This creamy Indian green lentil dahl recipe is a great one-pot dish made using French green lentils. Green lentils work the best for this meal because when cooked, they hold their shape well and remain pretty firm in texture. This is a popular Indian dish that will go perfectly at your next dinner party.
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Vegetarian | Vegan With Changes | Cooks In Under One Hour | No Soak Lentils
This dish can be made vegan by taking out the garam masala yogurt or replacing it with a dairy-free alternative, like coconut yogurt.
Cooking Indian Green Lentils at Home
Many people find the thought of cooking traditional Indian dishes at home daunting. However, many dishes can be created at home and are extremely easy to cook. So next time you’re thinking about reaching for the takeaway menu, why not attempt to recreate one of them yourself?
Being a lover of Indian food, when I first moved to Spain, I found that Indian restaurants and takeouts weren’t as readily available as I was used to. This prompted me to research, buy some ingredients, and practice Indian cooking at home.
After a bit of practice, I now actually favor my own Indian style of cooking over the ones I used to order. I also found that when I looked into authentic Indian cooking, it differs quite a lot from what you’d get at a local restaurant, particularly in Europe. This is because a lot of the restaurants cook to the palate of their local community. I understand this, but it’s not true Indian style.
So, after a few years of living in Spain, I realized that I would have to do it myself if I wanted the authentic taste of Indian cuisine.
This Indian green lentil dhal recipe is one of my absolute favorites to cook at home. It’s easy to cook and primarily consists of ingredients you’re likely to have in your pantry already, and if you don’t, they can be easily acquired at a low cost at most grocery stores or markets.
What is Indian Green Lentil Dahl?
Dhal (or dahl, dal, or daal) is an Indian lentil recipe popular in Indian cooking. It can be used as a side dish or a filling main course with a bit of naan bread on the side. The term dahl means a dish made primarily from split lentils. So it’s not limited to dahl in particular.
This is usually a vegan or vegetarian dish, depending on the other ingredients used. It involves slow-cooking the lentils in broth, coconut milk, and other seasonings such as garam masala, cilantro, and garlic.
This dish is quite versatile, and once you’ve established the basics, you can put your own twist on it by adding other ingredients, such as canned tomatoes or wilted spinach. The recipe I will give you today is my favorite because it’s simple, tasty, and filling.
Indian Green Lentils – Ingredients
What gives this green lentil dahl recipe its body is the coconut milk and, of course, the dried green lentils. The rest of the ingredients used are easy to find and inexpensive.
You can make this dish as spicy as you like, so if you aren’t a fan of the heat, you can leave out the warmer ingredients. After all, the prominent flavor of this dish comes from garlic, cilantro, and ginger. As long as this lentil curry dish is seasoned correctly, it tastes excellent without spice.
This is quite a rich and creamy dish, so if you want to add a slight acidity to it, you can add a splash of lemon juice or tomato puree to break down the flavors.
Personally, I always have most of these spices in my house anyway because I love to cook all kinds of Asian cuisine, but there are a couple of ingredients you may not already have if you’re new to this kind of cooking, such as turmeric and cumin. Once again, these can be easily obtained from most grocery stores and aren’t expensive to buy.
Turmeric, in particular, is a must-have for the dish because although it only adds a mild flavoring to your lentil dahl, it adds color.
Bonus Fact: Turmeric has many health benefits because it is an antioxidant and contains many medicinal properties.
Cooking With French Green Lentils For A Indian Recipe
Mainly, cooking all kinds of lentils, whether green, red, or brown, involves the same process. Firstly, add some vegetable or rapeseed oil to a pan before adding your garlic, shallots, cilantro stems, and grated ginger.
The cilantro stems will infuse your oil, giving your finished dish a great aroma and flavor. (You can save the leaves to garnish the dish later for a vibrant plate and freshness).
