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red lentil dal with cilantro and sour cream in a bowl

Red Lentil Dal

  • Author: Allie
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Warm creamy vegan red lentil dal with coconut milk!  Perfect for a hearty, flavorful, big bowl of comfort.


  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups (400 g) dry red lentils
  • 4 1/25 cups (10651183 mL) vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces (400 mL) full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 handfuls of fresh spinach, optional
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced


With brown rice, basmati rice, or naan



Fresh chopped cilantro

Cashew lime crema or unsweetened vegan yogurt



  1. Rinse the red lentils in a colander, set aside.
  2. Mix the curry powder, cumin, turmeric, paprika, garam masala, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large soup pot or large high-sided skillet, sauté the onion and carrot, for oil-free cooking add a tablespoon of water if they start to stick.
  4. When the veggies have started to soften and the onion is translucent add the crushed garlic, ginger, and saute for about a minute.
  5. Add the mixed spices (that you set aside) to the pot, coat the veggies with them, and dry roast the spices for about 30 seconds.  Lower the heat if necessary to prevent your spices from burning.
  6. Add the vegetable broth, and use it to deglaze the pan, scraping off the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Start with 4 1/2 cups of vegetable broth if using a large soup pot and start with 5 cups of vegetable broth if using a large high-sided skillet. 
  7. Then add the lentils and salt, stir to combine, and to prevent the lentils from clumping.
  8. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.
  9. Cook covered for about 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and creamy, stirring occasionally.
  10. If the lentils are not done, cook for 5 more minutes, adding a few tablespoons more of water or vegetable broth if the curry is dry.  It should be creamy, but not dry.
  11. The time and liquid required may vary depending on what type of pot or pan you’re using.  
  12. When the lentils are done, stir in the coconut milk and spinach (if using), cook for about 5-10 minutes uncovered on low to thicken.
  13. Finish the dish with the juice of half a lemon and serve over brown rice, basmati, or naan.



Ground spices burn easily so have everything ready to go before cooking. 

I wouldn’t recommend substituting the red lentils for another kind.  Green and brown lentils hold their shape better during the cooking process and are great for salads.  Red lentils break down and become creamy, which is the consistency you’re looking for with this dish.

Older lentils may take longer to cook.

Depending on the pan used the curry may need more broth if too much liquid is evaporated.  If there is too much liquid left, simmer with the lid off for a few minutes to evaporate more liquid.

  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Vegan red lentil dal, dal with coconut milk, red lentil Dahl