Coconut Red Lentil Dahl
This 5-star coconut red lentil dahl recipe is a healthy comfort food staple. The best part about it? It’s easy to make in under 40 minutes with just a few simple ingredients, making it perfect for any night of the week.
- quick and easy – minutes of prep, minimal ingredients, 1 pot, 30 minutes of cooking time
- perfect for meal prep – keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days or can be frozen
- 5-star reviewed – this popular recipe has hundreds of 5-star reviews!
- dietary needs – this recipe is vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free (contains coconut milk though), can can be oil-free
- onion – use 2 small to medium-sized yellow or white onions
- garlic and ginger – key for the flavour base!
- spices – you’ll need curry powder, turmeric, coriander, salt and pepper, the red pepper flakes can be omitted if sensitive to spice
- lentils – this recipe uses dry red lentils
- coconut milk – for extra creamy dahl, use full-fat coconut milk, for a lower-fat but still delicious dahl, use light coconut milk
- vegetable broth – I like cooking the dahl in broth for extra flavour but water works too if you’re in a pinch
Complete list of ingredients and amounts is located in the recipe card.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1. Cook the onions, garlic and ginger in the coconut oil for 6-7 minutes over medium heat, stirring often.
Step 2. Add the spices, coconut milk, lentils and broth or water. Give it a good stir to combine the ingredients.
Step 3. Simmer over low to medium heat for 20-30 minutes until it’s thick and creamy and the lentils are tender.
Serve right away topped with fresh cilantro, on its own or over rice.
Notes and Tips
- Add Greens: You can stir in a couple handfuls of fresh spinach at the end for added nutrition.
- More Veggies: If you want to add additional veggies, I’d recommend adding diced carrots, cauliflower or bell peppers at the same time as the onions
- Heat: Omit or reduce the red pepper flakes if you’re sensitive to spice, or feel free to add a little more if you really want some kick! One diced jalapeno (deseeded) or cayenne pepper work as an alternative to red chili flakes.
- Meal Prep: The flavours only improve the next day so this is a great dish to make in advance!
- To make this recipe oil-free: Omit the coconut oil and saute the onion, garlic and ginger in water or broth.
How to Serve Lentil Dahl
Dahl is wonderful served on its own but it can also be served:
- with fresh pita or naan bread
- over jasmine, basmati or brown rice
- over quinoa
- with cooked veggies or a handful of fresh greens on the side
- with baked tofu, chickpeas or tempeh
Yes! Red lentils are rich in fibre, plant-based protein, iron and other micronutrients.
To make this recipe lower in fat and calories, use light coconut milk.
You can use any non-dairy milk such as unsweetened almond milk or cashew milk. You can also make a quick cashew cream like in this vegan butter tofu recipe.
Red lentils have a quick cooking time so they do not need to be soaked. You can give them a quick rinse in cold water before adding to the recipe to remove any debris, if you like.
- Fridge: Let it cool then store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The flavours only improve with time! Reheat stovetop or in the microwave.
- Freezer: Let it cool then store in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge then reheat stovetop or in the microwave as needed.
Did you try this recipe?
I’d love to hear about it! Click here to leave a review and be sure to tag me @runningonrealfood if you post it on social media.
Coconut Red Lentil Dahl
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 30 mins
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 6
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegan
Fragrant, warming, nutritious and easy to make, this dish is perfect anytime for a satisfying and delicious meal.
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced (600 g, approx. 4 cups)
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled, minced
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cups (375 g) dry red lentils
- 1 can coconut milk (full-fat or light)
- 3 cups water or vegetable stock
- fresh cilantro for serving
- cooked jasmine, basmati or brown rice, for serving (optional)
- Cook the onions, ginger and garlic in the coconut oil for 5-10 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently until soft.
- Add the spices, coconut milk, lentils and water or vegetable stock.
- Bring to a light simmer over low to medium heat and cook for 25-30 minutes, uncovered, until lentils are soft and it has thickened up.
- Remove from heat and serve topped with fresh cilantro over brown rice, quinoa, or on its own.
Broth or Water: You can use both with good results but the broth adds a bit more flavour to the final dish.
Coconut Milk: Both light and full-fat coconut milk work well. Full-fat will result in an extra creamy dahl, light coconut milk is great for a lower-fat option that’s still delicious.
Storage: Let cool then store in a sealable container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat as needed stovetop or in the microwave.
Spiciness: Omit or reduce the amount of red pepper flakes if you’re sensitive to spice.
- Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
- Calories: 330
- Fat: 7 g
- Carbohydrates: 49 g
- Protein: 19 g
Keywords: coconut red lentil dahl, best red lentil dahl
Update Note: This recipe was originally published on August 23, 2013.
Yes have made this dish many times Love it, also popular with others, like spinach added….also very easy to make.
