When you are the sole person responsible for cleaning the bloody exudate(s) coming from your boyfriend’s post-deviated-septum-surgery nose… {Especially when someone is exceptionally demanding about just how frequently he’d like his gauze changed, no matter how dirty it actually is. cough*everytwohours*cough}

And ensuring that he takes just enough (not too many) Percosets to keep him the fine line between drowsy-happy and drowsy-comatose…

And reassuring him every five minutes, that no he is not dying and no he will most certainly not be in pain forever pinkyswearpromisewithacherryontop…


…you will all of a sudden understand why his mother bought you a box of chocolate and five Hershey’s bars as “good luck presents” before she left the two of you on Friday.

{And really, let’s not even discuss how many of those are left.Β  I think we all know it’s a frightfully small number.}

Truly, it’s a good thing you love him so much.


But now it’s Monday, which is truly as good a time as any to atone for our milk chocolate sins, especially now that nose leakage has reached a standstill and we are officially beginning the Percoset-weaning process.

Comfort food is most certainly still in order, however, and, at least for me, this dalΒ  Full of warming spices, it tastes like a big hug and is exactly the kind of thing you crave on a frigid winter day when your boyfriend is still sort-of convinced that you are a dirty tissue repository.Β  Sigh. The things we do for love.


One year ago…Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Two years ago…Roasted Chicken with Salsa Verde, Whipped Parsnips and Cauliflower with Goat Cheese, Red Velvet Black and White Cookies
Three years ago…Orzotto with Leeks and Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Snickerdoodles
Four years ago…Sausage and Peppers Pizza, Pasta with Turkey Sausage and Broccoli Rabe and Balsamic-Roasted Asparagus

Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions
Red lentil dal is a traditional Indian comfort food that gets added texture and flavor here from smoky charred onions.
Yield: 4 servings
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, cut into ¼-inch thick slices
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 small dried hot red chile pepper
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 14 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  1. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp oil to the pan and swirl it to coat. Add onion to the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until charred. Carefully turn over the onion and cook 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Coarsely chop and set aside.
  2. Combine the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook for 1½ minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat. Place these seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, and the chile in a spice or coffee grinder and pulse until ground.
  3. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tsp oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the ginger and garlic to the pot and saute 1 minute. Stir in the spice mixture and saute 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the broth, lentils, and tomatoes to the pan. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and add onion. Cook 10 minutes more. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ of recipe


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90 Responses to Red Lentil Dal with Charred Onions

  1. Heh. If a recipe still looks really good even after the words “bloody exudate”… it must be a really, really, REALLY good recipe. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait to make it.

  2. Foodycat says:

    That sounds amazing. I’ve pinned it!

  3. Yummy! Your dish looks amazing and so comforting!!

  4. What a great looking comfort dish! I hope the boy is feeling better very soon!

  5. I’m not sure how well I would do (or how long I would last) with changing bandages (squeamish!), but I could happily whip up some comfort food like this. Red lentils are in my top five of favorite comfort foods!

  6. SallyBR says:

    I wish the Lucky Boy a speedy recovery… Phil had a serious knee surgery last March, and I can tell you, nothing, absolutely nothing beats being 100% healthy. It is amazing how we take for granted doing the normal things of day to day life.

    Lovely recipe, but maybe you should profit from the Percoset still in his system, and get some kale going πŸ˜‰

  7. Christina says:

    Looks great, I pinned and can’t wait to try it… even after hearing Tissue Repository. πŸ™‚

  8. awww, how romantic πŸ˜‰ This looks warm and cozy which is what I need since I am STILL without heat. I am carrying a space heater into every room I go in. So.Ridiculous. On a side note, my aunt is having that surgery tomorrow.

  9. Lynn says:

    If it tastes like a big hug, then I want to try it. πŸ™‚

  10. marie says:

    I love this recipe. I am a huge fan of lentils and onions. My mom eats onions raw. I don’t go that far but I always seem to double the onions in recipes πŸ™‚

  11. Danielle says:

    This sounds great – looks like I might be making lentils again!

  12. Sarah says:

    looks great! i’ve never made dal before, but this version looks do-able. πŸ™‚

  13. What a delicious way to atone for all that chocolate! Lentils make the best meals, especially when paired with all those wonderful spices.

