A simple dal recipe for babies with sweet potato, split yellow peas (chana dal) and a just a hint of fragrant spice. Salt free, creamy and sweet, babies will love this first taste of lentil dal, which can be pureed smooth or served with a little texture depending on their age and stage. This is an iron and protein rich baby food suitable from 6 months plus.
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that while I don’t do baby led weaning per se, I enjoy giving babies versions of grown up food that I cook for myself. Both of my babies have enjoyed Indian inspired dishes. Sweet, creamy dal lends itself perfectly to being adapted to baby food.
Lentils are incredibly nutritious, packed with protein, fiber and plant based iron, so they are especially ideal for vegetarian babies.
Why is this a dal for babies?
When I make dal for myself, I make it very salty, buttery and sometimes a little spicy. The salt content alone would make it inappropriate for a baby.
So this is a very simple recipe, with a few baby friendly concessions.
- No salt (babies under 1 can’t have added salt) or chili (there are no rules but I personally prefer to hold off on chili)
- We add sweet potato for added creaminess and flavor, as well as putting some vitamin C in the dish to help the plant based iron from the lentils be absorbed.
- There’s just a hint of fragrant spice, so it’s pleasant but not overwhelming.
This dal is suitable from 6 months plus
These ingredients are all suitable from 6 months plus and this dal can be one of baby’s first foods.
The texture is entirely up to you. You can puree it completely smooth for the younger babies, or leave it chunky for the older babies, or somewhere in between. In the batch pictured, I used the immersion blender to make it smoother, but not completely.
How to Serve
If you’re making this for a younger baby, puree it smooth and spoon feed like any other puree. You may need to thin it out with some water.
For an older baby, mix with rice. You can also add extra veggies such as peas to the bowl.
How to Store
You will get 8-10 servings from this recipe (yes there are a couple portions missing from this photo because my 1 year old was eating a big bowl of it while I took the photos!)
It can freeze for up to 6 months.
First Dal for Babies
- ½ cup (100 g) of dried yellow lentils, aka chana dal
- ½ of a sweet potato, chopped into small chunks
- 1 small tomato, deseeded and chopped finely
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- ¼ tsp minced or grated ginger
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp garam masala
- 1.5 cups of water
- In a small saucepan, heat a little olive oil or coconut oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
- Add the tomato, turmeric, garam masala, sweet potato and lentils and then 1.5 cups of water.
- Simmer for up to 1 hour, until the lentils are soft and the sweet potato is melting in. If the dal seems too thick at any point, add another 1/2 cup of water.
- Optional: Puree until you achieve the desired texture.
My 11 month old is loving this right now! Thanks for sharing this recipe! I’ll be making it again.
Yay! I am so happy to hear this 🙂
Would you advise storing in the fridge and for how long?
Yes I think 3-4 days would be fine.
In the simmering step, should I cover it? So excited to see how this turns out!
Yes cover it! Hope it turns out well for you.
Thank you for the recipe. Was wondering if I can opt out garam masala as I don’t know where to get it here at my place, and also can I cook this in the slow cooker?
Thank you so much, once again.
You can leave out the garam masala yes, I wonder if you could add mix up some cinnamon, cumin and ground coriander to give a similar flavor. And yes you can cook it in the slow cooker – you’d need a little less water is all.
Hi can I use red lentils instead of yellow
Yes definitely feel free to make that swap, cooking time would be lower too (around 20mins)
Thank you for the recipe. My 1 year old loves it. I’m just wondering, is it meant to have a grainy texture once blended?
Yes lentils can end up on the grainy side, but if you cook it longer with some extra water it will probably end up a little silkier and creamier. So happy to hear that your little one is enjoying it! 🙂
Are you able to freeze the left overs?
Yes you can freeze this no problem!
Can I add coconut milk?
Yes definitely! That would be really tasty and add some sweetness.
This is a great recipe. Can I give this to my 7 month old?
Yes! It is suitable from 6 months.