Easy Red (Lentil) Dahl

Recipe and Photo Credit: VeggieDesserts.com

Some days I’m up for spending some time in the kitchen concoctingmaking dinner. And then some days, not only do I not want to make dinner, I don’t even feel like chewing. (Ya feel me, protein shake/smoothie-drinkers?)

I have found myself revisiting this recipe during those “I-will-lose-my-shcool-if-I-have-to-do-one-more-thing” days. Dahl (or dal or daal or dhal – gah!) means lentils, peas or other legumes that have been dried, hulled and split. It also refers to the South Asian stew using such legumes plus various spices. Red lentils are high in protein and dietary fiber as well as folate, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium. Whether you’re looking for meat alternatives due to current supply-chain deficits or just into delicious and nutritious food, this recipe fits the bill.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients fool you into thinking this recipe is challenging – most of them are spices. And as with all soups, feel free to experiment – especially if you don’t have (or like) certain ingredients. However, I’ve tried many different dahls and this one meets the author’s claim of being “the Best Red Lentil Dahl recipe!” (Nitpicker’s note: saying “lentil dahl” is like saying “chai tea”, thus the lentil in parens in the title.)


I buy my red lentils (and tomatoes and coconut milk) from Thrive Market (worthy of its own post). They are also a good source for spices.

Onions, garlic, and red chili peppers are herbal powerhouses, especially in cold/flu season. But if you’re on a low-FODMAP diet, substitute leeks for onions and omit the garlic and chili.

Unlike brown lentils, red lentils don’t need to be soaked, pre-cooked, or cooked a long time to break down.

Don’t have fresh spinach? Use frozen. Or try Swiss chard or beet greens.

Try not to skimp on the lemon! although the dahl will still be good, the lemon really makes it.

Make a double batch and freeze the rest. Wait until cooled, then freeze in airtight container up to 3 months. Dahl also keeps in the refrigerator for 5 days.


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 onions diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger peeled and grated
  • ½ finely chopped red chili (or ½ teaspoon dried chili flakes)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala TIP: If you don’t have all the whole spices, just use 3 teaspoons of garam masala instead.
  • 1 cup (200g) dried red lentils, uncooked (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 can (14oz/400ml) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can (14oz/400ml) coconut milk
  • 2 cups (500ml) vegetable broth/stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach washed


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and red chili and cook for a few minutes.
  2. Grind the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds lightly in a pestle and mortar, then add to the pan, along with the turmeric and garam masala and cook for 1 minute. 
  3. Add the lentils, tomatoes with their juice, coconut milk and broth/stock, then stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and cook on a medium/low heat for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thick. If you have time, you can leave it a little longer on a very low heat for even more flavor (just stir often and check it doesn’t scorch on the bottom of the pan). Taste and add more chili if desired. 
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and spinach until it wilts. 
  5. Serve warm with rice or naan bread (or just by itself!).

Recipe by VeggieDesserts.com