Easy Red Lentil Dahl is a simple, Indian-inspired lentil dish that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner. This recipe can be served as a main dish, as a side or with rice.

A bowl of red lentil dahl topped with cilantro and a pink napkin on the side

One of my all-time favourite Indian dishes is lentil dahl. You might be sitting there thinking “it’s just a bowl of red lentils…what’s the big deal?”

Don’t be fooled. These aren’t just any old lentils. These red lentils are cooked up with fragrant spices and aromatics to create a flavour-packed lentil curry. Here are a few reasons why you’ll love this recipe:

Why you’ll love this recipe

  • Great intro to Indian cooking. Indian food can seem a bit intimidating to cook because many dishes have a lot of components and steps and spices. This Red Lentil Dahl is simple to make and is a great introduction to cooking Indian cusine.
  • Easy to make. All you need is one pot and one pan and just a few simple ingredients.
  • Vegan and gluten-free. Dahl is a naturally vegetarain and vegan-friendly dish and is also great to accomidate anyone who eats gluten-free.
  • Packed with protein and fibre.

What is red lentil dahl (also called masoor dal) ?

Dahl is a staple dish in India and Sri Lanka (they make Dahl with coconut milk) made from lentils that are served with Indian meals. It has a few different spelling variations (Dahl, Daal, Dal) but they are all the same thing. Dal is a term from India that is used to describe dried pulses, like red lentils, green lentils and split peas.

Red Lentil Dahl is also called Masoor Dal in India and is made with dried split red lentils. This type of lentil does not need to be soaked before cooking and will cook down to be soft and tender. The Dahl then has spices added to it to create a flavourful lentil curry dish.

Ingredients for Indian Red Lentil Dahl

Ingredients to make red lentil dahl

  • Red Lentils
  • Water
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Vegetable oil
  • Coriander seeds
  • Smoked paprika
  • Turmeric
  • Cumin
  • Pepper
  • Salt

How to make this Masoor Dal

Step 1

Rise the lentils in a strainer until the water runs clear then add the lentils to a pot with 1/2 the chopped onion. Add the water to the pot bring it to a boil. Then cover and let simmer on low for 20-30 minute until the lentils are soft.

Step 2

Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan on medium-high heat. Add the remaining chopped onion, garlic and ginger to the pan and sauté for 1 minute. Then add the turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin, black pepper and coriander seeds and mix it all together on medium heat letting the spices toast until fragrant and aromatic. Remove from heat and set aside.

Step 3

Remove the cover from the lentils and give them a mix. Then add the spices to the pot of lentils.

Step 4

Stir the spices into the pot of lentils to combine. Then add salt and mix together. Taste and adjust any seasoning if needed. If you like your Lentil Dahl spicy, you can add some chilli flakes to it for some extra heat.

What to serve with this Dahl reicpe

Lentil dahl can be enjoyed on its own, served over rice or served as a side dish. You can even serve red lentil dahl as more of a soup or stew by adding some more water or vegetable broth to it to make it thinner.

The most traditional way to serve Red Lentil Dahl is with some basmati rice or naan bread, using the rice or bread to soak up the dahl.

How to store

fridge: store any leftover dahl in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.

Freezer: Dalh is very freezer-friendly and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To freeze let the Dahl cool completely then transfer to a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. Defrost on the counter or in the microwave on defrost mode.

Tips for making this lentil dahl perfectly

  • Rinse the red lentils before using. Red lentils can sometimes have a bitter taste to them, so you want to rinse them under water until the water runs clear. This will remove any bitterness in the lentils.
  • Don’t be afraid to add spices. This is where all the great flavour comes from in this recipe. If you like some heat to your dahl, you can also add some chili flakes.
  • This dahl is even better the next day. Try making this recipe a day ahead of time. As the dahl sits in the fridge, the flavours will intesify leaving you with an even more flavourful dahl the next day.

Dalh FAQ

Is lentil dahl good for you?

Yes! Lentil dahl can be part of a healthy diet and is a great vegetarian meal option that is high in protein and fibre.

Is Lentil dahl good for weight loss?

Dahl is used in many weight loss diets because it is low in fat but high in fiber and will keep you feeling full and satisfied long after eating.

Is Dahl served hot or cold?

Dahl is usually served hot, but if you enjoy it cold you can eat it directly out of the fridge.

Is Dahl made with tomatoes?

Dahl has many different variations, some of which use tomatoes or coconut milk in the recipe. This dahl is more simple but can be modified to add in whatever you like.

More Indian-inspired recipes to try

A bowl of lentil dahl with a wood spoon in it

If you tried this Red Lentil Dahl or any other recipe on the blog let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment/rating below! Be sure to follow along on PinterestInstagram and Facebook for even more deliciousness!

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A bowl of lentil dahl with a wood spoon in it

Easy Red Lentil Dahl (Masoor Dal)

  • Author: Jessica Hoffman
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Cook
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Easy Red Lentil Dahl is healthy and simple to make for a cozy meal!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 cup (dry) red lentils
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (can sub regular paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Rinse the red lentils in a strainer until the water runs clear. This will remove any bitterness from the lentils.
  2. Add the lentils, half the chopped onion and the water to a large pot. Bring to a boil then cover and let simmer for 20-30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan on medium-high heat. Add the reaming half of the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Then lower the heat to medium and add the coriander seeds, smoked paprika, turmeric, cumin and black pepper and mix together for 1 minute. Remove from heat. 
  4. Once the lentils are cooked, add the spice mixture to the pot of lentils along with the salt and mix together to combine. Taste and adjust any seasoning if needed.
  5. Serve on its own, with rice or naan bread.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in the fridge for 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months. 
  • Don’t forget to rinse the red lentils before using. Red lentils can sometimes have a bitter taste to them, so you want to rinse them under water until the water runs clear. This will remove any bitterness in the lentils.
  • Don’t be afraid to add spices. This is where all the great flavour comes from in this recipe. If you like some heat to your dahl, you can also add some chili flakes.
  • This dahl is even better the next day. Try making this recipe a day ahead of time. As the dahl sits in the fridge, the flavo

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/6th of recipe
  • Calories: 143
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 300mg
  • Fat: 2.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.6g
  • Fiber: 10.2g
  • Protein: 8.6g

Keywords: lentil dahl, lentil dal, masoor dal