Indian Red Lentil Dal

Dal (Indian Red Lentil Curry)

If you haven’t had Indian red lentil dal before I highly recommend changing that ASAP! It’s a quick and easy meal that is satisfying, nutritious, and extremely flavorful. 

Indian red lentil dal

Dal, (also spelled daal, dahl, or dhal) is a popular Indian red lentil dish that you have to try today!

Dal Ingredients:

  • Red lentils: Daal is the Indian word for lentil. This is the brand that I use. You can find it in grocery stores down the rice and bean aisle. 
  • Vegetable or chicken broth: Cooking the lentils in the broth adds great flavor. You can use regular or low sodium, which will allow you to have greater control over the salt content. 
  • Tadka: Tadka is where all of the amazing flavors come from in dal. It is made by tempering the spices and aromatics, which intensifies their flavor. The tadka is prepared separately from the lentils and then combined at the end. 
    • To make tadka: Tadka is made by sautéeing aromatics and spices in hot oil which softens them and brings out their flavors. You can sauté using all oil or use a combination of oil and butter, which I love for the flavor and richness it adds. The aromatics used to make dal are onion, garlic, and chili peppers, which give amazing flavor and heat. The type of chili pepper you use depends on the level of spice you like. Serrano or habanero peppers give it a great kick, or to keep it milder go with seeded jalapeno peppers. The spices, including cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and salt are then added along with diced tomatoes and then sautéed for a few more minutes until the tomatoes are soft. 

How to Make Dal: 

  1. Soak or rinse the lentils until water is clear and no longer murky. Add the lentils to a pot and cover with broth. Bring the broth to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until the lentils are soft and have absorbed most of the broth. This should take about 20 minutes, but the cooking time may vary by a few minutes depending on the freshness of your lentils. 
  2. Prepare the tadka separately. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and butter until hot and melted. Add the chopped onions and chili peppers and sauté until soft. About 5 minutes. Then add the chopped garlic, diced tomato, and spices and sauté an additional minute or two. Set aside and keep over low heat until the lentils are cooked.
  3. Stir the tadka into the cooked lentils. Allow it to simmer for a few minutes before serving so the flavors can meld together. 
  4. Serve over basmati rice with a side of naan bread. 

Indian Red Lentil Dal

Indian Red Lentil Dal

Dal (Indian Red Lentil Curry)

Dal is a delicious and satisfying, healthy dish that is extremely easy to make.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: daal, dahl, dal, Indian food, red lentil dal
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 175kcal
Cost: $5


  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • ¼ cup diced chili peppers Use serrano or Habanero for spicier tadka and use Jalapeno for milder tadka
  • ½ cup diced tomato fresh or canned
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt or to taste


  • Rinse the lentils through a sieve until the water runs clear.
  • In a medium pot, add the rinsed lentils and broth. Bring to a boil, once boiling reduce to a simmer. Stir occasionally until the lentils are soft and have absorbed most of the broth.

While the lentils cook, make the tadka:

  • In a separate saucepan, heat olive oil and butter.
  • Once the butter has melted, add the chopped onions and chili peppers and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft. Add the minced garlic and diced tomatoes and sauté an additional minute.
  • Season with cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and salt.
  • Once the lentils are finished cooking, stir the tadka into the pot. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Allow the dal to simmer for a few minutes so the flavors can come together.
  • Serve with basmati rice and toasted naan bread.


Calories: 175kcal


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