Adding The Spice
Once your fresh ingredients have started to soften and color slightly, it’s time to add in your seasoning and spice. Firstly goes the turmeric and cumin. Stir these spices into your pan until you begin to get the aroma, but be careful not to let them burn. This can happen if you turn your back for a few seconds.
After a couple of minutes, add your lentils to the pan, and coat them with the mixture.
Adding The Coconut Milk
Once your lentils are combined well with the spices and other ingredients, add in your broth and coconut milk. This recipe only calls for one cup of coconut milk, which is usually about one can as sold. This will serve four people for this dish if having as a main course with bread or rice. (Be sure to shake your coconut milk can well before opening, as it tends to separate).
Adding The Warmth
Next, if you’re using tomato paste, add a generous squeeze to the pan and salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper. (You can leave these out if you don’t like a spicy dish).
At this point, check your dish for seasoning, you can always add a little more heat here if you desire.
To Finish Your Green Lentil Curry
Once all your ingredients are combined in the pan, slowly bring it to a boil, before reducing it to a simmer, and cook for around 30 minutes. You will need to occasionally stir your curry to ensure that the lentils aren’t sticking to the bottom of your pan. If they catch and burn, it can drastically impact the flavor of your dahl.
After half an hour, taste your dish again, check if it needs any additional seasoning, acidity, or spice, and do so as required.
You will also need to check the texture of your lentils, the finished dish should have soft, plump lentils. You don’t want them to disintegrate.
Another thing to look out for is your dahl getting too dry. If this happens, simply add in a bit more broth or water. You want the dish to be quite wet when complete.
Once the dish is complete, divide it between bowls and garnish it with some fresh cilantro leaves.
Handy Cooking Tips for Green Lentil Dahl
The good thing about this dish is that the lentils don’t need soaking before you cook them, unlike many bean dishes I cook at home. This is because the lentils for this dhal recipe are technically soaked in the broth during the cooking process.
If you’re used to cooking lentils, you will notice that green lentils take a little longer to cook than red or brown, but for this dish, it’s worth the wait.
One thing I tend to do before adding my lentils to the pan is flush them with a little bit of cold water, just make sure that your colander doesn’t have big enough holes for them to fall through.
Cooking The Perfect Green Lentils
Green lentils are my favorite to use because I love the firm texture they hold after cooking. If you use red or brown lentils, you will realize that they break down a lot easier, and tend to disintegrate into a bit of a mushy texture, which works well for some dishes, but in my eyes, not this one.
Another tip is to keep making sure you stir your lentils while cooking. I have made a mistake in the past of leaving them for too long, which results in them catching to the bottom of the pan. Also, if this happens and they start to burn, the flavor of your entire dish is compromised.
Make sure that you don’t allow your dhal to dry out. This should be a very wet dish by the end, so if you notice it starting to get dry, add a little warm water or broth to the pan. However, adding water can weaken the flavor, so check again for spice and seasoning should this be the case.
Indian Coconut Green Lentil Dhal Recipe
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 diced shallot
- 2 tbsp cilantro stems
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- Pinch crushed red pepper flake
- 1 ½ cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup dried green lentils
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- Coriander leaf to garnish
- Salt to taste
- Heat a small-medium pan over mid to high heat.
- Add oil, and allow to warm.
- Add in ginger, garlic, cilantro stems, and shallots, and saute until fragrant and starting to color.
- Add the turmeric and cumin to the mixture, stirring well and being careful not to burn.
- Add in the French green lentils, and coat them with the mixture.
- Add in coconut milk and broth, and stir well to combine.
- Add red pepper flakes and cayenne (if using) as well as tomato paste. Stir well.
- Bring the pot to a gentle boil before reducing it to a simmer, and leave uncovered for around 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- If the dhal looks a little dry, add in more broth or warm water, a tbsp at a time.
- Cook the entire dish until the lentils have softened and are nice and plump.
- Divide into bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
- Serve with naan bread, white or pilau rice.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 19gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 409mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 7g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.