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: 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 dal meal.

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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

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.

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.

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.

quick-red-lentil-dal-dahl

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: 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.

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: 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.

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.

How to Make 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.

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.

How to Make Daal.  This Red Lentil Daal recipe makes the perfect plant-based Indian meal! Rich, fragrant, and packed with protein for a meal you can feel good about.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.

How to Make Dhal.  This Red Lentil Dhal recipe makes the perfect plant-based Indian meal! Rich, fragrant, and packed with protein for a meal you can feel good about.Add the onion, green chili pepper, garlic, and ginger; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are turning translucent.

How to Make Dahl.  This Red Lentil Dahl recipe makes the perfect plant-based Indian meal! Rich, fragrant, and packed with protein for a meal you can feel good about.
Add the turmeric, cardamom, paprika, salt, and tomato to the pan.

How to Make 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.

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

How to Make 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.

Discard the cinnamon stick.

How to Make 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.
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.

How to Make Daal.  This Red Lentil Daal recipe makes the perfect plant-based Indian meal! Rich, fragrant, and packed with protein for a meal you can feel good about.

Stir the spiced onion mixture into the pot of lentils.

How to Make Dhal.  This Red Lentil Dhal recipe makes the perfect plant-based Indian meal! Rich, fragrant, and packed with protein for a meal you can feel good about.

Add the lemon juice and stir well.

How to Make Dahl.  This Red Lentil Dahl recipe makes the perfect plant-based Indian meal! Rich, fragrant, and packed with protein for a meal you can feel good about.

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.

How to Make 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.
Garnish with cilantro.

How to Make 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.

Serve with basmati rice and naan.

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.

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!

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

Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

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.

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
  • Juice of one half a lemon
  • Chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Add the onion, green chili pepper, garlic, and ginger; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the onions are turning translucent.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Garnish with cilantro; serve with basmati rice and naan.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1/4th the recipe
Amount Per Serving Calories 168Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 0mgSodium 557mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 6gSugar 13gProtein 6g

Did you make this recipe?

Take a picture and tag @thewanderlustkitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #thewanderlustkitchen. We can't wait to see your version!

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.

November 14, 2016 | Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by Linda

57 thoughts on “Indian Red Lentil Dal”

  1. Hi,
    Your recipes look very delicious. I was given 4 bags of lentils and would love to make this recipe. However, they are not Red Lentils.
    Do you know what spices I could add to make them taste like Red Lentils? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  2. can I add a bit of coconut milk to this? I have some leftover and would like to use it up. if so, when is the best time to add it?

    Reply
    • Hi Susan,

      Yes, give it a try. I would add it in step 5 when the lentils are added. You might add a little less of the water that the lentils are in to allow for the coconut milk. Let us know how you like it.

      – Linda

      Reply
  3. Just made this (literally). It is so delish! One suggestion – can you indicate that the measurements are found at the recipe below at the beginning. I estimated the ingredients based on your pics (a little frustrating but the recipe looked so good I did not want to find a new one). Only to find the ingredients at the end (and the instructions repeated. All in all, it worked out, I just keep tasting through out.

    Thanks so much, looking forward to making again!

    Reply
    • HI Jo,

      Yes, you can freeze the leftovers. Let the dish come to room temperature before you freeze it. I recommend using freezer safe plastic bags and freeze serving sizes, so you can defrost and eat just the amount you need. This dish will taste best when defrosted slowly, so defrost overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat it. Add a little more liquid if needed if it looks like it is drying out too much when you reheat it.

      – Linda

      Reply
  4. really really good. first time cooking Indian Dal and will defiantly make again, wanted a bit more spice so i added 1/2 tsp red curry powder and it seems to make it even better. served with naan + greek yogurt

    Reply

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