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Red Lentil Dahl Recipe

Ever since I visited Sri Lanka in 2017, I have been obsessed with perfecting my own red lentil dahl recipe.

In Sri Lanka, the main dish on the menu is rice and curry.

You order it, and get a plate of rice and about 5 or 6 different curries – and almost always, one of those curries is a dahl.

It’s since become one of my favorite, go-to recipes for a comforting, healthy, low-calorie dinner.

red lentil dahl with potatoes, roasted vegetables, cashew nuts, and mango chutney

What lentils are best for dahl?

I use red lentils for my dahl because they’re cheap and easily accessible.

However, you could also use:

  • Yellow lentils
  • Moong dahl (check the World Food aisle in the shops)

These lentils often cooker faster and go softer than the green and brown varieties, which is perfect for dahl which should have a porridge-like consistency.

What spices for red lentil dahl?

I make my dahl with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, and curry powder.

Sri Lankan curries often have curry leaves, so this is a good addition if you have them.

I find one of my favourite things about cooking curries is how versatile they are. If you want more spice, add more chillies, if you want a milder dahl, add more coconut milk and fewer chillies.

my current favourite way to serve!

What to serve with a dahl?

Of course, the traditional accompaniment to dahl is rice. You could also add another curry (like this chickpea curry, for example!), poppadoms, chutneys, or serve it with naan.

One of my current favourites is to serve it with roast potatoes, broccoli, mango chutney, and hot sauce – but it’s totally down to your own preferences.

As you can see from the photos in this post – I make this recipe A LOT, and I always mix it up and serve it with different things!

Make a big batch and add it to bliss bowls, have it on its own with poppadoms – whatever you fancy!

Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl

Yield: 4 portions
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Warming, Sri Lankan-inspired red lentil dahl that makes the perfect low-calorie, plant-based dinner.


  • 1 white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 green chilli
  • 250g dried red lentils
  • 1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 5 tbsp thick coconut milk
  • 400ml water (more as needed)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil


  1. Dice your onion, garlic, and chilli at set aside
  2. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add your coconut oil, mustard seeds and cumin seeds, and leave until the seeds start popping
  3. Add your onion, garlic, and chilli, turn down the heat and saute until the onions are translucent
  4. Add the lentils, water, and tumeric powder and cook for 15 - 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked. Add more water as required.
  5. Add your curry powder and coconut milk to the pan, stir, and cook for another 5 minutes until the dahl is thick and creamy. It should be a porridge-like consistency.


This dahl gets better over time, so make leftovers!

Did you make this recipe?

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