This satisfying Indian soup is delicious, super healthy, and very easy on the planet. It makes a great side dish, and if you serve it with a salad and rice or naan, it can be the main dish.
Beans and lentils have an especially low carbon footprint when compared to other high protein foods, partly because they are plants, and partly because their roots support microbes that can draw nitrogen from the atmosphere and change it to a form that is usable by plants! This saves a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, because making nitrogen–rich fertilizer requires a great deal of energy.
Once you get into the routine of making it, this soup is actually quite quick to whip up. You’ll see many of the ingredients are listed as optional, so don’t be afraid to try this even without the particular spices. Red lentils taste great cooked up with just salt and garlic, so you really can’t go wrong!
Variation: Instead of the tomatoes and onions, you can add a cup of chopped cauliflower and a chopped carrot. You can also leave out the garlic and ginger.
Carbon footprint info:
Each of the 8 servings has 212 calories and results in just 71 g CO2-eq. Compare this to a beef chili, which for a serving with the same calories results in a massive 3,024 g CO2-eq. Switching just one meal one time from the beef chili to the dahl saves the amount of gas required to drive 13 miles in a 40 MPG car (per serving)! This really adds up—if every day you made a similar shift for one meal per day for a year, you would save the gas used to drive the same car 4,850 miles!
And while the protein in the dahl is somewhat less than in the beef chili (14 g versus 25 g), the iron is actually higher in the dahl (4.1 mg versus 2.7 mg), as are the fiber (15 g versus 1 g), vitamin A (850 mg versus 9 mg), and calcium (41 versus 28 mg).
The credit for this recipe goes to Nisha and Anand Patel, two of the very best chefs I have ever met!