A few weeks ago, I shared a quick and easy recipe with readers over on Joanna Goddard's lovely lifestyle blog, A Cup of Jo. If you didn't catch this comforting, cozy recipe then, don't miss it now. A bowl of this golden goodness is my cure-all for winter . . .

"Dahl" is a ubiquitous catch-all phrase for most any stew in India made from pulses. Every cook in India prepares her dahl with a slight variation mostly according to region, tradition and availability. From the addition of tamarind paste in Kerala to a splash of cream in the Punjab region in the North, I delighted in this nourishing dish almost every day while living in India a few years ago. It's so comforting and always hits the spot, especially on cold days.

Once you gather all the spices and pantry staples, this version of dahl is easy to whip up in about 20 minutes. I love it because it's incredibly flavorful and satisfying, and absolutely easy. When accompanied with some rice or a little flat bread and some garnishes such as fresh cilantro, toasted cashews or mango chutney, you've got an inexpensive, vegetarian main dish everyone will go gaga for. It's a showstopper! My secret weapon, which an innkeeper in Panaji, Goa, showed me with her dahl, is to enrich the whole thing with coconut milk. This subtly creamy, decadent touch makes the dish beyond delicious.

South Indian Dahl
Serves 4 as a main dish

3 tbsp. ghee (or vegetable oil and you'll keep the whole thing vegan)
2 small red onions or 1 large one, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. chili powder
Pinch of ground cardamon
3 dried red chilies, chopped into 1/4" pieces
1 tsp. salt
A few dashes of pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch nub ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups masoor dahl (orange lentils)
4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
Juice from 1 lime
For garnish: Lime, cilantro, toasted cashews 

What to do: 

Heat ghee on medium heat and add spices and onion, stirring continuously for about five minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook for another one or two minutes. Then, add lentils, tomatoes and liquids. Crank up the heat to medium-high and stir continuously, until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. 

Serve hot with rice, naan or a crusty roll. Garnish with toasted cashews and cilantro. (I love extra lime wedges for squeezing on top, as well as extra salt and pepper.)


  1. Beautiful! We are reading a book about Curry for our book club right now and my spice this week is curry as well, thank you for the post!

  2. I love red lentils! This looks so pretty/yummy, I wish I could go back in time and have it for dinner ;)

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  4. This looks wonderful, looking forward to trying it. Is there a reason for using dried chilli or can I use fresh?

  5. There is nothing better than fresh, hot dahl in winter! Lovely recipe. :)

  6. Holy Cow! This was fantastic. My teenage son went back for fourths and fifths :)
    Thanks for this little bit of wonderful!

  7. Thank you for this recipe! I just finished making it and I am in heaven...the flavors are rich and light at the same time. I love it!

  8. asian food is full of flavor you'll love it

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