top down view of red lentil dahl in a cast iron pot with items surrounding.

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 12 reviews

This easy red lentil dal is prepared with tomatoes, onion, garlic, ginger and a combination of Indian spices like turmeric, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and cayenne. Quick, easy and perfect for a healthy weeknight meal!


  • 1 cup red lentils (if using green/brown, see notes)
  • 4 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 23 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 inch knob ginger (about 2 tablespoons), minced
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced or 1 can (14oz) diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 1 heaping teaspoon EACH cumin, coriander + turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/41/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt, to taste


Saute: In dutch oven or pot, heat oil over medium heat, add onions and saute until onions are translucent, about 5 – 7 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic and ginger, and cook 5 minutes, or until tomatoes start to break down.

Simmer: Add the lentils, liquids, and dry spices, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer at a gentle rolling boil for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, not mushy. Dal will thicken upon standing, add more liquids as needed.

Serve: Ladle into individual serving bowls as is. Or serve over a bed of arugula, white rice, brown rice, or this Cilantro Lime Rice. Top with a squeeze of lemon for brightness. It pairs great with a side of homemade Vegan Naan.

Serves 6

Store: Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 – 6 days, in a covered container.


I happen to love this with fresh greens, it adds so much freshness to the dish. Even if you serve this with a grain, fresh arugula or cilantro will do wonders.

If you happen to not have a spice or two you will still have a flavorful dish. Adjust ingredients to suit your taste.

Not a fan of spicy, feel free to omit the cayenne. It will still be delish!

I would really stick with red lentils, but you prefer green or brown lentils, cook about 45 minutes, or until tender.

If two medium onions are too much onion for you, one will do fine.