Creamy, comforting, packed with protein, high in fiber, and easy to make, this Indian Red Lentil Dal is delicious! Full of all the craveable complex Indian flavor with just a few simple steps. It goes perfectly with rice, quinoa, roti, or naan.
I love Indian food! It's a great way to incorporate lentils into a plant based diet. And dal is the perfect dish just for that. By adding layers of flavor and spice, simple red lentils turn into a delicious unforgettable meal.
For that reason, I find myself making red lentil dal quite often. It's simple to make, filling, and good for you. It goes perfectly with a side of rice or bread and a vegetable to make it a well rounded complete meal! Not to mention it freezes incredibly well.
And better yet, like most Indian dishes, dal can be made in just one pot. In fact, one of my favorite things to do is to gather all the Indian spices that I have laying around my kitchen and then toss a combination of them into a pot along with some lentils and water. Then turn on the heat and return 40 minutes later to a pot of ready to eat dal.
Indeed, one of the many great things about Indian cooking is that once you get familiar with the spices, you can easily start crafting the recipes to your own personal liking. I think that's the beauty of cooking and learning more about any cuisine.
What is Dal?
People have been eating dal and creating their own family recipes for hundreds of years now.
The word dal itself means pulse in Hindi. Dal can be used to describe many different types of dried lentils, beans, and peas. In the case of this recipe, we are using red lentils, also known as masoor dal in India.
The term dal is also used to describe a variety of soups and stews prepared with these various types of pulses. Dal is a staple dish that is very popular and eaten all over India and Southern Asia. You will almost always be served some type of dal along with any meal and often times dal is the main dish.
How to Make Red Lentil Dal
Don't you just love a quick and simple uncomplicated recipe that tastes like it took hours to make? One that takes little to no effort, but produces an amazing meal. Then this red lentil dal recipe is for you.
To begin you simply saute the onions, garlic, and ginger along with all the delicious Indian spices. Then you add the red lentils along with all the other ingredients to the pot and cook for 30 minutes. It practically makes itself!
After 30 minutes, you whisk some of the lentils to create a creamy texture. Then to finish the dish add a dash of lemon, a sprinkle of cilantro, and some sliced chili if you like. Serve the dal with a side of rice, quinoa, roti, or naan to make a complete meal and a dinner is done.
Leftovers & Variations
Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 6 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. This recipe is perfect for making ahead.
Reheat the leftover dal in a pot on the stove top. If it seems a little thick simply add a little water. If it seems too thin then allow the dal to simmer uncovered for a few additional minutes so that the excess liquid can evaporate.
For variations to the recipe, simply open up your cabinet and pull out your favorite Indian spices. This dish is extremely versatile. To adjust the level of spice, feel free to omit the chili pepper or add as much as you like. The coconut milk can also be replaced by water or vegetable stock.
This recipe for Indian Red Lentil Dal is top notch because it's...
- Creamy and comforting full of Indian flavors
- A delicious one pot wonder
- High in both protein and fiber
- Easily adaptable to your desired level of spice
- A great make ahead meal that freezes well
I hope you love this easy recipe for Indian red lentil dal, also known as masoor dal. May it keep you warm in the evenings and fill your belly with a yummy meal.
If you try this recipe please let me know how it turns out by leaving a comment and rating. You can also hashtag #danceswithknives with a photo of your creation on Instagram where you can find me @dances_with_knives.
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Indian Red Lentil Dal
- 1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 1 ½ tablespoon grapeseed oil (neutral oil)
- 1 medium onion, diced small (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon paprika (not smoked)
- 1 serrano chili, cut in half
- 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 14 oz can coconut milk
- 1 cup vegetable stock or water
- 2 to 3 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste (I used 1 ½ teaspoon fine kosher salt, but sea salt use much less)
- Fresh chopped cilantro
- Lemon wedges
- Sliced Chilies
- Rinse the lentils then drain and set aside.
- Add oil to a medium size cold pot along with the garlic and ginger. Turn the heat on to medium and cook for about 2 minutes until the garlic and ginger begin to smell fragrant.
- Add the onions to the garlic and ginger with a sprinkle of salt. Cook for another 2 minutes.
- Once the onions have cooked a little bit and are a tad translucent add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, and paprika. Cook for another 2 minutes tossing to coat the onions, garlic, and ginger in the spices.
- Next add the red lentils, diced tomatoes, coconut milk, vegetable stock, and serrano chili. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes stirring from time to time to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add more water if needed if the lentils get too thick. This should not happen if they are simmering, but every stove is different.
- After 30 minutes the lentils should be cooked. Now, stir with a whisk to break the lentils up, which will create a nice consistency for the dal. If the dal seems on the thin side just continue to cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the lemon juice along with the sugar and stir.
- At this point taste for salt and season to taste. I used 1 ½ teaspoon of salt. The amount of salt you will need will depend on how saltly your vegetable stock was along with your preferred taste. Start with ½ teaspoon and go from there. If the lentils taste bland keep adding salt. Mastering salt is a science and this is the best way to learn. I used fine kosher salt.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro, lemon wedges, and sliced chilies. Serve alongside rice, quinoa, roti, or naan. Enjoy!
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