Saturday, February 15, 2020

Heavenly, Hearty, Healthy Vegan Red Lentil Dal

I’m always on the lookout for easy lentil recipes, ones that are delicious, vegan, and retain flavor, even when leftovers are frozen, thawed, and heated for additional meals later on.

Post updated 11/24/2022

Lentils are an important staple in South Asian cuisines, especially in India. Masoor dal is a tiny red/orange lentil that doesn’t require pre-soaking, cooks  quickly. I used that variety for my recipe. 

Dal (also spelled dhal, daal, dahl) is a term to describe a split pulse(legume, pea, or bean dish) on the Indian subcontinent. Dal stars in both stew or soup recipes. 

I studied many red lentil dal recipes, but didn't find one that fit me to a T, so I created my own. 

This dish is very adaptable. You may add additional veggies including red pepper, zucchini, or ones you have on hand. When including optional ingredients, add a few extra minutes of cook time.

Make the soup version by adding extra vegetable broth or coconut milk to the liquid amounts specified in the ingredient list below.

Preparation details and food facts are shared along the way, because I'd like you to see how easy and nutritious it is to serve this yummy lentil dish for a meatless Monday main course, mid-week lunch or dinner, or as company faire. 

Want to know what I mean?

Heavenly, Hearty, Healthy Vegan Red Lentil Dal is...

Creamy-cooking the lentils in coconut milk and vegetable broth makes them sweet without sugar. These ingredients add  richness, good taste, and important nutrients.

Colorful-red lentils look orange and turn golden yellow as they cook. Vegetables and seasoning including carrots, celery, onion, and cilantro or parsley adds other hues, and make this meal antioxidant rich and attractive.

Comforting-there's something magical about lentils that makes them seem so comforting and homey. 

Nutrient-rich-every ingredient in this recipe has health benefits, and the links in this post provide detailed health information about several. 

Cholesterol free- this is a whole food plant-based recipe, and  each ingredient used has no cholesterol.

Filling-lentils are an excellent source of vegetable protein, calcium, folic acid, and potassium, as well as being cost effective. Lentils are naturally fat free and fit in with a vegetarian, vegan, and conventional eating plans.

Eating a serving of lentil dal with brown rice or other whole grain is a healthy way to satisfy even the most robust appetites.

Gluten Free-more and more people have developed an intolerance or allergy to gluten. This recipe doesn't cause that "too stuffed feeling" or other adverse reaction.

Heavenly-from the first spoon or fork-full to the last, notice how the spices and herbs meld together and energize the delicious flavors of this dish. 

Fiber packed-one cup of cooked lentils has high fiber/approximately 15.6 grams per serving. Fiber is associated with lower blood cholesterol levels and protection against cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and Type 2 diabetes.

Easy to prepare-dried lentils and canned coconut milk are readily available in most markets or online. Stock ingredients in your home pantry, and make prep time a snap. 

Whole food-the human body runs most efficiently on food that is in its natural form, or very close to it. Research shows that eating meals that consist of plant-based whole foods is a sound way to get the fuel (food) you need to be high functioning and feel vitally alive. 

Recipe for Heavenly Hearty Healthy Vegan Red Lentil Dal


2 ½ cups dried red lentils 
1-2 inch knob of fresh ginger grated
1 14 oz. can unsweetened light coconut milk
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or 1-2 red chili peppers chopped, or 1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (if you prefer, use regular paprika)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped coriander
3-4 carrots
3-4 stalks celery (include leaves) chopped
1 large onion chopped
4-6 garlic cloves grated
6 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth (add 2 or 3 more cups of liquid when making the soup version)
juice from one fresh squeezed lemon or lime
sprig of fresh cilantro, parsley, or even celery leaves for garnish

Optional Ingredients: ½ cup mushrooms, 1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes, and Yukon gold or other diced potatoes.

Note: I purchase organic when it's available, because it's important that food comes from a source that hasn't been genetically modified. My research and experience shows organic food has higher nutrient value and tastes better too. A local health food store and farmers’ market are good places to find organic products.

What to do:

1. Place dry lentils in a colander and rinse in cool water. Pick out any debris, and rinse again. Set aside.

2. Peel and chop onion and grate garlic and ginger. Then clean and chop celery and carrots (no need to peel carrots). Skin is where a lot of the nutrients are). Set aside.

3. Heat two drops of water or 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and ginger, and cook for 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the cumin, turmeric, coriander, paprika, chili or chili powder. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Be mindful about personal spice preferences. Feel free to make adjustments and cater the spice level to satisfy the taste buds of your mates and you.

4. Add lentils and chopped veggies. Add broth, coconut milk, and bay leaves and cook on low-medium heat, partially covered, until tender. That process will take 20-30 minutes. 

