Red Dal


Red Dal //

Even if I’m on a diet or trying to eat healthy, I’m always trying to find ways to incorporate carbs into my diet. I mean, I have the best intentions but it doesn’t always end well. It’s a daily struggle.

Some days I’m like, I WANNA LOOK CUTE AND BE IN SHAPE – NO BREAD! And then other days I’m like, BUT RICE AND BREAD!

It’s hard.

Red Dal //

This is somewhat of a happy medium. It’s healthy. I don’t care what anyone says but lentils are not bad for you. These are clean flavors, there is very little fat and all of the foods below are whole foods that I think anyone’s body would feel better having eaten. THIS IS MY STORY! I’m sticking to it!

Red Dal //

There’s a small chance that this recipe might be a very American. I looked at a good amount of recipes and these ingredients and ratios are what I liked best. But if you have an Indian grandmother and she just glanced at this recipe over your shoulder and told you it is b.s., she might not be wrong!

Apologies to your grandma.

However, I loved this recipe. It has flavor. It’s not very spicy (as I’ve been told dal shouldn’t be) yet the flavor punch is very present. It feels light yet filling enough for a cold January day.

Eat over rice. Or maybe even boil a few potatoes and mix them in. Whatever you do, don’t toast the naan bread like I did. Put it in the oven in between a few damp kitchen towels. Steam them. Soft naan is a gift from the gods.

Red Dal //

Red Dal

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced and divided
  • Salt
  • 1 to mato, diced
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled minced
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 3 cups water
  • Basmati rice, for serving
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Naan bread, for serving


  • In a medium saute pan, set over medium heat, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the diced onions and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt, along with the diced tomato, ground cardamom, tumeric, cumin, coriander and ginger; mix until combined. Stir often and cook until the onions have softened and the spices are really fragrant, about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic and cook for an additional minute. Transfer the onion mixture a a blender and set aside.
  • To the same medium sauté pan (no need to wash it out), add the lentils, water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduct the heat, cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked, about 15 minutes.
  • To the blender, add about 1/4 lentils (avoid the bay leaves) and pulse until smooth. Pour the onion lentil mixture into the pot with the lentils and stir. Give it a taste—it’ll need salt! I added about a few teaspoons. Know that the more salt it has, the more the other flavors will come out, so be generous, but you know, not too generous.
  • Serve the dahl over rice. If you love carbs like I do, serve it with warm naan, too. Garnish each bowl with some fresh cilantro.
Serving: 4g
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  • Reply genevieve @ gratitude & greens January 13, 2015 at 5:52 am

    I love dahl, it’s so comfy and cozy! I make myself a bowl when I’m feeling sick or just lazy. Or cold. Or looking for a hug in a bowl. This looks delicious!

  • Reply Megan @ My Bacon-Wrapped Life January 10, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    I LOVE dal and this looks amazing and so approachable! Can’t wait to try 🙂

  • Reply Liz @ Floating Kitchen January 10, 2015 at 11:59 am

    I like your story. I’ll stick with it too! This looks absolutely delicious!

  • Reply francesca January 8, 2015 at 4:29 am

    You just inspired me to make dahl and take a pottery class.

  • Reply Abby @ The Frosted Vegan January 7, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Dat bowl you made is on point gurl! I agree on the bread part, alllll the time. I just can’t not love a nice slab of naan, man!

  • Reply Christina @ The Beautiful Balance January 7, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Anyone who says lentils are bad for you are insane! This whole carb-phobia will end soon just like all the other diet fads that have come and gone. Anyway, I adore dal and anything with Indian flavors. This is perfect!

  • Reply Christina @ but i'm hungry January 7, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    A girl after my own heart… my own definition of healthy is pretty, shall we say… all-encompassing. 🙂 This looks amazing, can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply Eileen January 7, 2015 at 11:17 am

    People claim that lentils are bad for you? Who are these people? 🙂 I for one would be super excited to dip into a bowl of this creamy, spicy, satisfying dal. So good!

