This Easy Indian Red Lentil Dahl recipe is a must-try if you’re looking for a flavorful curry, soup, or stew dish, that’s vegan and protein-rich. It’s delicious, healthy and one of the best lentil dishes to warm you up in winter or for cold weather.
You can’t go wrong with this Indian Lentil Dahl, it’s pretty easy to make and you can make various variations to fit your taste. This dish is also rich in micro- and macronutrients like carbohydrates and protein, so it nourishes your body perfectly. The ingredients are inexpensive and very simple. Let’s get started!
What is Lentil Dahl
If India has a staple dish, it has to be Dahl (also spelled Daal, Dhal, or Dal). Whether you’re rich or poor, everybody eats this dish. While “Dahl” is a term used for dried, split pulses or legumes such as lentils, dried peas, and beans, it is also the of the dish itself – A flavorful curry or rather soup that is more similar to a thick stew. And though lentil dishes have been around for a long time in India, the history of daal dates far way back in a period in which lentils were probably a staple food all over South Asian countries.
Lentil Dahl Recipe Variations
From ingredients to flavors, you can practically add your own twist to this recipe. While soft-boiled lentils give a wonderfully creamy, thick, soup-like consistency, many traditional Dahl recipes are also prepared with other split pulses such as beans, chickpeas, or peas. However, there are now a variety of newer recipe variations that include other spices, additional vegetables, and even meat or meat alternatives.
Here are some of the most popular dal variations you could prepare this recipe with:
- Chana Daal – are chickpeas that are cleaned, hulled, and split after harvesting. It’s a popular ingredient in Ayurvedic and Indian cuisine.
- Urad Daal – or known as the “black gram” is a staple ingredient in East Indian recipes. It has high protein content and the primary ingredient in south Indian dosa and idli.
- Panchratna Daal – means “five jewels” in Hindi/Urdu. Five varieties of daal are combined creating a distinct flavor.
- Masoor Daal – is characterized by its red color, these are split red lentils that cook fast and don’t require pre-soaking. This is also what we use in today’s recipe.
Now if you’re interested in trying out another dahl recipe, you would love my Yellow Lentil Dal! This Indian Lentil soup like today’s recipe is healthy and perfect for cold weather.
How to make Indian Red Lentil Dahl
Craving for something healthy yet filling recipe? Let’s start making this lentil dahl!
First, in a skillet or saucepan, heat the coconut oil. Toss the chopped onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes until translucent. After that, add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute until fragrant. Lastly, add your spices and sauté for a few seconds to bring out the flavors.
Rinse the lentils under cold running water in a fine-mashed sieve. Then toss them in the skillet with the onion mixture. Pour in the vegetable broth and stir, bring to a simmer. For 8-10 minutes, cook covered until the water is almost absorbed by the lentils. Add the coconut milk and strained tomatoes (if using), simmer for another 5-10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. (Tip: If the sauce is too thick or if you’d like to serve this Indian lentil dish as a soup, add a more broth or coconut milk until your desired consistency is reached.)
Then, season with salt, pepper coconut sugar, and lime or lemon juice to taste. And for the final touch, garnish your Indian red lentil dahl with a swirl of non-dairy yogurt, freshly chopped parsley or coriander, and sesame seeds or other toppings you like. You can serve it over rice or with homemade vegan naan or aloo paratha or use your Indian lentil curry as a filling for your favorite hearty pancake, crêpes, or tortilla recipe. Enjoy!
Can you make it ahead?
Yes! This is also a fitting meal if you’re doing meal preps. Just make sure to use fresh ingredients to preserve the taste once you refrigerate or freeze them. When you’re ready to serve it, you can simply reheat it on the stove with a little additional water or warm it in the microwave.
Storage and freezing instructions
Got some leftovers or did you set aside some for later? Here’s how to store it:
- Store in an airtight container and put inside the refrigerator, it will last for 3-5 days.
- Want to keep them longer? Freeze it for future meals!
Tips for making the best Lentil Dahl
Want to make the best lentil dahl? Here are some tips you can follow:
- Which lentils? – make sure to use fresh/new and high-quality lentils. This is an essential ingredient so this will affect the taste of the recipe. Basically you can use any kind of lentils you like. However, keep in mind that you may have to adjust the cooking time, as it can vary depending on the type. It is best to simply check the instructions on the package.
- Rinse – get rid of any husks or other debris before cooking your lentil dal.
- Timing is everything – cook the lentils until soft but not for too long or they will get mushy.
- Fresh ingredients – using fresh lemon juice, flavorful tomatoes, organic coconut milk, and high-quality seasonings can make a huge difference in taste.
This Indian Red Lentil Dahl Recipe is:
- Vegan, Plant-based
- Diary-free (lactose-free)
- Quick and easy to make
- So delicious
- The perfect vegan weeknight dinner!
Did you enjoy this recipe?
If you loved this recipe, you might want to try these Indian inspired recipes:
If you try this Vegan Red Lentil Dahl recipe, please leave a comment and a rating on how you liked it! And if you take a picture of your Indian lentil curry soup and share it on Instagram, please tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka, because I love seeing your remakes! Happy cooking!
Indian Red Lentil DahlAuthor:
For the Dahl
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil or other neutral oil for frying
- 2 onions chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tsp ginger minced (or more to taste)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp red paprika powder
- 1 tsp garam masala or other curry powder to taste
- 1 ⅔ cups red lentils
- 3 ¼ cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup strained tomatoes or chopped tomatoes, optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tsp coconut sugar or to taste
- 2-3 tbsp lime or lemon juice or to taste
- *Note: Check out the recipe video + step-by-step photos above for visual instruction!
- Heat the coconut oil in a skillet or saucepan. Add the chopped onions, and sauté for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger sauté for another minute until fragrant. Lastly, add the spices, and sauté for a few seconds to unfold flavors.
- Place the lentils in a fine-mashed sieve and rinse until cold running water. Then add them to the onion mixture in the skillet. Pour in the vegetable broth, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Cook covered for 8-10 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed most of the liquid.
- Add the coconut milk and strained tomatoes (if using) and simmer another 5-10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. (If the sauce is too thick, add a little more broth or coconut milk, until the desired consistency is reached). Season with salt, pepper, coconut sugar, and lime juice to taste.
- Storage & freezing: Store leftover dahl in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days or freeze for the future.
- Nutrition information doesn't include rice.
- Please read my blog post for tips, recipe variations, and further information.
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