This Red Lentil Dal recipe makes the perfect plant-based Indian meal! Rich, fragrant, and packed with protein for a meal you can feel good about.
Guys, we made it. This red lentil dal is the sixth Indian recipe in a row I’ve shared here on the blog.
If you’re like me, you’ve been loving these recipes and hopefully adding them into your upcoming meal plans.
However, if you’re not a fan of Indian food (howwww???), please accept my apologies for the recent bombardment of deliciously spiced dishes and know that we will soon return to regular (aka, varied) programming.
Okay, now about this recipe.
There are many ways to spell dal and so I’m fine if you use any of these varieties: red lentil dal recipe, red lentil dhal recipe, red lentil daal recipe, or red lentil dahl recipe.
Dal (however you want to spell it) is one of my very favorite Indian dishes because of how quickly it is made.
A red lentil dal cooks really fast, so this whole red lentil recipe is done in 30 minutes start-to-finish.
Red lentils look more orange than red after the cook, especially with the addition of turmeric.
I use Bob’s Red Mill Red Lentils which are grown in the Pacific Northwest.
There are a few different ways that people make dal, but my favorite way to is temper the spices and aromatics in oil.
I used to make my red lentil dal by just chucking everything in the same pot, and while it’s still tasty that way, it doesn’t come close to flavor of the tempered version.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry. Just read on.
Basically, all you have to do is put some lentils and water in a pot, then fry the rest of the ingredients in oil while the lentils cook.
The hot oil helps release all of the wonderful fragrance and flavor from the garlic, ginger, and spices (tempering!).
The tempered oil and aromatics are then added to the lentils at the last minute (along with some lemon juice) so the flavor stays bright and fresh.
How to Make Dahl
Here is the process to make this Indian Red Lentil Dahl. For the exact amount of each ingredient, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
First, assemble this group of wonderfully colorful ingredients.
Place the rinsed lentils in a large saucepan along with 3 cups of room temperature water. Turn the heat to medium and allow the lentils to cook for 20 minutes.
Cook until the tomato begins to fall apart, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Discard the cinnamon stick.
Stir the spiced onion mixture into the pot of lentils.
Add the lemon juice and stir well.
Taste and add salt as needed. If it is too dry, then add some water. If it is too wet, then cook on low until it thickens to your liking.
Serve with basmati rice and naan.
If you have any leftovers, save them in the freezer.
I store mine right next to my frozen naan from Trader Joe’s – perfect for an impromptu Indian lunch!
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Here’s the Recipe!
- 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 3 cups room temperature water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 green chili pepper, stemmed, seeded, and minced (serrano for spicy, jalapeno for more mild)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon finely minced ginger root
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- Juice of one half a lemon
- Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
- Place the rinsed lentils in a large saucepan along with 3 cups of room temperature water. Turn the heat to medium and allow the lentils to cook for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick; cook for 60 to 90 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the onion, green chili pepper, garlic, and ginger; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are turning translucent.
- Add the turmeric, cardamom, paprika, salt, and tomato to the pan. Cook until the tomato begins to fall apart, about 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.
- Once the lentils are cooked, drain off any excess water that is on top of the lentils, but do not drain off all the water. Stir the spiced onion mixture into the pot of lentils. Add the lemon juice and stir well. Taste and add salt as needed. If it is too dry, then add some water. If it is too wet, then cook on low until it thickens to your liking.
- Garnish with cilantro; serve with basmati rice and naan.
Serving Size:1/4th the recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 168|Total Fat: 4g|Saturated Fat: 0g|Trans Fat: 0g|Unsaturated Fat: 3g|Cholesterol: 0mg|Sodium: 557mg|Carbohydrates: 29g|Fiber: 6g|Sugar: 13g|Protein: 6g|
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The wonderful people over at Bob’s Red Mill were kind enough to sponsor this dal recipe. I love supporting local companies!
November 14, 2016 | Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by Linda