Red lentil dal

During these cold winter months I seem to always be craving comfort food.  There’s just something about a pot simmering away on the stove that makes me oh so happy.  Especially if that warm and hearty something can be sopped up with a great piece of bread.

One of my favorite comfort dishes this winter has been dal.  Dal is a traditional Indian lentil dish that is usually served over basmati rice.  The more I’ve started to learn about Dal, the more I’m beginning to understand how many variations of dal there really are.  Each region in India has its own unique way of making dal, usually varying between the types of lentils used, to the spices and cooking liquids.

Now I am certainly not a dal expert by any means.  In fact, cooking dal is something that I’ve only just started play around with this winter. However I have taken the time to play around with several different variations and I have to say, they are all delicious!

Here, I used red lentils cooked in a combination of curry powder, cumin and garam masala.  This was my first time experimenting with garam masala and I am now kind of obsessed (would be so good on chicken or lamb).  It’s a combination of cardamom, cinnamon, clove and coriander and gives such great warmth and depth to the dish.  That’s all cooled down and mellowed out by the coconut milk and lime juice.  All served over a bed of basmati rice (and of course warm naan).

The entire dish from start to finish takes no more than 30 minutes to cook and makes for insanely delicious left overs (almost even better the next day, so feel free to double up the recipe!).  A great week night meal that not only tastes great, but is healthy and nutritious.

So go get in those cozy sweat pants, break out that dutch oven, and get those lentils cooking.  I promise you’ll be happy you did.

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of grated ginger
  • ½ tsp of cumin
  • ½ tsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1½ cups of red lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups of chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk (not low fat)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 limes
  • handful of cilantro
  • salt/pepper
  • cooked basmati rice
  1. In a large dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium/low heat. Add chopped onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes until lightly browned.
  2. Add garlic and ginger and continue to cook for an additional minute.
  3. Add cumin, chili powder, curry powder, and garam masala. Gently stir to ensure vegetables are all evenly coated with the spices. Cook for one minute.
  4. Add lentils, chicken stock, coconut milk, tomatoes and salt/pepper. Bring to a low simmer and cook for 25 minutes, or until lentils are just tender (being mindful to not overcook lentils).
  5. Once lentils are cooked, recheck seasoning (adding more salt if necessary), add the juice of one lime and a handful of chopped cilantro.
  6. To serve, add a cup of basmati rice to a bowl and ladle a generous serving of dal on top. Garnish with additional lime wedge and cilantro.
  7. Enjoy!


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