Easy Red Lentil Dal

Here's a quick and easy dal recipe using red lentils which cook in less than half an hour. Dal, a spicy stew of lentils or pulses, is a staple dish in Indian cuisine. It's really healthy, low in fat and high in protein. It's great as a meal on it's own or served or as an extra dish to accompany another curry dish.

Red lentil dal is a great budget meal at a meagre 63p per serving. It's one of those dishes which tastes better when eaten the day after it's made. It freezes well and it's great for batch cooking. You can make it into a lentil soup by adding more water. If you let it simmer down and reduce it will turn into a thick lentil stew which can be served with rice or scooped up with some naan bread,

Easy Red Lentil Dal

  • Serves: 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side
  • Time: 30 minutes start to finish
  • Cost: 63p per serving (based on 4 servings)
  • Calories: 250 per serving (based on 4 servings)


  • 250g red lentils, washed very well
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed 
  • 2 - 3 red chillies, chopped 
  • Thumbsized piece of root ginger, grated 
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Place the well washed red lentils in a large pan of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20 minutes until they are well cooked and mushy. As they cook some white foam will come to the surface - skim this off with a slotted spoon as it will make your Dal taste bitter.
  2. While the red lentils are cooking, prepare the other ingredients. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the ground coriander, cumin and turmeric. Stir through the oil and cook for about 30 seconds before adding the sliced onion. Fry the onion for around 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger. Stir and cook for around a minute before adding the chopped tomatoes. Give everything a good stir, season to taste, turn the heat low and leave to simmer for around 10 - 15 minutes while the lentils finish cooking.
  3. Drain the cooked red lentils reserving the cooking water. Add the cooked red lentils to the tomato and onion mixture and give it a really good stir over a medium heat. Add a little of the cooking water from the lentils to the Dal to achieve your preferred consistency. Stir through the fresh coriander and serve with rice or naan bread.