Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl and IdlisMeandering down the aisle at Trader Joe’s I found red lentils and absolutely had to make dahl.  My mother-in-law makes wonderful dahl, so I decided to make it on my own.  I found a recipe here and decided to try it out.  The result was an aromatic, slightly spicy, and nourishing meal.  Since I have been exploring Indian cooking I had all the ingredients in my cupboard, but you should be able to find these ingredients at a bulk food store or Indian grocery store.  The asafoetida will be found at an Indian grocery store – I have never seen it in the spice aisle of larger grocery stores.  Along with the ginger, asafoetida helps with healthy digestion.

To go with the red lentil dahl are idlis, which are a steamed moist rice cake.  They can be dipped in the dahl and are very tasty.  We had red lentil dahl as a meal, but it could be accompanied by other curries.  I didn’t make the idlis myself – we had some in the freezer that Jonathan’s mom brought to Windsor for us.  In some stores I’ve seen idlis sold frozen.

I enjoy the challenge of having at least one vegetarian meal per week, so this fit in perfectly with our weekly meal planning.  Lentils are a great source of protein and the dahl was very filling.  Jonathan said that it tasted very similar to his mother’s dahl, which is a huge compliment!


  • 1½ cups red lentils, thoroughly rinsed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock ( I used chicken stock because we didn’t have vegetable stock)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (I used canned diced tomatoes, about half of a can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (if desired, I forgot to add it in and was still happy with the flavour)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1-2 green chilies, chopped (more or less depending on how spicy you want the dahl to be)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh garlic
  • ½ cup onion, finely chopped ( I forgot to add this and it still turned out well)
  • ¼ teaspoon asaefoetida (it is very strong so make sure to measure it)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Small pinch of cinnamon
  • Small pinch of ground cloves
  • Small pinch of paprika
  • Fresh chopped cilantro for serving (I don’t enjoy cilantro, but if you do, feel free to add)


1. In large stock pot add in olive oil, spices, garlic, ginger and chopped green chilies.  Turn element on to medium heat and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.  If you have an onion, cook it now with the spices.

2.  Add vegetable or chicken stock and stir well.

3.  Rinse lentils, then add to stock pot.  Add tomatoes at this time.

4.  Bring to light boil.  Then turn down the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes.  The lentils will be puffed and the dahl will be thick.

5.  Serve with idlis and fresh cilantro if you choose.

6.  Enjoy.

IdlisRed Lentil Dahl