  14. Ashley says:

    This looks absolutely wonderful and pretty easy to make. I think it’s going on the menu for this week! Hope the.boy is feeling better soon…he totally owes you for taking such good care of him while he’s recovering!

  15. Pam says:

    The things we do for love is right… sigh. You are a good woman Joanne & he better appreciate you! The dal looks hearty and comforting – I especially love the charred onions in there.

  16. Lora says:

    You had me at charred onions. Wow. My husband is also on the mend after surgery, weaning himself off the percoset. This is perfect comfort food to speed up the healing process. Hope The Boy is back to business soon.

  17. Chris says:

    Wow, that is loaded with seasoning, isn’t it!?

    I don’t know what “bloody exudate” is but I’m about to have lunch so I’m not about to google it:)

  18. Oh yeah! Dal!! Bring it on! It totally counteracts the chocolate. πŸ™‚

  19. Ashlee says:

    This looks so warm and hearty and healthy, definitely on the menu for next week!

  20. Laura says:

    I love lentils…always looking for a new recipe to add some twist and spice to them. This recipe looks super tasty and family approved!

  21. LOL Joanne! His mom leaving you the chocolates and wishing you good luck – I just spit out my coffee!

  22. This looks an awful lot like a meal I pay $9 for at a local Indian restraunt, excited to save some money!

  23. You are singing my song again Joanne :). Your site is rapidly becoming my go-to dinner site these days. I have been dropping a few rss feed read blogs that are no longer in my peripheral ethos but yours keeps getting more and more valuable to me and I enjoy your posts more, these days, than I did before. Cheers for the excellent site and this scrumptious recipe… “caramelisation Dahling…CARAMELISATION!” The head chef who was teaching we mere plebians who dared to learn to “cook” when I asked about black bits in something…”it’s NOT burned…it…is…CARAMELISED!”… all delivered with a heavy sigh (what a numpty I am πŸ˜‰ ). I shall be “caramelising” my onions significantly to accompany the gorgeous earthy taste and rustic tongue texture of the red lentils and I might or might not shamelessly tell my omni husband “you won’t like these babe, they are lentils!” (just so that I can eat them all myself πŸ˜‰ ). I love your recipes girl, you are a star πŸ™‚

  24. Sara says:

    This dal looks amazing! I have recently gotten more into cooking lentils, and I’m always looking for new, yummy recipes! πŸ™‚

  25. Yes to letils! This looks so delicious, Joanne.

  26. Good thing you are in Med school – that boy sure is lucky! I have been biking a lot lately which makes me want to eat a lot of corn and grains. This looks delish!

  27. london bakes says:

    This is my ultimate comfort food. I hope the boy is feeling better soon (and you get a break from being on nurse duty!)

  28. What an awesome girlfriend you are!! Not only are you changing bloody bandages, but you’re whipping up meals like this one! This looks so delicious!


  29. Geni says:

    I don’t envy you. Lucky for him you are a med student. I would have passed out and deposited him at his mother’s house with 4 chocolate bars left.;) This dal is perfect comfort food.

  30. Nina says:

    This is a perfect comfort food. I make them often with loads of tomatoes. Looks tempting:)

  31. I love your blog, and have made a few of your recipes before! Just wanted to comment and say that your commentary on this one was hilarious! Lots of well wishes for the boyfriend and patience and good karma for you! πŸ™‚

  32. Guru Uru says:

    I would eat lentils all day if this was the recipe πŸ™‚

    Choc Chip Uru

  33. charred onions are in my opinion one of the best ways to eat them. Brings out so much flavor and I love a good crispy onion- battered or not:) this looks delicious

  34. Was your boyfriend able to eat in his condition? I love how unsentimental you are in your description, even while you nursed him back to health–a true science student! (He is very lucky to be in such good hands for his rehab!)

  35. Beth says:

    He is so lucky to have you looking after him! Seriously, it sounds like a pretty miserable surgery, and I hope you’re both doing all right.

  36. My love of dal is profound. This is a super recipe for me to come across today!

    Also, good luck to you both! I hope he is on the mend!

  37. Eileen says:

    Oh, surgery is definitely no fun, especially if you generally breathe through the bit that went under the knife. Glad to hear the boy is on the upswing, and that you had plenty of supplies to help you make it through too. πŸ™‚ This dal sounds really great–onions and spice and lime, hooray!

