Kale Yeah! Begin a Plant-Based Diet with this Recipe

plant-based cooking meherwan iraniA renowned chef and cardiologist walk into a kitchen and step in front of a camera. No, it’s not the beginning of a dad joke, it’s the start of a delicious and hearty dish of Indian-Style Lentils with Carrots and Kale.

What was supposed to be a Facebook Live – but turned into a video cooking demonstration due to Facebook’s unexpected downtime – featured Merherwan Irani, executive chef at Asheville’s Chai Pani and Brian Asbill, MD, of Asheville Cardiology Associates and Mission Heart.

“We wanted to do a plant-based dish and I wanted to do a complete meal in a pot that would be easy for anyone to cook with just off-the-shelf ingredients,” said Chef Merherwan.

The Indian-Style Lentil dish featured healthy and familiar ingredients that you may already find in your pantry or can be purchased at a local grocery store. Here’s a brief summary of what we learned!

How are the ingredients heart healthy?

What is a plant-based diet?

Differentiated from a vegan diet, which emphasizes not consuming animal products, a plant-based diet includes whole, minimally processed dishes from plants, which include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. The diet also avoids many animal products.

“When we talk about plant-based, what I’m really talking about is whole-food plant-based,” said Dr. Asbill

How can a plant-based diet contribute to good health?

Indian-Style Lentils (Daal)

“There are so many reasons you can choose a plant-based diet for health,” says Dr. Asbill. “A plant-based diet has been shown to reverse cardiovascular (heart) disease, diabetes and early-stage prostate cancer as well as reduce the risk of high blood pressure, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.”

When it comes to living a healthy lifestyle, “it’s all about eating better, moving more, managing stress, sleeping well and stop smoking,” said Dr. Asbill who has been a cardiologist at Mission Health since 2001. “The three keys are nutrition, exercise and stress management and nutrition is the cornerstone.”

“In the restaurant business, chefs don’t lead a very healthy lifestyle. And more and more, that is starting to turn. Chefs are cooking healthier and taking care of themselves. For me, I had a wake up two years ago when I realized where my blood sugar levels were, it completely changed the way I started cooking at home and that manifested in the restaurant too.”

Will plant-based eating help you lose weight?

“Yes it will,” says Dr. Asbill. “I tend to think about food as nutrients and calories.” For instance a soft drink and donut, which may be a vegan option, are very calorie rich but nutrient poor and a whole-food, plant-based dish the lentils are nutrient rich but have fewer calories, allowing you to eat until you’re comfortably full.

See for Yourself How the Hearty Dish is Prepared

So here’s your chance to try this at home: Indian-Style Lentils with Carrots and Kale.

“This is a one-pot meal that we’ll make at home often and we’ll keep in the refrigerator after we are done,” said Chef Merherwan. “It’s a really versatile delicious dish that has tons of favor.”

Just how good was the 30-minute dish? “Delicious,” said Dr. Asbill. “I get first dibs on talking this home?’



  1. Heat olive oil in medium-large pot over medium-low heat
  2. Add cumin seeds and once they start to sizzle add onions, carrots, ginger, and garlic
  3. Stir until tender and just starting to brown (5 – 7 minutes)
  4. Add turmeric and red chili powder, and stir for another 2 minutes until spices are mixed in well
  5. Add water, lentils, tomatoes and salt then bring to a boil
  6. Reduce to simmer until lentils are tender 25-30 minutes
  7. Add kale, vinegar and pepper then simmer for another 10 minutes
  8. Taste for salt
  9. Serve as a soup or over brown rice
  10. ENJOY!

About Meherwan Irani

Irani is an Asheville-based Executive Chef & Chief Chaiwalla. In 2009, Irani quit his day job in sales to open his first Asheville restaurant– Chai Pani, an authentic Indian street food joint. With four James Beard Award nominations for Best Chef in the Southeast under his belt, he’s finally confident this might be working out. His restaurants have been written up in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, GQ, Food & Wine, Men’s Health, USA Today, and Bon Appetit, among others.

About Brian Asbill, MD

A noninvasive cardiologist with Asheville Cardiology Associates and Mission Heart, Dr. Asbill believes the foundation of good health is based on good habits. These habits include eating the right foods, moving more and managing stress. He received his medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina, where he also completed his cardiovascular fellowship. Dr. Asbill enjoys seeing patients take ownership in their health by incorporating various lifestyle changes. Learn more about Dr. Asbill [1].