Valley Family Table

Valley Family Table

Valley’s Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee teamed up with Valley’s Food Management & Nutrition Services Department to create Valley Family Table, a weekly soup special at Trendz Café highlighting family recipes submitted by Valley employees.

The soup recipes align with the cultural observance of the month, with delicious recipes including Pepperpot, Borscht and Avgolemono on recent menus. Chef Duff is always eager to learn about foods and recipes from cultures all over the world and is passionate about inclusivity.

This May, in celebration of Asian American, Pacific Islander and South Asian Heritage Month, one of the featured recipes is Red Lentil Dahl Soup from Valley’s Advance Care Planning Coordinator Priyanka Choudhury.

“Although dahl (dalee in Assamese) is not technically a soup, it can be drunk like a soup and in fact is one of my favorite ways to eat this. Growing up as a first-generation Indian American came with a unique set of challenges. The pressures to assimilate, although intangible, were strong, and I found myself moving away from my culture to fit in. As I grew up and taught myself to embrace my identity, I wanted to learn to cook some of my favorite comfort food Indian dishes, dahl being a staple. My mother (whose Indian cooking is unmatched by anyone, in my opinion) sent me spices and attempted to write down a recipe (she does not use a recipe; cooking for her is like muscle memory). My first attempt was a travesty, and I burned the dahl, which is pretty hard to do. Mastering Indian cooking so that I can pass my culture down is one of my lifelong goals. I hope as you all try this recipe, you will feel comforted as I do when I eat dahl and I hope it reminds you to embrace and be proud of your cultural identity.”


  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 hot green chili – finely chopped, discard seeds
  • 1/2 cup onion – finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger root – fresh, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper – optional and you can use more if you like
  • 1 large tomato – diced small
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk – you could add more broth instead
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


1. Wash the red lentils, drain and set aside.

2. Add the lentils to a medium-sized saucepan and cover with the vegetable broth.

3. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat, cover and cook 20 to 23 minutes (or follow your package directions).

4. While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a skillet to medium-high. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Within a few seconds, they will begin to pop. 

5. Then add the chili and onions. Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the fresh ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cook just to heat through – 30 seconds to a minute.

6. Add the tomato, along with its juices, and cook about 5 minutes.

7. Take off the heat.

8. The lentils should be done. Check them to make sure. You can cook them longer if needed.

9. Turn the skillet contents into the pot of lentils and vegetable broth.

10. Add the salt and coconut milk and heat through.

11. Serve garnished with cilantro or parsley and paprika.

About The Author

Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office