Easy Red Lentils – Connoisseurus Veg

These red lentils are full of flavor and easy to make! Packed with spices, hearty red lentils and juicy tomatoes, it’s oh-so-comforting and perfect for a weeknight meal.

White wooden surface with bowl of dal, pot of dal and bunch of coriander leaves.

When it comes to easy dinners, lentils are always a winner in my book. It’s delicious, usually quite easy to make, and often made from panty ingredients. You may have to travel to an Indian market for some spices, but it’s worth it! Keep them on hand so you can make this easy dinner whenever a craving hits.

I have shared quite a few dal recipes on this site, but until now a simple red lentil was lacking. Split red lentils are one of the fastest cooking pulses. I even wrote an entire article on how easy it is to cook red lentils.

When used as the main ingredient in lentils, red lentils cook soft and creamy in record time.

I adapted my old dal soup recipe to make this red lentil soup, so if you’re a fan of it, I think you’ll love it. It’s thicker and heartier than soup, so it’s perfect with rice. I added extra spices to it for an added flavor punch.

Let’s talk about how it’s made!


Ingredients you will need

  • Vegetable oil. You can use any neutral high-heat oil here. Canola oil, corn oil and coconut oil are all fine choices.
  • onion
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • spices. You will need a mix of whole spices, which you should get from an Indian market, and ground spices, which you can buy in regular supermarkets. We are using whole cumin and mustard seeds along with garam masala, cumin, turmeric and red chillies.
  • Split the red lentils. Depending on the brand and where you buy them, they may be labeled as lentils. You can use whole red lentils if available, but the lentils may take a little longer to cook.
  • Water.
  • Canned tomatoes.
  • Full fat coconut milk. Use the canned variety, not the carton variety.
  • Salt.
  • Fresh coriander leaves. If you’re outside the US, you may know this as fresh coriander, if that’s not your thing, leave it out.
  • accompanying Dal is usually served with cooked rice (preferably basmati) and or naan bread (try my homemade vegan naan). I like to top mine with a drizzle of coconut milk and some roasted cashews — not necessary, but totally delicious.

How is it made?

Below is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. If you want to skip the recipe, scroll all the way down!

Cook onions and spices in a pot.

Heat oil in a pan, then add chopped onion. Sweat the onion until soft, then add the minced garlic, grated ginger and any and all of your spices. Fry everything briefly.

Water is being poured into a pot of dry red dal.

Add red lentils and water. Stir it up, raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.

Suggestion: Be careful not to burn the masala while roasting. Keep stirring, keep an eye on them and cook only briefly.

Boil red lentils and spices in a pot.

Reduce the heat and let the lentils simmer for about 20 minutes, until they are tender. Add more water to the pot if it becomes too dry, but little by little. After all, we’re not making soup.

Oven Baked Red Lentil Pot.

Stir in the tomatoes with their juice and coconut milk. Allow the mixture to simmer until the lentils break down and the mixture takes on a creamy texture.

Suggestion: The longer you cook the dal, the creamier it will be. Feel free to adjust the cooking time, cooking shorter for more distinct lentils, longer for super soft lentils.

Remove the pot from the heat and season the dal with salt to taste. Serve your red lentils with rice or vegetarian naan and garnish each bowl with some fresh cilantro. I also like to top mine with roasted cashews.

Bowl of red lentils with a bunch of cilantro in the background.

Remaining and storage

Leftover red lentils will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 3 days or in the freezer for about 3 months. Dals can easily be reheated in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stove. Add water while reheating if it becomes too thick during storage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this red lentil recipe gluten-free?

This is it!

Can I substitute a different variety of lentils, such as brown lentils or green lentils?

You can, but the texture will be different and the lentils will take considerably longer to cook – anywhere from 40 to 60 minutes before adding the tomatoes and coconut milk.

Can I make instant pot red lentils?

I’m sure you can, but I didn’t make this particular recipe in the Instant Pot. If you want to try it, read my guide to cooking red lentils for instructions.

More vegan dal recipes

Like this recipe? if so, Stop back and leave me a review and rating below if you try it! Also be sure to follow me on Facebook , Pinterest or Instagram , or subscribe to my newsletter for more recipes like this!

Red lentil bowl and rice topped with coriander and cashews.

Easy red lentils

These red lentils are full of flavor and easy to make! Packed with spices, hearty red lentils and juicy tomatoes, it’s oh-so-comforting and perfect for a weeknight meal.


  • 2
    table spoon
    vegetable oil
  • 1
    medium onion,
    to cut
  • 3
    garlic cloves,
    minced meat
  • 2
    Freshly grated ginger
  • 2
    garam masala
  • 1
    Whole cumin seeds
  • ½
  • ½
    Black mustard seeds
  • ½
    The soil is yellow
  • ¼
    or taste
  • 3
    the cup
    Plus more if needed
  • 1 ½
    the cup
    Split red lentils
  • 1
    (14 oz/400 g) can
    Square tomato
  • ½
    the cup
    Full fat coconut milk
  • 1
    For more flavor (I use 1 ½ tsp)

Optional accessories

  • Cooked basmati rice
  • Vegan Bread
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • Roasted cashews


  1. Coat the bottom of a large pot with oil and place over medium heat.

  2. Allow the oil to heat for a minute, then add the onion. Sweat the onion until it is very soft, about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.

  3. Stir in garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, ground cumin, mustard, turmeric and pepper. Fry the mixture for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, until it becomes very fragrant.

  4. Stir in water and lentils. Increase the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.

  5. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. If it is too low you can add a splash of water.

  6. Stir in tomatoes and coconut milk. Continue to simmer the dal for about 10 minutes, until it becomes thick and creamy.

  7. Remove pot from heat. Stir in the salt, adjusting the amount to your taste.

  8. Serve dal with basmati rice or naan, alternatively sprinkle fresh coriander leaves and roasted cashews over each portion.

Recipe notes

Nutritional information does not include supplements.


Easy red lentils

Amount per serving (1 cup (⅙ recipe))

calories 254
77 calories from fat

% Daily Value*

thick 8.6 grams13%

3.4 grams of saturated fat17%

Sodium 398 mg17%

potassium 444 mg13%

carbohydrates 33.3 grams11%

6.3 grams of fiber25%

2.4 grams of sugar3%

protein 13 grams26%

calcium 36 mg4%

iron 4 mg22%

* Percent Daily Value is based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Source link