This coconut red lentil dahl recipe is a healthy comfort food staple that’s easy to make in less than 40 minutes.

A bowl of red lentil dahl topped with fresh cilantro.

Recipe Features

  • 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), can can be oil-free

Ingredient Notes

  • 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.


  • 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.
  • To make this recipe oil-free: Omit the coconut oil and saute the onion, garlic and ginger in water or broth.

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.

Sauteed onion and garlic in a skillet.

Step 2. Add the spices, coconut milk, lentils and broth or water. Give it a good stir to combine the ingredients.

Coconut milk being stirred with lentils and onions in a skillet with a spoon.

Step 3. Simmer over low to medium heat for 20-30 minutes until it’s thick and creamy and the lentils are tender.

A creamy red lentil dahl in a skillet with a spoon.

Serve right away topped with fresh cilantro, on its own or over rice.

A large skillet of red lentil dahl, topped with fresh cilantro.

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


Is red lentil dahl good for you?

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.

What can I use instead of coconut milk in dahl?

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.

Do you need to soak red lentils?

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.

A bowl of red lentil dahl topped with fresh cilantro.

Storing Instructions

  • 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! Scroll down to the comment section to leave a star rating and review.

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A bowl of red lentil dahl topped with fresh cilantro.

Coconut Red Lentil Dahl

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegan
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Fragrant, warming, nutritious and easy to make, this dish is perfect anytime for a satisfying and delicious meal.



  1. Cook the onions, ginger and garlic in the coconut oil for 5-10 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently until soft.
  2. Add the spices, coconut milk, lentils and water or vegetable stock.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

This recipe was originally published on August 23, 2013.