Note: Cook time varies, and is affected by how long the dried lentils have been sitting on the shelf, your elevation, how much liquid you add, how small you chop your veggies, and whether you’re using tomatoes. The acid in tomatoes slows down the cooking process. Increase cook time by at least 15 minutes, when using tomatoes. Optional veggies need to be added, when you add other veggies.

5. Stir mixture two or three times during the cook time to prevent sticking or boiling over.  

6. Test for flavor by sampling a spoonful of dal. Dal is ready when lentils and veggies are soft and creamy. To finish this dish, turn off flame, pour on lemon or lime juice, dish out, and garnish with chopped greens. Serve hot.

Serving suggestion: Combine with one of the following: brown basmati or other brown rice, roasted veggies, quinoa, sweet potatoes, or a fresh type of Indian bread that's vegan. This recipe serves 4 hungry people. Extra portions freeze well, and keep for up to 3-4 months.  

Red Lentil Dal with roasted red pepper, celery, red cabbage, red onion, yellow squash

Please comment below and/or reshare with a link back to this post. 

Your interest and attention means the world to me.

I hope my post has inspired you to add this whole-food plant based recipe to your cooking repertoire. Remember it's Heavenly, Hearty, and Healthy!

Wishing you a wonderful Repast and...

This post has been shared at A Themed Linkup 40 for Soup Recipes

I am thrilled and honored that this post is FEATURED at #AThemedLinkup 14 for Spring Crafts and Décor by Dee Blanding of Grammy's Grid. 

This post has been shared at a-themed-linkup-28-for-soup-recipes

This post has been shared at a-themed-linkup-13-for-vegan-recipes

This post has been shared at A Pinch Of Joy Busy Monday 404

This post has been shared at Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads


  1. This recipe sounds delicious, Nancy. I may try it using regular lentils that I have on hand.

    1. Sure that would be fine Debbie. I've made the recipe with green/brown lentils and needed to pre-soak lentils to make it cook as fast. Have a beautiful weekend and be well.

  2. Nancy,
    I like red lentils and I do make a dal occasionally. Glad to have a new recipe.

    1. Hi Judee, So nice for you to come by. Let me know how you like the recipe, when you try it out. Have a beautiful week and be well.

  3. You're so clever coming up with your own recipe!! I am not good at doing that kind of thing. I am definitely a recipe follower.

    1. How sweet of you to write to me. If and when you make my recipe, please let me know how it goes. Have a lovely day and be well.

  4. We eat beans or legumes on a regular basis and I'm always looking for new ideas. This looks really good with the curry flavors.

    1. Thanks Beth for the comment and hosting Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads. It's a fun blog party, and I appreciate you. Have a beautiful week and be well.

  5. Red lentil dal is one of my favourite dishes.

    1. Know what you mean about red lentil dal Shaheen. Thanks for dropping by. Have a great week and be well.

  6. Haven't tried dal, but sounds delicious with all the aromatic spices. It's a very creative recipe Nan.

    1. Thanks so much for the visit and comment Beth. Sure hope you give this recipe a try. Let me know if you do, and have a beautiful day.

  7. Sounds absolutely delicious! I love cooking with coconut milk. Pinned.

    1. Thanks so much Shannon for the comment and pin. Appreciate your support and wish you a wonderful day.

  8. Sounds good! Thanks so much for linking up with me at #AThemedLinkup 13 for Vegan Recipes, open March 15 to 25. All entries shared on social media if share buttons installed. My Unlimited Monthly Party 10 is open March 1 to 26 if you’d like to link up for more views and shares. My party Bottle – 65 Words Writing Prompt Linkup is open March 10 to 20, won’t you join me for fun and creativity?

  9. CONGRATS! Your post is FEATURED at #AThemedLinkup 14 for Spring Crafts and Decor from my previous linkup for Vegan Recipes, open March 29 to April 10.

  10. Thanks so much for linking up with me at #AThemedLinkup 28 for Soup Recipes, open until September 27.

    1. Hi Dee, I love soup and thank you for hosting! Now that the weather is cooling down, it's a wonderful time to add a few new soup recipes to my collection from A Themed Linkup 28 for Soup Recipes.

  11. I am a simple American girl who found red lentils in a Turkish market years ago. I keep them around to make easy cold salads. Now , I'm excited to try this soup. It has all the ingredients I love although I have never made soup with coconut milk. Wish me luck. Found your recipe at the Themed Link Up that was posted at Funtastic Friday Link Up.

    1. Happy to know you're going to try this. Good luck and let me know how it goes. You are so right. Lentils are great in cold salads. Thanks for reminding me.

  12. Visiting again to say thanks so much for linking up with me at #AThemedLinkup 40 for Soup Recipes, open until January 27. Shared on social media.

    1. Appreciate the support and thanks again for hosting. Be well and happy.