Most of us are cooking at home full-time now which can be really hard. So, I want to help make it quick, easy, delicious, and FUN!
If you've never had Red Lentil Dahl before, you're in for a treat! It's fragrant, satisfying, and filled with soul-warming flavor!
Ingredients Needed to Make Red Lentil Dahl
* This is a quick overview with step-by-step photos. For the complete ingredient amounts and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card.
- For the main ingredient, you'll need Red Lentils.
- To make the flavorful base, you’ll need Avocado Oil, Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Curry Powder, Ground Cumin, and Crushed Red Pepper.
- For the savory and creamy sauce, you’ll need Tomato Purée, Salt, Vegetable Broth, and Coconut Milk.
- To finish, add brightness with a squeeze of Lemon and Cilantro.
How to make it
- 1 - Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened and lightly golden.
- 2 - Add the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
- 3 - Add the curry powder, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- 4 - Now add the tomato purée. Cook for about 5 minutes until it thickens up.
- 5 - Add the broth, coconut milk, red lentils, and salt. Stir well to combine. Gently simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
- 6 - Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and cut cilantro. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up.
- Don't overcook the lentils or they will lose their texture and become mushy.
- For a thinner consistency, add a few splashes of broth or water to thin.
- Keep everything at a moderate simmer. If you boil it, the coconut milk may curdle and the liquid will cook down too fast.
- If you want a thicker consistency, reduce the vegetable broth and coconut milk by ½ cup each. Note: the lentil dahl naturally thickens up as it cools down a bit.
- To make this kid-friendly, you can reduce or omit the crushed pepper and reduce the cumin.
Flavor Enhancing Ideas
I kept this dahl recipe simple, but it still has a wonderful flavor. Just make sure to sauté the onions well until they are lightly golden, and sauté the garlic and spices until they are fragrant. Also, make sure your spices are not expired and choose a quality brand.
If you want to add additional flavor, you can add ½ teaspoon cumin, coriander or garam masala to the curry powder.
This lentil dahl is mildly-spiced, so if you want more heat, you can add 1 small jalapeño or serrano pepper with the garlic and ginger. Deseed the peppers first, then dice or slice them. You can leave some seeds for extra heat.
- Garlic – I prefer fresh garlic, but if you don’t have it, you can use frozen or jarred.
- Ginger – Frozen, paste, or jarred will work fine.
- Curry Powder – You use 1 teaspoon each of cumin, turmeric, and coriander. A few pinches of cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper are a nice addition, too.
- Crushed Red Pepper – Cayenne pepper is a great substitute. Just add a few pinches.
- Tomato Purée – Crushed tomatoes or 1.5 cups of canned diced will work too. You can also dice 3 medium tomatoes and cook with their juices.
- Red Lentils – You can use yellow lentils, but they will take longer to cook. Just simmer until tender.
- Coconut Milk – You can use homemade cashew cream or any store-bought vegan cream that’s unsweetened. Lite coconut milk will work too. Just use 1 ¼ cups instead of the full can.
- Lemon Juice – Fresh lime juice will work too.
What To Serve With Dahl
It's very hearty on its own, but I like to serve it with rice, naan, lemon wedges, and fresh-cut cilantro. It also goes perfectly with quinoa, salad, cauliflower rice, artisan bread, roasted or steamed veggies, Bombay potatoes, and more!
Can I Freeze It?
Yes, you can, but the texture may change slightly due to the coconut milk. Sometimes it gets a little grainy, but it's never bothered me. However, if you're cooking this dahl specifically to freeze it, you can leave out the coconut milk and cook the recipe the same way.
It'll freeze well for 4-6 months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight. When you are ready to cook, add the coconut milk and heat on medium until it's thickened and heated throughout.
More Indian-Inspired Recipes To Try:
I love to hear from you
If you make this Red Lentil Dahl, let me know what you think by ★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would really make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @veganhuggs and hashtag #veganhuggs so I don’t miss it.
Red Lentil Dahl
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil or preferred oil
- 1 large onion , finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger , grated or minced (fresh, frozen or paste)
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper , more to taste (sub ¼ tsp cayenne)
- 4 cups vegetable broth , low sodium
- 2 cups red lentils , rinsed well and drained
- 1 cup tomato purée , jarred/canned (not paste or sauce)
- ¾ teaspoon salt , more to taste
- 14 ounces coconut milk , canned (full-fat)
- 1 lemon , juiced (sub with lime)
- ¼ cup cilantro , chopped
For Serving (Optional)
- Fresh-Cut Cilantro
- Lemon Wedges
- Rice (about 3 cups cooked)
- Lower heat one notch and add the garlic and ginger. Sauté for 30-60 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the curry powder, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Now add the tomato purée. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until it thickens up. Stir often to prevent sticking or burning. Lower heat if needed.
- Add the broth, coconut milk, red lentils, and salt. Stir well to combine. Raise the heat to get things moving, then lower the heat to maintain a mild-moderate simmer. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and cut cilantro. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken up. Serve with rice, naan lemon wedges and more cilantro if desired. Enjoy!
Useful Tools To make This Recipe