May 4, 2015

Cauliflower, Potato, and Green Pea Daal

Let's talk about food, and what a pregnant lady with a food blog craves in the first 3 months of pregnancy. I found out that I was pregnant the first week of January, 2 weeks before I had planned ski trip with my family. There was no way to cancel though, considering my sister was flying across the country to visit, and we had already booked a chalet for the week. If it were any other circumstance, I would have happily declined because a) skiing seems dangerous for a pregnant lady b) the whole point of ski trips is to drink wine and go in the hot tub, which are both no-no's while pregnant. Up until that point though, I felt fine, which was a relief. Nothing out of the ordinary, no weird symptoms, cravings etc. I thought that I was in clear, I was so naive.

On the 6 hour drive to Big White, however, this was when the morning sickness began. At the time, I thought I had a bad case of car sickness, which was also so naive. That week at the ski resort, I typically felt nauseous until late afternoon. My niece and nephew woke me up at 6:30 am every morning, and I tried not to puke on them. I couldn't relax in the hot tub, I couldn't take my mind off how I was feeling by skiing. ps. ski trips are the worst for a pregnant lady. So, I sought comfort in food.

My sister had purchased a lot of groceries before we drove up - mostly kid friendly foods for my niece and nephew. Because I was feeling not my best, I couldn't really think of food, so of course, we came unprepared. At the resort, we went out to eat at a few restaurants, but the food was something to be desired. I'm not sure if it was on this trip, or a few weeks later, but all I wanted to eat/crave was convenience foods from my childhood and red meat. Generally my diet includes a lot of fibre - fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. During the first 3 months of pregnancy though, all of those healthy foods made me sick. (hip hip for prenatal vitamins). Things that made me feel good - steak, hot dogs, Chef Boyardee, Honey Nut Cheerios, Pop Tarts, Chicken Noodle Soup from a can, crackers, and ice cream. I ate those eight things, and only those eight things, for 3 months straight.

The thought of eating red meat, and any one of those things now, literally makes me feel nauseous (thank goodness). At around 14 weeks, I gradually started to feel better. The morning sickness went first. Then a few weeks later, I started to feel less tired. I noticed myself slowly wanting more fruits and vegetables, things that I would normally eat, and then one day, I woke up and overnight I was back to myself. I was back to my normal routines - avocado toast with fresh fruit for breakfast, healthy seedy grainy salads. It was such a relief. I literally thought I was going to want nothing but pop tarts for the rest of my life. I can't even believe that I was eating so much red meat, because it had been probably 15 years since my last steak. I'm chalking it up to what my body needed, and at the time I felt like I had no control over what I was doing or eating.

I am happy to say that now my diet is colorful and varied, and I am craving really interesting (healthyish) foods. Pad Thai, red curry, and tart frozen yogurt are three things that I crave most. But now, pretty much, all food tastes good. I am really loving experimenting with new flavors and cuisines - trying to stimulate my babies taste buds, if that's a thing. Cuisines that I am really loving are Ethiopian and Indian. There are not a whole lot of good options here in Seattle for Indian food, not like back home, so I decided to start making it at home. My first attempt was this cauliflower, potato, and green pea daal. I'm pretty fortunate that we have a lot of great grocery stores where you are able to purchase a variety of staples, although, I tried to make this dish with ingredients that are readily available even in the most rural parts.

It's not a spicy dish, but what it lacks in spice, it makes up for in flavor. It's packed full of healthy ingredients, seasoned with fragrant flavors like garam masala and turmeric. It's perfect with some rice, naan bread to dip, or just eaten on its own. I felt as though the flavors intensified over night, so if there's that option, I would suggest making it the nigh before. But don't get me wrong, it's still pretty fantastic the day of.

serves 6 - 8
notes: toor daal is an Indian split pea, they are yellow in color.  If you don't have access, substitute for yellow, green or red split peas. 

5 cups water
1 cup dry toor daal, rinsed
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp ghee or butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 cups (5 small) potatoes, chopped
2 cups cauliflower, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup frozen peas

chopped cilantro
6 servings of rice and/or naan bread

Bring 5 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add the lentils and bay leaf. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are soft, mushy, and falling apart approximately - 45 minutes.

While the lentils are simmering, in a large frying pan, heat the ghee or butter, on medium. Add the onions and fry until translucent - 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, ginger, potatoes, and cauliflower and fry until soft - 30 minutes.

Add the turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and salt to the cooked lentils (you should also still have a few cups of water left from lentils in the pot). Add the cauliflower, potatoes, and frozen peas. Add additional water if necessary (you should have around 1 1/2 cups left from the lentils), but if you were left with less water, add enough so that the sauce is creamy and pourable. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Season with extra salt or chili powder as needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro, lemon wedges, and serve with rice and/or naan bread.


  1. Anonymous04 May, 2015

    My trip to India has made me fall in love with the protean source of protein that is the ever-delicious daal. Thanks for sharing this delicious-looking recipe. I can't wait to try it!

  2. This looks wonderful! Love the cauliflower and potatoes together. Yum!

  3. this looks super tasty and deliciouuus!!

  4. Oh I had a very hard time foodwise during my pregnancy, and at a point I even lost the sense of taste and smell. My first trimester was a blur of craving for bananas and puff pastry, it was all I could eat, and my nausea lasted for the whole nine months. The last trimester was only to be endured by havig copious amounts of fish in front of me. I have never gobbled so much fish before.

  5. Glad you are feeling more like your normal self once more - woohoo! And this dish. SO crazy gorgeous!

  6. Hi Heather! This looks so much like my favourite dal that I make! Except you make it look a million times more yummy. I sometimes roast the cauliflower with cumin seeds until it gets crispy and serve it on top!

  7. i love daal in general but your version sounds wonderful.

  8. Anonymous15 May, 2015

    this looks fantastic! I cant wait to try this. I have a friend coming over who adores Indian food

  9. This is seriously making me drool! I'm definitely going to have to try!

  10. Is all the water supposed to be absorbed?

    1. Sorry, that wasn't really clear in the recipe - I went back and edited it. But to answer your question, no, not all the water is absorbed. Around a cup and a 1/2 should be left over from the lentils, and that will be used to make the sauce.

    2. Hi Heather - I'm confused about this too - so, you drain the cooked lentils in a colander once cooked, reserving the cooking water for use later, if required? Thanks :)

  11. Some great photography and a great recipe, ill be trying this out this weekend!

  12. SO delicious! Its creamy without having to add any sort of cream. Thanks for the recipe x

  13. this looks fantastic! I cant wait to try this. I have a friend coming over who adores Indian food,