  38. tigerfish says:

    The warmth and spice of this creamy dal is just so comforting!

  39. Betty says:

    Red lentils are my favorite, and this is making me hungry as long as I don’t think about the other stuff. Ewwwww! So glad he’s getting better! πŸ™‚

  40. OohLookBel says:

    Your boyfriend is lucky to have you look after him. Lovely lentils, they sound absolutely delicious.

  41. Amy says:

    Ack. That sounds like a lovely surgery…although it can’t be much worse than the one my sister just had, where they removed tissue from the roof of her mouth and transfered it to her gums (did I already tell you this story?)…and she’s still swollen, in pain, and living off of pudding, 3 weeks later. Oh, and did I mention that the drugs they gave her BEFORE the procedure were so strong, that she threw up ALL OVER HERSELF. And the chair. And the nurse. Lovely.

    But anyway! The.Boy. is so lucky to have you make lentil soup for him. Whether he realizes it or not! I’d take a bowl, for sure.

  42. I love dishes that are both comforting and healthy. This looks delicious! And I hope your boyfriend feels better soon!

  43. Whoa. You are the best girlfriend ever!! I loooove this recipe though – totally comforting!

  44. Gloria says:

    I love lentils Joanne and this look delicious!!

  45. ahhh, you are a great girlfriend! and this recipe is packed with all of my favorites. Comfort food at its best.

  46. Karis says:

    This is perfect, I’ve been looking for a recipe to use some red lentils that have been in my cupboard for longer than I want to think about. Nose surgery sounds like such a painful experience…for both of you. Happy to hear that your boyfriend is starting to feel better!

  47. Blond Duck says:

    I’ve always wanted to try red lentils! I’m glad he’s feeling better!

  48. Dining Alone says:

    I have a bag of red lentils in my pantry, I need to try this. Men are the worst when they are not feeling well πŸ™‚

  49. That Girl says:

    You know, if you stopped punching your boyfriend in the face, you might not have to play nursemaid as often πŸ˜‰

  50. teresa says:

    aw, but you’re still so sweet to take such good care of him! this post made me smile, men are so tough, until they’re sick πŸ™‚

    this looks delicious, so hearty and flavorful, just the thing for this frigid weather!

  51. Elizabeth says:

    “milk chocolate sins”
    guilty! πŸ™‚

  52. Kari says:

    It sounds like a difficult weekend all around! Did you even get any of those pain killers for your own relief? I guess this will go a long way to soothing things regardless πŸ™‚

  53. bellini says:

    A dish like this will bring you comfort surgery or no surgery.

  54. EWWWWwwww. If it wasn’t for the gorgeous photos, I’m not sure I could have read this one. haha! Your dal looks amazing! And good for you for helping your poor dying (or so he thought) boyfriend out in his time of need. <3

  55. Hotly Spiced says:

    I think I would need some comfort food as well as drugs if I had that kind of surgery. I’ve had a lot of nasal issues and it can be really unpleasant. I’m sure with the TLC he’s receiving he’ll be in full recovery mode in no time xx

  56. Johanna GGG says:

    wow that is love – chocolate is little return for such saintly endeavours – and the dal sounds like great reward

  57. Katerina says:

    My dear Joanne welcome to the world of steady relationships/marriage/engagement! First of all let me tell you that when it comes to illnesses, men are even worse than babies. They need to be pampered every second of the day and they believe that only they suffer so much. Second I am afraid that you will always be the one who will do the dirty job so please get used to it lol! I did! His mother will only bring you chocolates and this is the good scenario lol! I think the lentils must have been very soothing and made you forget for just a little while all this!

  58. Jessie says:

    Isn’t it amazing how even the toughest man crumbles at the prospect of pain or discomfort (and that’s not to mention ACTUALLY experiencing it … ). There’s nothing like being a dirty tissue repository to make you appreciate health πŸ˜‰ And that’s hilarious about the boy’s mom bringing over chocolate – she just knew!

    This lentil dal looks like the perfect comfort food, especially for these cold winter days we’ve been having. Enjoy your week, Joanne!

  59. The boyfriend’s mom is a smart woman, I would do many many things for some chocolate:-) You are an excellent girlfriend!

