There are two dishes I love 1) Baba ganoush and 2) Red lentil dal. One is from the Eastern Mediterranean while the other is from India.
I figured, why not mix them together to create a smoky eggplant red lentil soup?!
Preparing the eggplants can be done two ways: on a gas burner or in the oven. My preference goes to the first method, cooking the eggplants directly over the open flame brings a deep smoky flavor you don’t get by baking in an oven. But since I know many of you don’t have access to a gas burner or grill, I’m also sharing the recipe to prepare the eggplants in the oven. It’s not as smoky but still delicious!
The gas burner method consists of grilling the eggplants until they become charred, almost burnt on the outside. The smoke will penetrate the flesh and bring a ton of flavor.
Once your eggplants are charred, you let them cool before peeling them. It’s okay if there is still a piece of skin here and there, you won’t taste it. Once this is done you can mash them using a fork until you get a purée, or if you are lazy just purée in a food processor.
For the dal, I went with red lentils. They cook very quickly, about 20 minutes, and become very soft and creamy as opposed to green or brown lentils.
Before cooking the lentil, you make a tadka. It’s an Indian technique where garlic, ginger, and spices are fried in some oil to release their flavors. Then add the lentils, eggplant purée, and water and cook 20-25 minutes uncovered. The eggplant purée will infuse the red lentils with a nice smoky flavor.
This dal is smoky, flavorsome, and super creamy. Plus it’s healthy and loaded with protein. Each serving packs 16g of protein for less than 300 calories!
Let me know in the comments if you try this recipe!
- 2 large eggplants
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground chili
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3 cups water
- for topping: dairy-free yogurt or coconut cream
- Start by preparing the eggplant. Wash the eggplants and prick them several times with a thin knife, this step is essential to let the smoke pass through the flesh. Heat two gas burners to medium-high heat. Place the eggplants directly over the open flame, cook for 5-6 minutes. Turn the eggplants using spoons, or gloves (be careful not to burn yourself), and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Continue cooking, turning occasionally until the eggplants look burnt, the skin should appear dry and cracked, and the flesh should be very soft (see photos). This step took me about 25 minutes.
- Transfer the charred eggplants to a baking dish and cover with foil. Let cool 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Peel the eggplants and discard the black skin, it’s okay if there are still a few pieces of skin here and there.
- Place the eggplant flesh in a food processor and process until you get a purée. Alternatively, you can use a fork to mash the eggplant flesh. Set the eggplant purée aside.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onions are soft. Add salt, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, smoked paprika, chili, and turmeric. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Add tomato paste, red lentils, water, and eggplant purée to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let simmer for about 25 minutes, or until lentils are cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Serve over a bed of rice, quinoa, or with naan. Before serving, you can stir in a tablespoon of coconut cream, or dairy-free yogurt, and top with fresh basil.
If you don’t have a gas burner, preheat oven to 400°F. Place the eggplants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 45 minutes. Turn on the grill and bake for another 7-10 minutes, or until the eggplants are shrunken and look almost burnt. Then, follow step 2.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 291
- Sugar: 12.2g
- Fat: 4.6g
- Carbohydrates: 50.1g
- Fiber: 22.7g
- Protein: 16.2g