Red Lentil Dahl

One of my favourite dishes to cook at this time of year is red lentil dahl — a warming, nutrient-packed dish that is perfect after a run. Dahl is a flavour-packed dish found in Nepali, Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine. It’s made from various types of lentils that are split and reduced to a mushy consistency and then have various spices and vegetables added in.

Lentils are one of those wonderful foods that are great to cook with, but can be kind of daunting at first. They’re packed full of protein, iron, dietary fibre, folate, B1 and various minerals. Served with rice, lentils make a complete protein (meaning together, they contains all of the essential amino acids required by humans dietary needs), which is convenient, because dahl is best served over basmati rice!

The following is a family recipe gifted to me by a close friend, and is Marathi in origin. I reduced the amount of oil called for (the original was four to five tablespoons), and as presented, it is of a medium spice, but can be made more or less hot by adjusting the chili powder accordingly.

Red Lentil Dahl
Serves 4


  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Rinse lentils under cool water until water runs clear. Place water or broth into a large saucepan and bring to a boil before adding the rinsed lentils.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to simmer the lentils until they resumble a thick paste.
  3. While the lentils are simmering, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion, garlic and ginger, sautéing until soft.
  4. Add the curry powder, red chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper to the onion mixture and continue to sauté for an additional two to three minutes.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and continue to sauté for another three to five minutes.
  6. Add the contents of the frying pan to the lentil paste, stirring until thoroughly mixed.
  7. Cook the combined mixture for another 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture resembles a thick stew.
  8. Serve over basmati rice, with roti.

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