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Rainbow Chard Lentil Dal

Having lived in Saskatchewan for fourteen years before moving to Vancouver Island, I've watched the humble and uber-healthy Canadian Lentil go from being an under-used pulse crop to a rising star appearing on top restaurant's menus and re-popularizing classic international lentil recipes that showcase how tasty this legume can be.

There's no way I like lentils better than in a hearty Indian Dal using Canadian Red Lentils, easy to make and always flavourful, healthy and filling. As I'm on a mission this year to make Rainbow Swiss Chard the 'Kale' Comeback Veggie of 2014, I created the following recipe to showcase both the lentils and this beautiful and under-appreciated leafy green.

Rainbow Swiss Chard is used in two different ways in this recipe, with the stems cooked right in the dal itself for extra flavour and texture. The leafy greens are sauteed with butter and a splash of vinegar, then served on top of the dal, bringing a burst of colour to what can sometimes be a bit of a drab-looking dish, making it both pleasing to the eye and the palate.

Notes on ingredients: Save salt until the end of cooking, salting lentils too early affects cooking and could make your lentils stay hard. This recipe is naturally gluten-free and can be made completely vegetarian and dairy-free by using vegetable stock and olive oil in place of chicken stock and butter. Visit for more info about cooking lentils here.


Rainbow Chard Lentil Dal

Serves four


3 cups Canadian Red Lentils, rinsed

4 large stalks of Rainbow Swiss Chard, assorted colours

5 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes (398 ml/14oz can)

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

1 inch fresh ginger

1 tablespoon butter + 1 tsp

splash of red wine vingar

1 tablespoon garam marsala indian spice mix (what's in Garam Masala)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes (omit if you don't like heat)

1 teaspoon black pepper

salt to taste

basmati rice

Begin by prepping your chard, cutting the stems off from the leaves, chopping both separately into bite-sized pieces, then set aside. Fine chop the onion, garlic and ginger (fine grate the ginger with a zester for a less pungent flavour). Saute in a large pot with 1 tbs butter over medium heat until cooked through. Add the garam masala, cumin and black pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes while stirring to release the spices' flavour.

Add the red lentils, chard stems, stock and tomato sauce and bring to a boil, then turn down to a low simmer and cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring occasionally (add a little extra stock if needed during cooking). This is a good time to get a pot of brown or white basmati rice cooking to serve alongside the dal.

The dal is fully cooked when smooth and thick with all lentils softened and melting together. Now is when you salt to taste.

Heat 1 teaspoon of butter in a frying and add the saute the chopped chard leaves on medium low heat until just wilted. Towards the end of cooking, add a splash of red wine vinegar and toss into the cooked leaves.

Serve the dal and chard together with rice.


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