  60. Natalie G says:

    MMMMM can I make this right now? Such a warm and comforting dish, I will be making this really soon πŸ™‚

  61. I have all of these ingredients in the house and therefore need to make this pronto!!! I loooove lentils!

  62. Dal is the ultimate in healthy comfort food in our house. I love the charred onion addition too make it your own. I’ll have to try that!
    I ate far too much chocolate this weekend and didn’t have someone’s bloody nose to blame for it. Maybe it was a cosmic chocolate weekend…that’s what I’m sticking too anyway.

  63. Karen says:

    I’d have taken the chocolate and run πŸ™‚ This really does look like a comforting meal… hope he’s feeling better.

  64. Emily says:

    The dal looks fantastic! You are one good girlfriend! I hope your bf is feeling better.

  65. Ashley Bee says:

    I’ve always wanted to make Dal! And Naan, so maybe I’ll do both together someday soon, hehe.

  66. Debbie says:

    This is a welcome sight….it looks sooo delicious. Trying not to eat meat anymore. This is rough when you are so used to it. I thank God for sites like yours that make meatless dishes so good..

  67. YUM! This looks delicious Joanne. Sure hope your man is feeling better soon – men are such big babies!

  68. Jenn Kendall says:

    hope he is feeling better! i’ve never made a dal but now i’m totally dying to try!

  69. Candace says:

    You had me with “charred onions”. This looks amazing. Hope your sweetie is feeling better!

  70. I love lentils and the charred onions sounds like icing on the cake. You know I smile every time I open your blog. The header picture with Forsythia reminds me of my childhood – so pretty!

  71. every 2 hours?
    no wonder his mother is giving you chocolate
    remind him this isn’t beverly hills

  72. Hannah says:

    I haven’t even had to endure any nose-related trauma, and yet I still feel every word you’re saying about comfort food. Man oh man, does this ever look good, in the most soul-satisfying way. All of those spices sound pitch-perfect. Plus, as it just so happen, I have about 2 pounds of red lentils taking up valuable real estate in my pantry. Problem solved!

  73. Monet says:

    Hi sweet girl. It has been TOO long since I’ve dropped in for a visit. Between moving and pregnancy, my brain has been elsewhere. I’m so glad I’m back. This looks just delicious. Pure comfort. Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I just ate a delicious dinner and I’m already hungry again πŸ™‚ I hope you are having a great start to your week!

  74. Joyti says:

    Awww, you’re the BEST girlfriend. I’d probably be much less patient.
    The dal looks tasty. I DO think that well-bronzed onions are necessary for a tasty dal, but love the use of broth and olive oil instead of the traditional water and clarified butter – healthier and tastier!

  75. Natalie says:

    omg i think ryan needs to have that same surgery! will you come take care of him?!

  76. Men seem to ‘suffer’ more and for longer. I’ve had rhinoplasty and I can assure him there are more painful things in life πŸ˜‰

  77. Cathleen says:

    Wow! What a great girlfriend! I think i need some comfort food too, will you save some for me??

  78. Just made this tonight…delicious!

  79. Hope the Boy is feeling better! He is so lucky to have someone like you taking care of him, and especially feeding him!

  80. Awwww, how sweet…it must be love ;). And holeecow does this look like something I need in my life. Like soon.

  81. glad the surgery went well! how sweet of his mom to think of you before he went under πŸ˜‰ lol, this dish looks wonderful!

  82. Abby says:

    ahh cumin seed is my favvvorite! this is so warming and comforting, I can see why you made it. Hope he continues to have a speedy recovery.

  83. Reeni Pisano says:

    This is a big bowl of healthy delicious comfort if I ever saw one! I don’t know if my squeamish self could handle what you did – bribing me with chocolate might help! Hope he’s feeling better!

  84. I have been wanting to experiment more with spices, and I think this may be a recipe I would love to do just that!

  85. Laura says:

    In all fairness to your boyfriend… my lord that surgery was painful. πŸ™‚

    I LOVE this soup. It looks wonderful!

  86. Hope the boy is feeling better! And this dish here just screams comfort! It’s hitting close to 80 today but I’m still making this!

  87. Katie says:

    Awww, I hope he’s feeling better. How lucky he had you there to take care of him. This would have cheered me up for sure!

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