There are countless ways to prepare dahl and this Sri Lankan Dhal Curry is inspired directly from my experience in Sri Lanka. I ate dhal almost every day when I was there. Dhal is an umbrella term used for lentils beans and peas. Red lentils are most commonly used to make dhal but you can make it with red, green, brown, or black lentils. My favorite is Mung Dhal, split mung beans. I love them because they are easy to digest and don’t create gas.
Red lentils are available in most health food stores. Mung Dhal aka Moong Dhal is available in Indian grocery stores or online. Lentils are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Read my full article about lentils here
Start by gathering up all your spices.
I use turmeric, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. If you don’t have fenugreek seeds don’t worry the dhal will be fine without them. I like their slightly bitter taste. In Sri Lanka, they use curry leave and they are fabulous if you can find them. I made my dhal without them.
It is good to soak the dhal (lentils or beans) for at least 2 hours or overnight for easier digestion but you can make it without soaking.
In a medium saucepan, heat water and red lentils along with the turmeric. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until just cooked, about 30 minutes for red lentils, 45 minutes for the moong dhal. Skim off and discard any foam that rises
Add coconut milk.
While the dhal is cooking prepare the hot oil spice blend known as Tarka. It is made by simmering the spices in hot coconut oil in a skillet.
Add curry leaves (if using) and green chilies along with sliced onions and salt.
Sauté for 5 minutes on low heat until the onion are soft.
Add tomatoes (if using ) and sauté 2 minutes. In Sri Lanka they often put tomatoes into their dhal but it is optional.
Add onions and spices to the cooked lentils.
Mix all together and taste to adjust salt. Enjoy!
Here I served the Dhal with Spicy Roasted Cauliflower and spinach sautéed in coconut oil with garlic.
Here is a version I made with the same recipe but with Moong Dhal.Print
- 1 cup masoor dhal (red lentils) or moong dhal (split mung beans) preferable soaked
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 3 1/2 cups water
- ½ cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 2 curry leaves (optional)
- ½ medium red onion sliced
- 1–2 green chilies, sliced (Serrano chiles are good)
- 1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 1 tomato chopped (optional)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Rinse the lentils.
- Heat water and lentils along with the turmeric. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until just cooked, 30-45 minutes. Skim off and discard any foam that rises.
- Add coconut milk.
- While the lentils are cooking, heat oil in a saute pan until shimmering.
- Add mustard seeds, once they start to pop add the cumin and fenugreek seeds and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add sliced onions, curry leaves (if using), green chilies and salt.
- Sauté for 5 minutes on low heat until the onions are soft.
- Add tomatoes (if using) and sauté 2 minutes.
- Add cooked onions and spices to cooked lentils.
- Mix all together, add lime juice.
- Taste to adjust salt. Enjoy!
- Category: Main Dish
- Cuisine: Sri Lankan
Let me know how you enjoyed this recipe in the comments below. I always love hearing your thoughts and feedback on making your own delicious food at home.
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