  • Reply Shari Kelley January 7, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I am the same way about rice and bread or no rice and bread. Always going back and forth and is a constant struggle for me, too. Only replace the rice and bread with dessert. That is what I want the most. Your lentil dish looks so tasty. I love all the spices in it. I have never made dal before, but would like to try. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • Reply Mahdis January 7, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I LOVE red dahl. I love to eat it for work lunches, its so filing and tasty. Definitely have never tried adding cardamom though!

    I was wondering- where did you get the salt and spice bowls? Also the rice bowl? I’m looking for cute pieces for my new apartment and those are so perfect!

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme January 7, 2015 at 9:50 am

      Oh I made the salt bowl in a ceramics class! The rice bowl is a bowl I picked up from a Japanese ceramics store in Venice Beach (I know not helpful). And the spice bowl is from Suite One Studio:

      • Reply Mahdis January 7, 2015 at 9:57 am

        Way to go! That salt bowl is beautiful and was honestly the first one to catch my eye!

        I may order the spice bowls and use them for salt as well but do you recommend also getting a salt cellar? I keep seeing them around but not sure if it’s just a decorative thing or if it serves a purpose for better storage.

        • Reply Adrianna Adarme January 7, 2015 at 10:04 am

          Thank you! AWW!

          I absolutely love salt cellars. In my next book there’s a DIY for salt cellars. (I know, not helpful, again!) I think they’re super helpful and I feel like Sur La Table has some nice wooden ones that are great.

          • Mahdis January 7, 2015 at 12:17 pm

            I’ll check them out 🙂 And I’m excited for your book for yet another reason, so definitely helpful!

    • Reply Mahdis January 7, 2015 at 9:54 am

      Question- do you think black cardamom could be good in the dish? I have green cardamom pods and ground green cardamom, but I have been on a black cardamom kick lately!

      • Reply Adrianna Adarme January 7, 2015 at 10:01 am

        Oh see I’m a big green cardamom pod lover. The ground cardamom I used in this recipe was black tho. Either would be lovely. Green is my favorite. The cardamom flavor in this recipe is sooo subtle. Not overpowering. So I’d maybe use one cardamom pod max.

  • Reply I Can Be Jello January 7, 2015 at 5:14 am

    This looks really great! Like the idea of adding cardamon.

    As someone who’s Indian, you can make it with even less ingredients if you don’t have everything at hand (I make this once to twice a week:) pour some vegetable oil into your pot (or you can use ghee) and a healthy palmful of either cumin seeds or mustard seeds. Once they’re toasting, add a chopped onion, a diced chili (half a jalapeno works), some peeled and chopped ginger and a few garlic cloves. Once the onion is browned, not just translucent, add some salt, and 1 and a half cups of masoor red lentils (I always use the goya brand: At this point you can also add a chopped tomato, or some chopped squash or broccoli or something to make it more hearty, but I also often make it plain. Let the lentils coat in the onion mixture, and then add 5-6 cups of water to the pan. Bring to a boil, and then let simmer until the lentils have beocme yellow and it’s absorbed most of the water. You can stir in some greens at this point too it if you want. Add some cilantro and eat with rice and indian pickle if you have it.

    • Reply Adrianna Adarme January 7, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Oh thank you for this! It’s very streamlined. Thank you for sharing!! x

      • Reply I Can Be Jello January 7, 2015 at 10:03 am

        no prob, and thanks for the fresh inspo! Will try out your version this week to switch things up a bit 🙂

  • Reply Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar January 7, 2015 at 4:25 am

    A good dahl is the best. This looks awesome!

  • Reply cori January 7, 2015 at 3:02 am

    Yum, love Dahl! I used to cook it all the time and put a lot of green peas, red potatoes and jalapeño in it. Not enough jalapeño to make it spicy though, I could never taste the spice. I think they just added flavor.

  • Reply Christie January 7, 2015 at 2:58 am

    I love red deal. I make a day with ghee that’s amazing. Deal is so hearty and tasty. Pinning!