This simple vegan red lentil dal is a flavorful one-pot meal that comes together in under 20 minutes. Serve with quinoa or rice, and save the leftovers for meal prep!
Whether you work full time, are a full-time student, or just have those days when life gets in the way, it can be hard to get a healthy meal on the table seven days a week. Even people who enjoy cooking don’t have time to cook every single day! Having a fully stocked freezer with meals at the ready can be a game-changer.
This vegan red lentil dal is one of the best options for those busy days when you don’t have an hour—or even half an hour!—to cook dinner from scratch. Not only is it quick, but it's also inexpensive and freezes beautifully.
Oh, and I also have to mention that dal is one of those magical recipes that tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge. Win!
What Is Dal?
Dal actually has two meanings. It's the term in India used for dried, split pulses (i.e., lentils, peas, and beans), but it also refers to a variety of soups or stews made with these pulses.
These ingredients are a staple in Indian cuisine (as well as other countries in the region, like Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka) because they are inexpensive and packed with nutrition. They're high in protein and are rich in vitamins and minerals like B, iron, and zinc.
If you enjoy my red lentil dal recipe, try this one next: Easy Chana Dal with Coconut Quinoa Flatbreads
What You’ll Need
We're using red lentils are as our base, then simmering them in coconut milk and water for extra creaminess, and spicing it up with a simple spice blend.
- Red lentils
- Full-fat or lite coconut milk – You’ll get a richer, creamier dal with full-fat coconut milk, while lite coconut milk gives you a dal with fewer calories and less fat.
- Curry powder – The variety you use is up to you! A Madras curry powder is spicier, or you can opt for a milder curry powder which has very little heat.
- Salt and pepper
What’s the Difference Between Lentils and Red Lentils?
First, brown or green lentils and red lentils have different flavors, with red lentils being more mild and other lentils having a more pronounced earthy flavor. Second, red lentils are meant to disintegrate as they cook, but other varieties of lentils stay intact. Red lentils are hulled and split, which is why they cook quickly and break up into a smooth, creamy consistency.
How to Make Red Lentil Dal
Here’s how easy it is to make this vegan red lentil dal!
Simmer the red lentils. Bring the water to a boil in a large pot or Dutch oven, then stir in the lentils and coconut milk. Return the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are tender and starting to break apart. (Unlike brown or green lentils, you want red lentils to be soft and creamy!)
Add the spices. Stir the spices into the lentils and simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve.
Dal is best served with either quinoa, rice, frozen or homemade cauliflower rice or a flatbread. (If you're going to the flatbread route, might I suggest making my quinoa pizza crust and using coconut milk instead of water?)
Meal Prep Tips
You can organize your meal prep container with the rice and dal, add in some greens and then pop it in your fridge for 3 to 4 days. You'll have lunches (or dinners) ready to go and that, my friends, is where a big batch of this will really come in handy. You can stock your freezer and your fridge!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
As mentioned above, red lentil dal will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container. You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop over medium heat; you may need to add a splash of water or coconut milk to loosen it up a bit when reheating.
Dal can be frozen in an airtight storage container or frozen flat in freezer bags, depending on the amount of space you have in your freezer. It will keep for up to 3 months; you can then either warm it up from frozen in the microwave or on the stovetop, or let it thaw in the fridge before reheating to cut down on the cooking time.
More Quick & Easy Dinner Ideas:
- Quinoa Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce
- Rainbow Vegetable Quinoa Stir Fry
- Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Boats
- One-Pot Lentils + Quinoa with Spinach
- Black Bean Quinoa Fajita Bowls
- One-Pot Mediterranean Quinoa with Spinach + Chickpeas
Easy Vegan Red Lentil Dal
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups dried red lentils
- 1 15 oz can of coconut milk, full-fat or light
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper
- Bring water to a boil, then add lentils and coconut milk. Return mixture to a boil then reduce to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, until the lentils have softened, then stir in spices and cook another 5.!
- Serve with quinoa, cauliflower rice, white/brown rice or flatbreads!