Recipe: Creamy Red Lentils (Dal)

With no internet access at home, my blog has been neglected. Fear not though! I have been trying out different recipes and making notes so I can post things eventually.

Today I’m going to share a Red Lentil Dal recipe that I have discovered. I’ve been incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet in an effort to stretch my grocery budget. I do miss my meat though. Also, it gives me a chance to try recipes out on a small scale before I multiply them to suit the quantities needed at work.

I also want to talk about the cookbook this recipe comes from. It’s called The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide. I’ve had this book for years and while I’ve barely scratched the surface of the 300 recipes in the book, the ones I have tried all turn out fantastic!

Creamy Red Lentils (from The Everything Indian Cookbook)


  • water, approx. 4 cups
  • 1 cup split red lentils, well rinsed
  • 4 tbsps. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cumin seeds, or mustard seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin (if you don’t use the cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder


  1. In a deep pot, combine the water, 2 tbsps of the oil, the salt, and the turmeric. Bring to a boil. Add your lentils to the pot, stir occasionally, and cook until softened (about 25 minutes). If you find your lentils are getting dry, you can add a bit more water. You’re looking for something that is the consistency of a creamy soup.
  2. Once the lentils are cooked, remove the pot from the heat, and use the back of a spoon to mash them a bit more.
  3. Now it’s time to prepare the final seasoning (or tadka). In a skillet, heat the rest of the oil over medium heat. You want it good and hot! (Note: hot oil retains the flavour of spices better.) Once the oil is hot, add the whole seeds and cook until they start to pop. Then quickly add your garlic and dried seasonings and cook for about 20 seconds. Pour this aromatic oil over your lentils, stir, and serve the dal hot with rice or naan. (So far I have served mine with Turmeric Rice and Cumin-Scented Rice, both recipes from this cookbook).

A couple of notes:

  1. For the final seasoning, you can play around with the flavours. The recipe originally used cumin seeds, garlic, and chili powder. I didn’t have cumin seeds, so I used mustard seeds, garlic, ground cumin, and chili powder. You could use ginger, or curry leaves, or fenugreek. The combination of spices and herbs used will change the flavour and character of your dal. Have fun with it!
  2. A friend of mine asked if other types of lentils could be used in this recipe. And I’m inclined to say yes. I used the split red lentils called for, because that’s what I had. Just keep in mind if you use different lentils (green, yellow, etc.), that you may need to soak them. The split red ones cook up in about 20-25 minutes. But others, like whole green lentils, need to be soaked (usually overnight) before you cook with them.

Creamy Red Lentils (Dal)


This recipe serves 4 and is VERY filling. With some of the leftovers, I decided to repurpose the dal and I turned it into fritters. I thickened the mixture with a bit of cornstarch and breadcrumbs, before spooning the batter into  hot oil to deep fry. I served the fritters with a dipping sauce of yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, and chili powder. So yummy!



Red Lentil Dal Fritters with a cool yogurt dipping sauce

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