This healthy, one-pot Indian lentil dal recipe is loaded with plant-based protein and nutrients but also super cozy, comforting, flavorful, satisfying, and cooks in under 40 minutes—ready to impress friends and family with a side of naan bread or rice!
Adjectives like cozy, creamy, and satisfying describe most of the recipes on my blog. However, one dish I turn to every time when I’m craving food that’s comforting and super satisfying but simple to make is this one-pot lentil dal recipe!
What Is Dal?
If you aren’t very familiar with Indian cuisine, dal (also spelled dahl, daal, and dhal) is not only the word for lentils but also an aromatic, creamy, comforting soup or stew-like dish starring them (or sometimes other pulses like split peas and beans). Aka lentil dal.
Not only is it loaded with flavor, but it’s inexpensive to make and packed with nutrients and wholesome ingredients. So it’s no wonder that it’s a crowd-pleasing staple in India. And while I’ve also shared a red lentil dahl, I’m focusing on a brown or green lentil dal this time.
When combined with creamy canned coconut milk, the aromatic trifecta of onion, garlic, and ginger, and lots of warming Indian spices, this Indian lentil dish is loaded with flavor while remaining gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, and super satisfying. Plus, it’s even meal-prep friendly, so get ready to make big batches!
Is Dal Healthy?
The key ingredient in this Indian dal recipe is lentils which, while super inexpensive, are loaded with plant-based protein, fiber, resistant starch, antioxidants, and several vitamins and minerals (like B vitamins and iron).
When combined with the plentiful benefits provided by ingredients like carrot, ginger, garlic, and turmeric—this lentil dal will nourish your body and soul!
In fact, you can learn more about the health benefits of curry here, ready to knock out dishes like Indian pumpkin curry, sweet potato curry, vegetable curry with coconut milk, and chickpea eggplant curry.
While this lentil dahl recipe may not be a 5-ingredient recipe, it’s made with simple, inexpensive, and largely pantry-friendly ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.
- Lentils: Use green lentils (like me) or brown lentils. Puy lentils require longer to cook, and red lentils will become mushy.
- Carrot: Alternatively, use sweet potato or butternut squash.
- Aromatics: This aromatic green lentil recipe uses garlic, onion (or shallots), and ginger for a complex flavor base.
- Chili: I use one red chili pepper for heat. However, you can reduce or omit it.
- Oil: I prefer coconut oil, but you can use a neutral oil. For an oil-free version, use a little vegetable broth.
- Seasonings: Curried dishes like this green lentil dal are as flavorful as they are, thanks to a careful selection of spices/ seasonings. For this easy dal recipe, I’ve used:
- Curry powder
- Ground coriander
- Black pepper
- Vegetable broth: Use high-quality vegetable stock (regular or reduced sodium).
- Coconut milk: Full-fat canned coconut milk (or dairy-free cream) is the key to a rich and creamy vegan lentil dal. If you can’t use it, I recommend a vegan cream, like oat cream, soy cream, etc.
What Else Could I Add To This Lentil Dal Recipe?
Indian dal is one of those dishes that changes between regions and even between households. This version is simple and great for beginners, but also a perfect base to add to and customize.
- More Spices/Seasonings: The easiest way to add complex flavors to this Indian dal recipe is with herbs and spices. Add a pinch and increase to taste.
- Garam masala
- Mustard seeds
- Curry leaf
- Sweetener: A little sugar or maple syrup will balance spice and bitterness.
- Lemon: Add a squeeze of lime/ lemon juice when serving to brighten the flavor.
- Vegetables: There are plenty of veggies you could add to this green lentil dal recipe, including
- Peas (added at end)
- Mushrooms (thinly sliced)
- Zucchini (thinly sliced)
- Tomatoes (diced)
- Bell pepper (finely chopped)
- Spinach/kale (Added in the last few minutes)
- Tarka/ Tadka: (tempered spices): Temper cumin seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, and crushed curry leaves or dried chili flaked in oil until deep and fragrant, then pour it over the lentil dal when serving.
Please read the recipe card below for the full ingredients list, measurements, complete recipe method, and nutritional information.
How to Make Lentil Dal?
- First, sort and rinse the lentils, removing any shriveled ones.
I also like to soak the lentils for 15 minutes in lukewarm water, as it makes them more easily digestible.
- Meanwhile, finely dice the carrot, onion, chili, ginger, and garlic.
- In a large saucepan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Then add the chili, ginger, garlic, and carrot. Stir and reduce the heat to low.
- Next, add all the seasonings, the lentils, and 3 cups of vegetable broth. Stir, bring to a boil, and leave it to simmer for about 15 minutes.
For even more flavor, temper the spices with a little more oil in the pan for 1 minute (until deep and fragrant) before adding the lentils and stock.
