If you haven’t heard, earlier this year the United Nations declared 2016 to be International Year of Pulses.

Although this wonderful year is drawing to a close (scary, isn’t it?), there is still some time to celebrate lentils, chickpeas, dried beans and peas, before the year isup.

Pulses are edible seeds of plants in the legume family, and Canada grows a whole lot of them. If you took a road trip across the prairies this summer, chances are you drove by fields of pulse crops without even knowing it.

Our country is the world’s largest producer and exporter of lentils and dry peas, and a major supplier of pulses to more than 150 countries around the world. Nutritional powerhouses, pulses are high in fibre and protein, and help regulate blood sugar levels. In addition, they’re affordable, easy to prepare, and their versatility makes them superstars in the kitchen.

See? Lentils are pretty darn cool! Dishes like this easy dhal can be thrown together in mere minutes. One of the perks is it will also leave your house smelling amazing, with a warm breeze of exotic curry and coconut wafting from your kitchen.

A quick sauté of vegetables and spices builds the flavour base of our dish. Use a brand of curry powder that you love, as the blend can vary from package to package and affect the taste of your dhal. Tip: try to use fresh curry powder, not the stuff that’s been in your cupboard for five years.

Using coconut milk, like I did here, will add a lovely richness, especially when combined with the tomato paste. Let the dhal simmer away on the stove. After 20 minutes, the lentils will have broken down into a purée of sorts, but the texture of the vegetables will still shine through.

Serve the fragrant sauce over bowls of steamed rice, and garnish with plain yogurt, cilantro and hot sauce (if you like to spice things up even more).

I love eating dhal in winter, when the bones are cold and the house smells of warm, faraway places. It’s such a satisfying dish, for both the body and the soul!

Click here for Renee’s recipe for Easy Curried Red Lentil Dhal with Coconut Milk

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