Red lentil dahl is the perfect cozy weeknight meal. It’s gluten free, vegan, ready in 30 minutes and (excluding spices) requires only 10 ingredients you probably already have on hand. The perfect one pot recipe for meal prep!
This vegan lentil dahl is an easy and cozy plant based dinner that requires only 30 minutes of your time. Only ten of which will be spent actively cooking, so that’s a win in my book.
Dahl is a popular Indian dish that is similar to a thick curry or stew. It used split pulses/legumes such as lentils, beans or peas. There are so many variations to this classic dish, with various spices, veggies and more.
This is one of my favorite recipes to meal prep for the week since it’s freezer friendly and stores well in the fridge. Make a big batch of my jasmine rice and you’re good to go!
Red lentils: Because you can’t have red lentil dahl without red lentils! Red lentils are very different than other types of lentils, you cannot use black or brown lentils here as they cook very differently.
Canned Coconut milk: This is key to make the dahl creamy. I don’t recommend subbing for regular non-dairy milk, but you can use light coconut milk from a can if you want to decrease the fat content a bit.
Vegetable broth: To help cook the lentils. You can use chicken broth if you aren’t vegan or even just water if you’re in a pinch.
Red bell pepper: For a little crunch. Feel free to sub yellow or orange if that’s what you have on hand. You can omit this as well if you’re running low on fresh produce!
Yellow onion & garlic: For flavor. You can use other varieties of onion such as white or red, but I like the flavor of yellow.
Olive or coconut oil: To saute the garlic and onion.
Baby spinach and carrots: You can easily leave these out, but it adds a nice serving of veggies!
And a whole of spices!: For lots and lots of flavor. We’ll mostly be using cumin, curry powder and turmeric.
How to make red lentil dahl
This recipe is not only insanely delicious, but it’s also very easy to make! Essentially all you’ll have to do is add a bunch of ingredients to a pot and forget about it! Follow these steps for the perfect dahl:
SAUTE. Chop the onion, mince the garlic, and add to a large pot with the olive oil.
Saute for about 5-10 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add in all remaining ingredients aside from the spinach and stir. Bring the mixture to a low boil, cover, and then reduce the heat to low.
SIMMER. Let simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it’s not sticking to the bottom of your pot.
I like dahl on the thick side, so I let it cook for at least 25 minutes, if you like it a bit more soupy, 20 minutes will be fine. Just be sure to taste it and make sure the lentils are completely cooked through.
SERVE. You can also just add extra vegetable broth to thin it out and make it more soupy if you prefer. Serve as is or with fresh jasmine rice.
Make it a meal!
My favorite way to serve this red lentil dahl is over basmati or jasmine rice. You can also enjoy it as is, over steamed potatoes.
I also like to to put a little dollop of unsweetened coconut yogurt, cilantro and red pepper flakes on top.
How to store and freeze dahl
Once prepared, this recipe will keep in the fridge for 3-5 days. Let it come to room temperature and then transfer to an air tight container.
It will continue to thicken as it cools so I like to reheat it on the stove with a splash of veggie broth or unsweetened milk to help it get creamy again.
This does freeze well! Similar idea to keeping it in the fridge, just be sure to let it cool, then transfer to a freezer safe container and it will keep for about 2 months. Let it defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat on the stove.
I like to freeze it in smaller, individual containers so I don’t have to defrost the whole thing at once.
Can I make it in the instant pot?
Yes! Just use the saute function for the onion, garlic, carrots and peppers, then add everything else, seal and cook on high pressure manual for 10 minutes.
Let the steam release, then give it a good stir and serve as usual.
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Vegan Red Lentil Dahl
by: claire cary
- 1 large yellow onion
- 2 tbsp coconut or olive oil
- 4 large cloves of garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 diced red bell pepper
- 2 large carrots peeled and diced
- 1 ½ cups red lentils
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 ½ tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- Juice from 1 lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt or to taste
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes more or less to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Mince garlic and chop onion.
- Sauté in a large pot with the olive oil and fresh ginger until the onion is translucent. About 5 minutes.
- Add in the diced carrots and bell pepper and saute for an additional 5 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients (aside from spinach) and bring to a low boil.
- Cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes or until it is your desired consistency.
- Add spinach during the final few minutes of cooking to let it wilt.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
- Serve hot over rice, steamed potatoes, or enjoy as is.