Red lentil dal

We found this recipe on New York Times Cooking. It’s a nice simple dal.

Kelly finds this recipe very tangy, so much so that it hurts her tongue! Maybe less fresh ginger would be better.

Kelly is allergic to turmeric! If you’re not, lucky you. Add 2 tsp of turmeric when you add the lentils and other spices.

Goes great with spiced basmati rice and naan.

Makes 4 serves.

Cooking time: 45 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (try coconut oil instead!)
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 ½ cups (10 ounces, about 1 medium) finely diced sweet potato (could also use butternut squash)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Thai or bird’s-eye red chili (or up to 1 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on spice tolerance)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup canned chopped tomatoes
  • Salt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • Pieces of coconut flesh from a fresh coconut (optional)


In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, heat oil, and sauté onion until softened. Add sweet potato, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add minced ginger and garlic; stir, and reduce heat to low.

Finely dice chili, keeping seeds if you wish to add more heat. Add chili (or cayenne), lentils, coriander, cumin, and ground ginger to pan. Stir until lentils are well coated with oil. Add tomatoes and 4 cups water. Raise heat to bring to a boil, then reduce heat until mixture is at a fast simmer. Cook uncovered until lentils and potatoes are soft, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Season to taste with salt (optional), and continue to simmer until mixture has thickened, about 10 minutes. Whisk dal to amalgamate lentils and sweet potatoes. If dal is too soupy, increase heat and cook for a little longer.

To serve, place dal in a serving bowl and sprinkle with chopped cilantro. If desired, shave thin strips of fresh coconut on top. Serve hot.


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