I used to love your recipes and your site. Forcing me to give my data and download an app to access your content simply isn’t worth it. I’ll miss your recipes, but not enough to be sttong-armed into a subscription.
Thanks for the feedback, Kat. Just 4 recipes out of over 800 are exclusive for subscribers only and it’s free to join. You don’t need to download an app though. I’m sorry you don’t feel my recipes are worth it. I hope you can still enjoy the hundreds of other recipes I create and share for free.
Total winner for us. Been using this recipe for a couple of years now. I leave out the chilli flakes but otherwise follow the recipe exactly and the kids absolutely demolish bowls of it. One of their favourite dinners. It makes enough for a few portions of leftovers too.
I made this tonight and it is a new favorite. Seems like comfort food to me.. I added carrots and a pinch each of fenugreek and asoefetida, and went with lite coconut milk. I plan to freeze some to take on my next camping trip.
Thank you, Pam! I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I think it would be a perfect camping meal!
I made this recipe for dinner yesterday. Unbeliavable! It turned out delicious! I cannot wait to do it again and to vary the type of lentils used. But will be doing this exact recipe many times in my future!!
Thanks so much for this!
You’re welcome! I’m so glad you loved it.
How do I make this in one pot?
Hi! I’m sorry, I’m not sure I understand the question. The recipe is made in one pot on the stovetop. Thanks!
I absolutely love this recipe. I’ve made it a few times but this time I took Deryn’s suggestion to add red pepper in with the onions, and I added extra ginger because I love ginger. I also snuck in some garam masala (approx 1/2Tbsp) because I was craving that sweetness with my spice. What a versatile recipe! Thanks Deryn!
I love this recipe! Since making it the first time, it is now high rotation on my dinner menu. The only change I make is that I like to add small pieces of pumpkin so that I feel like I’m eating a vegetable, and slightly bump up the garlic, ginger and salt. So easy and delicious, thank you!!!
Sounds great with those additions! Glad you enjoy the recipe.
wow great flavours !!! I added some toasted coconut for serving with the cilantro . I also for my preference only, added a tsp of tomato paste i had in the fridge hoping to use up . But thankyou its wonderful and fast and warms the soul xo
Been cooking various versions of Dahl for years, but this is the best by far. In fact I use it to show my meat eating friends that vege/vegan food can be yummy, nutritious and filling. Sometimes I add extra stock and chunks of veges like carrots, zucchini and peas to make a delicious thick and creamy curry. Thank you!
So glad you love it! Thanks for letting me know.
Tried this recipe with roasted vegetables, very nice.
2 Medium onions diced is nothing like 600g, is that a typo? just about to start the recipe.
It’s not a typo. It was 600 g for the onions I used but it doesn’t have to be exact. Any 2 diced onions is fine! Thanks.
So easy and tastes great. Best dahl recipe. I reduce the lentils to 1 cup for a thinner dahl.
The ONLY reason I didn’t give this 5 stars is because my attempt came out a bit less “saucy” than I was hoping. I tried to follow it to the tee and will DEFINITELY be making it many more times even if I can’t figure out my personal preference, but what advice would you give me to get a little sauce in this recipe without sacrificing its AMAZING flavor by “just adding water”? This is definitely a 5 star recipe though! AMAZING FLAVOR!!!!!
I guess you could use slightly less lentils and/or a bit more coconut milk. Glad you liked it!
Absolutely delicious and super easy to make. The combination of flavours were great. Will definitely be making this again.Thanks for the recipe 🥰
Super easy, very delicious one pot meal. Definitely adding to my regular meal rotation!
I’ve been seeking an easy yet delicious and nutritious red lentil curry recipe and this hits the spot!! The flavours are amazing and it was all cooked in the one pot – weeknight dinners done! Definitely becoming a staple in our household
Glad you enjoyed it!
I love this recipe. I was looking for something tasty that I could eat while on a cleanse. This fit the bill, but was a lot tastier than I had hoped for, so it is now a regular in our meal roster. Lovely flavours.
So glad you loved it!
I am looking at making this as I transition to a plant based diet. With the coconnut milk, if I was to substitute this with almond milk, what is the quantity I will need (as the recipe just says 1 can)?
Looking forward to trying this soon.
Made this for meal prep lunches this week and it’s just so, so good. Served over brown rice, with cilantro.
This dish was so delicious and easy to prepare at the end of a busy day. It is light on the pocketbook but heavy on the flavor! It also makes enough to feed a big family or it provides leftovers. Will definitely prepare again and again!
this looks delicious! Is there anything I could substitute for the coconut milk? Almond milk? Or more vegetable stock?
Coconut milk is ideal here but you could use cashew cream, or yes, almond milk or more stock. Thanks!