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Bowl of indian red lentils topped with cilantro and red chili.

Indian Red Lentil Dal

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.
Author: Kim @ DancesWithKnives
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, South Asian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan
Servings: 5


  • 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!


*The lentils do not need to be soaked.
*Omit the chili if you don't like spicy food.
*The coconut milk can be replaced with vegetable stock or water.


Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 34.5g | Protein: 12.4g | Fat: 8.7g | Saturated Fat: 4.2g | Sodium: 377mg | Potassium: 444mg | Fiber: 14.1g | Sugar: 4.8g | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 4mg
Keyword Indian red lentils, masoor dal, red lentil dal, red lentils
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