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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Red Lentil Dahl (Masoor Dal)

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Ready for a delicious twist on Indian curry or stew? You have to try this Red Lentil Dal. It’s vegan, gluten free, and loaded with plant-based protein – a perfectly filling Indian meal.

red lentil dahl served in red ramekins topped with cilantro

Dal is one of my favorite one-pot meals.

Also known as masoor dal (or red lentil dahl), it is a powerhouse of nutritional goodness, thanks to the wonderful little lentil at the heart of every Indian dal recipe.

More on that in a bit, but first let’s talk about what this recipe is – and isn’t – because its sort of a hybrid between lentil stew and curry.

Latest Recipe Video!

What Is Lentil Dahl?

Lentil dahl is an Indian dish made up of lentils, spices, and vegetables. It’s traditionally paired with a grain base like rice, quinoa, or even naan as a complete meal.

It’s super easy to make, but it does require soaking the lentils overnight before cooking (or you can save time and use canned or pre-steamed lentils!).

Stories say that lentil dahl was created to make food go further. Traditionally in India, people would make dal with whatever vegetables they had in their pantry and the flavorings they had on hand at the time.

As such, Indian dal is uniquely customizable and equally as forgiving. Seriously, you can basically clean out your pantry or fridge and end up with an amazing creation!

Think of dal as similar to curry, but it isn’t as heavily spiced and instead uses a variety of seasonings like garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander powder (also called dhania), and sometimes mango powder (also known as amchoor).

Masoor Dal Benefits

With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein (by weight) of any legume or nut – surpassed only by soybeans and hemp.

Red lentils also have tons of fiber, folate, and minerals. When mixed with grains (such as rice), lentils become a complete protein dish. That means it has all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for your dietary needs.

And as an added benefit, all that protein and fiber has super satiating properties that help you stay fuller longer! 

They also taste great and have a wonderful texture 🙂

red lentil dahl served in red ramekins topped with cilantro

Are Red Lentils the Same as Masoor Dal?

Basically! Masoor is just the Hindi term for “red lentil.” And masoor dal is the name of the dish that uses red lentils as its main ingredient.

The term dal is often used to refer to a large variety of beans, peas and lentils that are boiled until soft. In this respect, it doesn’t matter what kind of lentil is used as all varieties work well. But if the recipe says “masoor” specifically, then you know it uses red lentils.

Ok, are you convinced to try this vegan dahl recipe yet? I hope so! Let’s dig in.

Red Lentil Dahl with Coconut Milk

I love red lentils because they have a sweet and nutty flavor and cook pretty quickly. This vegan red lentil dahl is a warm and comforting dish, full of those delicious aromas you’d find at your favorite Indian restaurant, and super healthy for you too!

Recipe Ingredients and Notes

red lentil dahl ingredients
  • Lentils: Red lentils are the star of this recipe! If you just can’t find red lentils, you can still make this recipe using brown or yellow lentils too – it’ll just take longer to cook and will have a slightly different flavor.
  • Onion, Garlic and Ginger: This trio is what gives this lentil dahl recipe a depth of flavor.
  • Celery: For a bit of crunch, texture and to pair with the onions.
  • Spices: You’ll need curry powder, ground coriander, garam masala, salt and crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Vegetable Stock: I typically use low sodium vegetable stock so that I can control how salty the dal is myself.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: The tomatoes bring a nice acidity to this recipe. I used canned, crushed tomatoes because they are canned when they are in season which gives them a ton of flavor.
  • Light Coconut Milk: This ingredient gives this red lentil dahl recipe a really nice creaminess without a ton of fat or calories
  • Cilantro: For a fresh, citrusy finish to the dahl!

How to Make Simple Red Lentil Dal – Step by Step

Step 1: Mix the ginger garlic, curry powder, coriander, garam masala and crushed red pepper in small bowl and set aside.

spices in a mixing bowl

Step 2: Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add your oil, onions and celery and cook on medium high heat for about 2 minutes until vegetables are fragrant and translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

onions and oil sauteeing in a pot

Step 3: Turn down heat and add the ginger, garlic and spice mix and cook on low heat for about 1 minute, allowing the spices to “bloom” until they become fragrant. Don’t rush through this step. It’s the secret to super flavorful masoor dal.

onions, celery and spices sauteeing in a pot

Step 4: Add the lentils, vegetable stock, salt, diced tomatoes and coconut milk.

tomatoes, coconut milk and lentils added to pot

Step 5: Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft. If your heat is up too high, the liquid will evaporate before the lentils are done cooking.

If that happens, just add a little bit more stock (or water, if you are using that) and continue to cook. When lentil are soft, turn off your heat and  add in your chopped cilantro. Adding cilantro at the end will keep the flavor lively and fresh.

dal cooking in a pot

Step 6: Serve as a soup, or over brown rice with some steamed veggies, or with naan or roti! I chose to have ours as a “stew” over brown rice.

red lentil dal cooking in a pot

What Makes This Red Lentil Dahl Recipe Healthy?

