A creamy vegan dal with the vibrant flavors of lemon and coriander, made quickly and easily from red lentils. This dal comes together easily with supermarket staples… you won’t believe how fresh and flavorful such a simple recipe can turn out!
This is perfect early days of spring kinda food. We know dal as a very warming kinda food, but this is somehow super fresh on top, thanks to the addition of the lemon and cilantro. So when there’s still a tiny chill in the air, but you need to taste the sunshine in your food a little, this is where we land.
It’s actually so good, I am in conflict over whether my best easy dal recipe should still carry that name, now this dal is in the world. But actually they’re very different recipes. Where that one was rich and on the smoky side, this one is really fresh and zingy. I have to stop saying the word fresh, but it’s just the best way I know how to describe the strong citrus and cilantro (coriander) vibes.
If you’ve prepped ahead or if you use pre chopped onions, garlic and ginger, this can be ready within 30 minutes. Otherwise you’re looking at 15-20 minutes of hands on prep and cooking, and another 20 minutes of hands off time while it simmers. Not bad.
This is a red lentil based dal
Restaurant dals are often made with a majority of yellow lentils (chana dal) which are super tasty and have a great texture, however, they take a lot longer to cook and aren’t so common to have in the cupboard. So red lentils are a practical swap, and get you a very similar result.
You can swap in some yellow lentils if you prefer, but the cook time would be about an hour.
The spices can be found in the supermarket
The spices required are cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, a cardamom pod, turmeric and cinnamon. You may not always have these spices to hand, but they are readily available. You might need a larger supermarket for the likes of fenugreek seeds though.
How to Serve
For me, dal can easily be the main event with some plain rice and naan. If, however, you are looking at making this as a side dish or part of a larger spread of tasty food, I do have some suggested recipes that would pair quite nicely here.
- Vegan Portobello Mushroom Curry
- Spinach & Paneer Curry with Cherry Tomatoes
- Paneer tikka or to keep it vegan, tofu skewers
- An Indian inspired salad
- A tasty biriyani instead of plain rice
Lemon & Coconut Red Lentil Dal
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion , chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp ginger, grated or finely minced
- 1 green chili, finely chopped
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 cardamon pod, seeded
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 cup (180 g) red lentils
- 1 tsp salt
- 1.25 cups (300 ml) water
- 1 can full fat coconut milk, 14oz / 400ml sized can
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped, stems and all
- Heat the coconut oil in a pan over a low-medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and starting to brown.1 Tbsp coconut oil, 1 large onion
- Add the garlic, ginger and chili to the pan. Continue to saute until fragrant.4 cloves garlic, 2 tsp ginger, 1 green chili
- Push the ingredients to the sides of the pan and add the cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds and cardamom seeds into the middle. Allow them to toast for a few moments until fragrant, and mix them in with the onion mixture.1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, 1 cardamon pod
- Add the turmeric and cinnamon, mix through the onion mixture.1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp turmeric
- Add the lentils, salt and lemon zest (hold back the juice – this comes later).1 cup red lentils, 1 tsp salt, 1 lemon
- Pour in the can of coconut milk.1 can full fat coconut milk
- Add the water and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft (or longer if you'd prefer the lentils to break down more fully).1.25 cups water
- Finally, stir the lemon juice through the dal and add lots of cilantro (coriander) for topping.1 lemon, 1 bunch fresh cilantro (coriander)