Red Lentil Dahl (Dal) Recipe

Red lentil dahl
@lexandra panella / Getty Images
  • 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
Ratings (4)

Red lentil dahl is a quick, easy base for a meal, and this dish is a mildly spiced version of an East Indian favorite.  Red lentils are low in fat, high in healthy plant protein, minerals and fiber, and are a cost effective and super tasty way to get real nourishment. Unlike other lentils, red lentils break down when you cook them, so they lend themselves to being used in soups, sauces and stews rather than in dishes like salads or grain-and-bean combinations. Dahl (otherwise known as dhal or dal) is a staple of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and is made with any number of pulses, including split peas, mung beans, chick peas and black or green lentils. You can feel good about eating foods made with pulses because they have an extremely low environmental footprint and are highly sustainable crops. Serve the dahl with steamed brown rice, basic steamed quinoa, greens, and steamed carrots or squash. (See below of more serving suggestions).

What You'll Need

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or coconut oil or untoasted sesame oil)
  • 1 small onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped fine)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (ground)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger (chopped)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 pinches salt
  • Black pepper to taste (freshly ground)
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 4 tablespoons cilantro (finely chopped)

How to Make It

In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about five minutes.

Add the mustard seed, curry powder,  cumin and ginger, and stir constantly for one minute. Add the water, salt and lentils. Bring the lentils to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer until the lentils are soft – about 30 minutes. Adjust the seasoning, adding sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Stir in cilantro and serve.

Serving suggestions:

Brown Basmati and Wild Rice Pilaf

Basic Millet Pilaf

Brown Rice Salad with Walnuts and Currants​

Savory Sauteed Kale

Oven Roasted Asparagus With Mushrooms

Sautéed Broccoli with Shallots, Garlic and Lemon​

Sauteed Broccoli Rabe with Pine Nuts, Chilies and Garlic​

Green beans with Ginger, Garlic, Chili and Mint​

Steam Sautéed Ginger Green Beans​




Serves 4

Copyright 2009 by Jen Hoy

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 261
Total Fat 4 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 109 mg
Carbohydrates 45 g
Dietary Fiber 7 g
Protein 16 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)