  • High in Fiber: Each serving of this easy lentil dahl has 14 grams of fiber! Fiber is important for healthy digestion, helps keep you fuller longer, and keeps blood sugar steady.
  • High in Plant Protein: You can totally get enough protein eating a plant-based diet! This vegan dal has 11 grams of vegan-friendly protein in each serving.
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Not only are lentils packed with protein and fiber, they are also are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Recipe FAQs

Is Red Lentil Dahl a Kid-Friendly Recipe?

Absolutely!! Thanks to it’s soft texture and warm spices, most kids will gobble up this vegan dal with no complaints. If you’re making this for young kids, I recommend leaving out the crushed red pepper since many young kids are sensitive to spice.

What Can I Serve with Dahl?

There are so many serving options for this red lentil dahl! Some of our favorites include:
1) Brown basmati rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice
2) A side salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and greens
3) With this cauliflower sabji
4) With roti or whole wheat naan

Do I have to Soak The Lentils Before Cooking?

No! That’s the great thing about red lentils – they cook up so fast you don’t need to soak them ahead of time. If you use brown or yellow lentils instead of red lentils in this recipe, soaking them ahead of time will speed up the cooking process, so I recommend doing it.

red lentil dahl served in red ramekins topped with cilantro

How to Store and Keep

Let the dahl cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the fridge, it will keep for up to 4-5 days.

You can also freeze this red lentil dahl recipe by placing the dahl in a freezer safe, airtight container. It will keep in the freezer for up to 4 months. To defrost, thaw in the fridge overnight, then warm on the stovetop or microwave.

Recipe Variations

  • Add Some Greens: I like adding baby spinach or chopped kale into this vegan dal recipe from time to time to get some more greens into our diet!
  • Try a Different Lentil: Any lentil will work in this recipe! I like making this with moong dal or chana dal as a substitute for red lentils.
  • Substitute Coconut Milk: If you don’t have coconut milk, you can try almond milk or cashew cream.

Top Tips For Making Red Lentil Dal

  • Make sure you saute the spices before adding the rest of the ingredients so they have time to “bloom” (become fragrant).
  • Rinse your lentils before cooking the dahl – this will get rid of any debris or dirt trapped in between the lentils.
  • You can use any lentils you like, just be sure to adjust the cooking time.
  • If the vegetable broth starts to evaporate before your lentils are done cooking, lower the heat and add a bit more vegetable broth or water.
  • Don’t overcook your lentils otherwise the whole dahl will become mushy!

This recipe was so filling and tasty! I promise this dal Indian food is a crowd pleaser, and it also happens to be vegan and gluten free – so it really works for anyone.

Keep in mind this recipe makes about 4 HUGE servings, so if you end up with tons of leftovers, just know that red lentil dal freezes really well – so you can always freeze and save it for another night.

Which is perfect really because I highly recommend going back for seconds!

red lentil dahl served in red ramekins topped with cilantro

Check Out These Other Delicious Indian Recipes!

Indian cuisine is one of our favorites around here, so I played around with plenty of curry, lentil, and masoor dahl recipes. Here are some of the best:

If you have tried this Red Lentil Dahl recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

red lentil dahl served in red ramekins topped with cilantro
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Red Lentil Dahl (aka Masoor Dal)

Indian Dal (also spelled Dhal or Daal) is a delicious plant-based, yet high protein meal. Warm, comforting, and aromatic, this lightened up red lentil dal contains all of your favorite Indian flavors, minus the oil and fat. Healthy and vegan friendly!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Indian, Vegan
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 249kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Mix the ginger garlic, curry powder, coriander, garam masala and crushed red pepper in small bowl and set aside.
  • Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add your oil, onions and celery and cook on medium high heat for about 2 minutes until vegetables are fragrant and translucent. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Turn down heat and add the ginger, garlic and spice mix and cook on low heat for about 1 minute, allowing the spices to “bloom” until they become fragrant. Add the lentils, vegetable stock, salt, diced tomatoes and coconut milk.
  • Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook with a lid on for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until lentils are soft. If your heat is up too high, the liquid will evaporate before the lentils are done cooking. If that happens, just add a little bit more stock (or water, if you are using that) and continue to cook. When lentil are soft, turn off your heat and add in your chopped cilantro. Adding cilantro at the end will keep the flavor lively and fresh.
  • Serve as a soup, or over brown rice with some steamed veggies, or with naan or roti! I chose to have ours as a “stew” over brown rice.

Video

https://youtu.be/wydpgMol8l4

Notes

Tips For Making The Best Red Lentil Dahl
  • Leftover dahl will keep in the fridge for about 4-5 days in an airtight container. It will also keep in the fridge for up to 4 months. 
  • Try adding some baby spinach or kale into this dal to get some more greens into your diet.
  • Rinse your lentils before cooking the dahl – this will get rid of any debris or dirt trapped in between the lentils.
  • You can use any lentils you like, just be sure to adjust the cooking time.
  • If you don’t have coconut milk, you can try almond milk or cashew cream.
Note: Nutrition Info doesn’t include rice or naan. 
 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 249kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 724mg | Potassium: 713mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 483IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 4mg

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Indian Recipes ·

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