- Stir in the canned coconut milk and cook for about 10-15 minutes to thicken and slightly reduce until the lentils are tender.
Before serving, give the dal one last taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Then serve, optionally garnished with non-dairy yogurt, crispy onions, and/or fresh parsley.
What to Serve with Indian Dal?
This green lentil dal is more than capable of satisfying you with no need for a side. However, you might enjoy it with:
- Naan bread
- Roti or paratha
- Basmati rice OR quinoa
- Mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes
- Sautéed spinach
- Tofu skewers
- A simple side salad
Store: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. As a bonus, this dal tastes even better on day two!
Freeze: You can freeze the dal in one large freezer-safe container or separate it into portions for up to 3 months (best done before adding the coconut milk). Leave it to defrost in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Reheat: Use the stovetop or microwave to reheat it until warmed through. If it’s thickened, add a splash of broth or dairy-free milk.
Can I use other types of lentils to make dal?
I love making green lentil dal; these lentils are easy to cook and tender when cooked while maintaining their shape. However, you can use most types of lentils to make homemade dahl.
Just note that other lentils will require adapting the cooking time, and the texture will differ. i.e., red lentil dahl is mushier, black lentils will be firmer, etc.
Can I make lentil dahl in an Instant Pot?
Start by using the SAUTE function on your Instant Pot for steps 1-3. Then, add the spices, lentils, and just 2 cups of stock, and seal the lid. Cook it on manual HIGH pressure for 12 minutes. Once it’s ready, leave it to release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes, then vent to release the remaining pressure. Stir in the coconut milk and SAUTE for 1-2 minutes longer to thicken. Then taste, adjust, and serve!
Can I make slow-cooker green lentil dal?
While the lentils will be more tender, it is possible. Start by using the stovetop for the sauté steps. Then transfer to the crock pot, add the remaining ingredients (except the coconut milk) and cook covered on LOW for 5-6 hours, stirring the coconut milk in at the end.
Recipe Notes and Tips
- Adjust the texture: If you want a mixture of whole and mushy lentils, use a masher/immersion blender to get it to your desired consistency.
- Tweak the flavors: You can tweak the levels of all the spices, including decreasing/increasing the spice/ chili, etc.
- For maximum flavor, no extra ingredients: Temper the spices in some oil/ with the sautéed veggies until fragrant before adding the liquid to the pan. Also, browning the onions slightly and deglazing the pan will add lots of depth to the lentil dal base.
More Vegan Lentil Recipes
- Lentil moussaka
- High-protein lentil shepherd’s pie
- Lentil hummus
- Quinoa lentil burger
- 2-Ingredient lentil wraps
- Lentil salad with tahini dressing
- Lentil protein bread
- Mujadara (Lebanese lentils and rice)
If you try this easy, one-pot lentil dal recipe, I’d love a comment and ★★★★★ recipe rating below. Also, please don’t forget to tag me in re-creations on Instagram or Facebook with @elavegan and #elavegan—I love seeing them.
- 1 cup (190 g) dry green lentils (see notes)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 large (200 g) finely diced carrot (see notes)
- 3 cloves of garlic minced
- 2 tsp fresh ginger grated
- 1 red or green chili pepper (seeds removed)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 3 cups (720 ml) vegetable broth
- 1 cup (240 ml) canned coconut milk (see notes)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- First, sort and rinse the lentils, removing any shriveled ones. I also like to soak the lentils for 15 minutes in lukewarm water, as it makes them more easily digestible. Drain the water afterward.
- Meanwhile, finely dice the carrot, onion, chili, ginger, and garlic.
- In a large saucepan or pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Then add the chili, garlic, ginger, and carrot. Stir and reduce the heat to low.
- Next, add all the seasonings, the lentils, and vegetable broth. Stir, bring to a boil, and leave it to simmer for about 15 minutes.For even more flavor, temper the spices with a little more oil in the pan for 1 minute (until deep and fragrant) before adding the lentils and stock.
- Stir in the canned coconut milk and cook for about 10-15 minutes to thicken and slightly reduce until the lentils are tender. Optionally, puree 1/4-1/3 of the dal for a creamier result.
- Before serving, give the dal one last taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Then serve with rice, naan (flatbread), and garnish with parsley and optionally non-dairy yogurt. Enjoy!
- I typically use green or brown lentils, which cook in about 20-25 minutes if soaked beforehand.
- You can also use sweet potato instead of carrot.
- It's possible to use any plant-based cream (like soy cream, oat cream etc.) instead of canned coconut milk. However, in my opinion, this lentil dal tastes best with coconut milk.
- Optionally, add a squeeze of lime/ lemon juice when serving to brighten the flavor.
- Recipe serves 4. Nutrition facts are for one serving.
Nutrition information is an estimate and has been calculated automatically
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