventive lifestyle, the American Institute for Cancer Research connects with renowned food blogger Dana Jacobi to offer recipes for healthy, nutritious and delicious dishes. This week's entry is an Indian dal with yogurt and cucumbers.

Dal is an Indian lentil dish that many Indians eat every day. It is considered a great source of protein. Spiced foods such as dal "help us feel cooler in hot weather," Jacobi said. "If the weather is rainy and cool, dal's spices also help drive out the chill."

This dish can be prepared and be ready in about a half hour. She adds:

To turn this dal into a meal, I top it with a mini-salad of chopped cucumber, scallions, dill and a dollop of yogurt then serve it with pita bread that has been wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven. If you prefer, you can toast the pita in wedges until crisp and also increase the yogurt to a generous quarter-cup.

All the recipes offered by the AICR have been vetted and approved by a registered dietitian (RD).

Indian Dal with Yogurt and Cucumbers

  • 3/4 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. garam masala *
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 cups hot water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped seeded cucumber
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions, green part only
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 4 Tbsp. reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 4 whole-wheat pita breads, warmed


Place lentils in large bowl. Fill bowl with cold water. Using your fingers, stir lentils 3-4 times, then drain. Repeat 2-3 times until water runs nearly clear when drained. Transfer lentils to large saucepan. Add onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin and oil. Stir to coat ingredients with oil.

Set saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until spices are fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add hot water, bring to boil, cover and simmer until lentils are soft, 20 minutes; dal will thicken as it cools. Uncover and pour dal into wide, shallow bowl. Set aside until lukewarm, 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

To serve, divide dal among 4 small soup bowls. Top each with one-fourth of cucumber, scallions and dill, plus 1 tablespoon yogurt. Cut pitas into 6 wedges. Set each bowl on dinner plate, surround with pita wedges and serve.

If desired, dal can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days. Before serving, warm in microwave or in covered pot over medium heat, stirring often.

*Note: If you do not have garam masala, use 1/2 tsp. each ground cardamom, coriander and cumin, 1/4 tsp. each ground cinnamon and black pepper and 1/8 tsp. ground cloves.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 260 calories, 5 g total fat, (0 g saturated fat), 40 g carbohydrate, 15 g protein, 8 g dietary fiber, 135 mg sodium.

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