Quick & easy Red Lentil Dal that is as soul-warming as it is delicious. It's super creamy thanks to the melty red lentils & rich coconut milk and naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Hello, creamy soft red lentils bathed in coconut milk and spices. I'm looking at you Red Lentil Dal!
Something totally magical happens when you combine red lentils, spices, tomatoes, and coconut milk, then simmer them all together. So cozy, comforting and so delicious!
This Dal is rich, creamy, gently spiced, full of protein, very filling, and budget-friendly, assuming you keep a good selection of staple spices in your pantry.
What Is Dal?
Wondering what Dal actually is? I like Cooking Light's description of it. They say "Dal or dhal, just like posole (or pozole) is both an ingredient and a dish: it refers to a type of dried split pea or lentil and the deeply spiced stew made from simmering the split peas until nicely broken down".
It's a staple dish of India and South Asia and "archaeological evidence indicates that Indian dal made its first appearance in the Indus Valley Civilization (bronze age), where lentils – of all kinds – were a staple food." Sanchari Pal, The Fascinating History of the Humble Dal.
Gather up your ingredients and let's get to it...Here is what's joining the Dal party today:
And a few of ingredient notes:
- Red lentils - Also known as Masoor Dal/Dahl. I don't recommend using any other type of lentils in this recipe because you would need to adjust the amount of liquids added, and then also the seasonings too. Make sure your lentils aren't old and have been stored correctly. Old lentils can take much longer to cook and sometimes won't become tender no matter how long you cook them for.
- Tomatoes - I like to add diced fresh tomato. You can add the equivalent amount of canned diced tomatoes if you prefer but the flavour won't be quite as good.
- Coconut milk - This should be from a can. You can use full fat canned coconut milk or light coconut milk. I prefer full fat coconut milk because it is creamier and adds more flavour to the finished dish.
Expert Tip - You can add just about any vegetable to this dal. It's a great meal for clearing out the fridge and using up what you have. Spinach, kale, cauliflower, chickpeas, diced potatoes or sweet potatoes work particularly well. Be sure to add harder vegetables like potatoes near the beginning and easy cook veggies like spinach and kale towards the end.
How To Make Red Lentil Dal
Red Lentil Dal recipe is perfect for when you want a fresh, cozy, delicious, and healthy meal on the table pretty fast. Here's how:
- Sauté the onions, garlic, ginger, and spices.
- Add the lentils and let them toast for a few minutes.
- Add all of the other ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Let it simmer until the dal is thick and the lentils are tender.
Tips For Storing Leftovers
This is one of those meals where you can really look forward to the leftovers because the flavours continue to develop over time and just get better and better.
Store leftover dal in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat gently in a pan on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Got an Instant Pot?
If you have an Instant Pot you might want to hop on over to my Instant Pot Lentil Dal. It's been adapted very slightly so that it works perfectly in an Instant Pot. It's equally as delish!
If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it by leaving a comment and rating below! And be sure to join my mailing list for more deliciousness!
More Lentil Recipes
Red Lentil DalAuthor:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil , or a little water for oil-free
- 1 medium onion , diced
- 4 large garlic cloves , minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger , finely chopped or grated
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes , or 1 small fresh red chili
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds , or ¾ teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds , or ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper , & more to taste
- 2 teaspoons salt , & more to taste
- 2 cups (400 grams) split red lentils , dried
- 3 large tomatoes , chopped into small chunks
- 1 can ( 13.5oz/400 ml) coconut milk , full fat or light
- 3½ cups (840 ml) water
- Warm the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once hot add the chopped onion and sauté for 5 to 10 minutes until translucent.
- Add the chopped garlic & ginger to the pan and cook for about 1 minute longer.
- Add the chili and spices and cook them out for a minute or two then add the lentils. Toast the lentils gently for a few minutes, stirring frequently to stop them sticking.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, water and coconut milk, stir well and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Turn down to medium low, and continue to simmer for around another 25-30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until the lentils are breaking down and the sauce is nice and thick.