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red lentil dahl in a bowl beside a plate of vegan naan

Red Lentil Dahl

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5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Verna
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 Servings
  • Diet: Vegan


Red Lentil Dahl is ​​a comforting and budget-friendly Indian-inspired meal that’s sure to fill you up. It’s a simple one pot recipe loaded with protein-packed lentils, warm spices and aromatics, and layers of earthy flavors. Scoop it up with vegan naan bread and enjoy!


  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry red lentils

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, or other neutral oil*

  • 2 medium-large yellow onions, diced

  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic (4-6 cloves)

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger

  • 2 teaspoons garam masala

  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (hing powder - Optional -omit for gluten free- see notes)

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes 

  • 3 and 3/4 cups water, or low sodium vegetable broth

  • 2/3 cup chopped cilantro, divided 

  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh chopped tomatoes and the juices or sub 1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes

  • 4 tablespoons canned diced green chilies

  • 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste if needed

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste

For serving (optional)

  • White or brown rice

  • Vegan naan, roti, etc..

  • Dollops of vegan yogurt or raita on the side

See notes for optional add ins and instant pot option


  1. In a large pot (I use my 4 qt dutch oven) saute the onions and oil over medium heat for about 7 minutes until softened, stirring frequently. Stir in the garlic, ginger and spices (not the salt) Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

  2. Stir in the lentils then add the water and half of the chopped cilantro. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce to a simmer (medium-low), partially cover with lid and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomatoes and green chilies and once simmering again cook for an additional 10 minutes uncovered. The lentils should be fall apart tender.

  3. Remove from heat stir in the salt, rest of the cilantro and lemon juice. Season with more salt if needed. It will thicken a little as it cools. If too thick add a splash of water or broth.

  4. Serve with brown or white rice and/or vegan naan, roti, etc,... Enjoy! For step by step photos, Tips Instant pot option and more see above post and notes* 


Add ins:

  • For coconut red lentil dahl: stir in 1/2 cup canned coconut milk when adding the tomatoes.
  • Add spinach to dahl: stir in a couple handfuls of spinach at the very end.
  • For Oil free: saute onions in water instead of oil.

Instant pot option: First follow 1st step for stovetop version (wash lentils). Use the saute function and cook the onions and oil for 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger and spices (not the salt). Press cancel then stir in the lentils, water, tomatoes, chilies and half the cilantro. Seal and lock the lid and set at high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for 5 minutes. Then release the pressure, once the pin has dropped press cancel and stir in the salt, lemon juice and rest of cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

  • Hing powder (asafoetida): most hing powders contain wheat so use a gluten free variety if needed or omit completely.
  • Store: will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days and is suitable for freezing.
  • Prep Time: 15 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian