Easy Red Lentil Dhal Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Easy Red Lentil Dhal

45 reviews / 4.7 average

I know, I know.

I just made lentils, like, last week.

Here’s what actually happened. This lentil dhal recipe happened accidentally while I was trying to make the squash lentil curry, so it was like two for the price of one! I’ve always been a sucker for time savers and extra food.

I bought red lentils, thinking they would look better in my squash lentil curry. First mistake: squash lentil curry is just meant to look a certain way and there’s nothing you can do about that.

Red lentil dhal with rice on a white plate.

Second mistake: red lentils are not the same as brown lentils.

What are these little red treasures, and why I am just trying them now? Technically they were French (thank you, random Filipino imports) because they were called lentilles corale. Is that French? I renamed them dhal because that’s their Indian name and I like to make things into curry. I don’t know, I just mostly Wikipedia stuff.

Red lentil dhal with rice on a white plate.

These little lentils are split, so they are teeny tiny compared to the regular old brown lentil, which means they cook SUPER FAST, which means you get to eat sooner. #win

Unlike brown lentils, these red lentils cook almost effortlessly into something like a soup or sauce. So instead of trying to make them into squash lentil curry, I started adding some yummy things to them so that I could eat them. Immediately.

Coconut milk. Curry paste. Spices.

Red lentil dhal with rice in a clear container.

HELLO. They were so, so good and they probably took me fifteen minutes to make from start to finish. Bjork and I both had a heaping scoop over rice, twice, for three days in a row.

Spicy. Healthy. Cozy. Portable. Best ever.

Lentils for life, yo.

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A picture of Easy Red Lentil Dhal

Easy Red Lentil Dhal


This easy red lentil dhal (or dahl, or dal) is flavored with curry paste and coconut milk. Incredibly simple and so delicious.


Units Scale
  • 2 1/2 cups red or pink lentils
  • 56 cups of water (a large pot half full)
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • lime juice
  • green herbs for garnish (I used malunggay leaves – you could use cilantro, green onions, etc.)


  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot.
  2. Add lentils and cook uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning on the bottom. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients until completely incorporated. Season with additional salt and herbs for garnish.


Makes six 1 cup servings.

  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 10 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: red lentil dhal, lentil dhal, easy dhal recipe

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  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    “Coconut milk. Curry paste. Spices.” I feel like this is a winning combination no matter what else is involved!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      If you use a rice cooker ever at home, it can also be used oh-so-happily to make the other types of lentils that usually take quite a bit more time and supervision!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Awesome tip Marie! I’d never thought about using my rice cooker for lentils. You rock!!

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    OMG. I have been SO into lentils lately. This is another awesome recipe – Thanks!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This is exactly the red lentil recipe I’ve been looking for! — and you’re right, ‘lentilles corail’ is French for red lentils!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        As a Canadian scrolling through the comments before making the recipe, I thought, “Wait. They don’t have cilantro in Minnesota?!”

        2012. Oops!

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I have used dhal, alongside with hommus, avocado etc as a first-base cover for toast, wraps etc literally forever! This, with its coconut milk and curry paste [one which I always make myself] is a wee more complicated, but engaging!! Shall try 🙂 !

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I ate at Taste of India and almost ordered palakalu, just so I could tell you about how much I love it and how I’m now a palakalu convert and why didn’t I try this sooner… and then the waiter showed up at the tables edge and what came out of my mouth was, “I am starving. I need chicken curry, chicken josh, garlic naan and regular naan right now!” So much for straying from the beaten path…

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    LOVE lentils. Agh and I pinned your other recipes for curry lentils but now I want to make this one and which one am I supposed to choose?? This one is easier so maybe I’ll go with that 🙂 Major win in my book heehee

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I love dhal – it’s such a simple yet great comfort food. I most especially the tarka dhal variant (or referred to as tadka dhal) which, living in England, I get to sample regularly at various Indian restaurants. It’s a North India dish which uses chana dhal (aka Bengal gram dal, a bit like yellow split peas) & masur dal (aka red lentils) along with garlic and other spices. It’s amazing how much variation there is in this British Indian restaurant dish and I always order it as something of a benchmark dish in order to assess how good the restaurant is. Done well its rich roasted garlic flavour partners the lentils perfectly and having it with a roti or nann bread makes for a great combination.

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this recipe this past weekend because I had a package of red lentils in my cupboard, and I had been looking for a good, easy recipe for a red lentil-based curry or stew. I was intimidated by many of the dal recipes I had come across, which often involve frying a bunch of exotic spices in hot oil. Anyway, I loved how easily this recipe came together with spices I already had. I ate it over rice, and it tasted really great! Even my husband, who was raised on meat and potatoes and is highly suspicious of anything containing a legume, absolutely loved it!

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    i thought the dhal was going to be amazing, but i found that it didn’t have much flavor. i ended up adding a lot of extra spices and hot sauce to make it more appetizing. maybe it was because of the curry paste i used?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      This sounds absolutely delicious! I couldn’t find red lentils, though. Do you think regular lentils will work instead?

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Found your website thanks to Pinterest and can’t wait to try out your yummy recipes! The lentils look especially delicious – the only problem is I can’t eat/drink coconut stuff. Any substitutions for coconut milk? Thanks!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this last night for dinner Linds, and it is absolutely delish! I am currently enjoying leftovers at my desk at work!! Thank you a million times again for this delectable meal! (Matt liked it too, and he can sometimes be picky!!) #win as you would say!! XOXO Miss you!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I used 3T of Trader Joe’s Thai Red Curry Sauce and lowered the coconut milk down to 1/4 cup, and it was fantastic! One of those recipes that only gets better after sitting in the fridge for a day or two.

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this recently and my husband and I both loved it. I followed the recipe exactly. It didn’t say how much lime juice, so I served each bowl with a slice of lime and we squeezed it over the top before eating. The fresh squeeze of lime was very complimentary to the curry. A perfect combination of flavors. We ate ours with garlic naan. So good. Very flavorful.

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks so good! I have everything needed to make it except red lentils. I have brown. Can these be used? If so, how would I adjust the cooking time? I don’t use lentils that often (obviously) and was gifted a TON of them so I am trying to find yummy ways to use them.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I wouldn’t. Usually I’m all for substitutions but as I found out, brown lentils are really different from red lentils. Red lentils cook into a much more soupy consistency which works well in this this recipe. I don’t know how the brown lentils would go with this one. :/ but I have made several other lentil curries that worked well with brown lentils, like this one: https://pinchofyum.com/red-curry-lentils. Good luck!