30 Minute MondaysBeans & LegumesGluten-FreeIndianMain DishNon-DairyUnder 30 MinutesVeganVegetarian

Indian Red Lentil Dal

 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.

Red Lentil Dal in a metal pan on a table

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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.

Indian Red Lentil Dal Recipe in metal pan on table

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.

Indian Dahl in metal pan with spoon on the side

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.

package of bob's red mill red lentils on a table

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.

Red Lentil Dal in a metal pan with a spoon on the side

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.

Indian Red Lentil Dal in a pan with naan bread and other side dishes around it.

How to Make Dal

Here is the process to make this Indian Red Lentil Dal. 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.

Red Lentil Dahl recipe ingredients on a table

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.

Red lentils in a pan of waterMeanwhile, 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.

cumin seeds and cinnamon stick in a panAdd the onion, green chili pepper, garlic, and ginger; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are turning translucent.

cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, onion, green chili pepper, garlic, and ginger in a pan on a table
Add the turmeric, cardamom, paprika, salt, and tomato to the pan.

Vegetables and spices in a pan

Cook until the tomato begins to fall apart, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Cooking vegetables and spices in a pan

Discard the cinnamon stick.

Cooking vegetables and spices in a pan
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.

Cooked red lentils in a pan

Stir the spiced onion mixture into the pot of lentils.

Mixing lentils and vegetables in a pan to Make Dhal

Add the lemon juice and stir well.

Making Dahl in a pan

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.

Dal in a pan with wooden spoon holding some of the dal.
Garnish with cilantro.

Red Lentil Dal in a black bowl with rice and naan bread on the side

Serve with basmati rice and naan.

Red Lentil Dal served with rice in bowls

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!

I’d love for you to keep in touch! You can enter your email address below to get new recipes sent to you.

It's amazing what a few fragrant ingredient and spices can do to a pot of lentils! Serve with plenty of naan bread and basmati rice for the perfect Indian meal.

Indian Red Lentil Dal Recipe

How to make Indian Dal. 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.
4.5 from 3555 votes
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Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 222kcal
Author: The Wanderlust Kitchen
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 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
  • 1/2 lemon - juice of
  • Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Instructions

  • Place the rinsed lentils in a large saucepan along with room temperature water. Turn the heat to medium and allow the lentils to cook for 20 minutes. You can cook them covered or uncovered, just make sure that you turn down the heat if needed to keep them at a gentle simmer.
  • 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.

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Nutrition Facts
Indian Red Lentil Dal Recipe
Serving Size
 
1 serving
Amount per Serving
Calories
222
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
4
g
6
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Sodium
 
490
mg
21
%
Potassium
 
595
mg
17
%
Carbohydrates
 
34
g
11
%
Fiber
 
15
g
63
%
Sugar
 
4
g
4
%
Protein
 
13
g
26
%
Vitamin A
 
297
IU
6
%
Vitamin C
 
12
mg
15
%
Calcium
 
53
mg
5
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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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!

It's amazing what a few fragrant ingredient and spices can do to a pot of lentils! Serve with plenty of naan bread and basmati rice for the perfect Indian meal.

About the Author

Anetta

Hi, I'm Anetta! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel stories from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. I believe that food brings us together as much as it sets us apart. Be brave, try something new!

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Comments:

  1. 3 stars
    Good and easy recipe.
    It’s quick and nutritious.

    On the down side, it didn’t come out very tasty, even though I increased the amount of spices a little bit.

    Possibly, to give it a bit more punch, double the spices plus try some Graham masala.
    Marble a table spoon of tomato past also will increase flavour.

  2. 5 stars
    Thos was amazing! So cheap and easy. I was looking for a bit for a red lentil recipe and this is the best by far. So delicious. We serve it with naan and a fresh cuke and tomato salad of sorts. Full complete meal and my young kids like it too. A+

  3. 5 stars
    Tastes delicious. Made ‘8 portions’ and it fed 4 and a bit as a main so would definitely recommend doubling up if you want to freeze some for later!

  4. Dal, where have you been all my life? I tried this recipe since I’m cooking more vegetarian these days and I wanted something to go with the Indian okra I was cooking. It was so easy and not at all time-consuming, I followed the directions exactly. While waiting on the okra to finish – I could not stop tasting! This is seriously yummy. I guess I had passed over the dal at the buffet so many times, it just looked rather bland. This is exploding with wonderful flavors! Will definitely be making again.

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