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Red Lentil Dal With Spiced Onion Relish

Gently-spiced, warming and hearty, serve this delicious red lentil dal alongside yoghurt flatbreads and top generously with corriander.

easy quick curry recipe

Welcome to part three of the Lockdown Chow Down!

Join me (almost) daily as we reconnect with one of life’s most simple pleasures, food!

Todays cooking project is a deliciously nourishing dal, made from pantry staples. I have used red lentils, but feel free to use brown if that’s all you have. You may need to adjust the cook time.

I use the term dal loosely here as this recipe is inspired by Masoor Dal, but tweaked to the ingredients I had at hand.

I highly recommend that you serve this dal with some of the easy 3 ingredient Flatbreads we made in part two and make the optional raita.

To make this vegan simply swap out the yogurt in the raita for coconut or soy yogurt.

This recipe can be viewed as a cook along on the Culinary Cartel Instagram, by clicking here, or by viewing the “Red Lentil Dal” highlight on stories.

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel  and #lockdownchowdown on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this using other types of lentils?

We have only tested this with red lentils. Cooking times for other varieties will vary.

Can I make this vegan?

Absolutely! Just make sure to use a plant-based yoghurt in your raita (and flatbreads, if using). 


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easy quick curry recipe

Red Lentil Dal With Spiced Onion Relish

  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 55-70 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings
  • Diet: Vegetarian



For The Dal

  • 3 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 thinly sliced onions
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 280g/ 1.5 cups red lentils
  • 1/2 tin coconut milk
  • 1/2 tin tomatoes
  • 1 tsp vegetable stock concentrate, mixed with 250ml water (or 1 cup homemade vegetable stock)

For the Raita:

  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced in half and deseeded
  • 3/4 cup full cream yoghurt (or coconut yoghurt)
  • 1 tsp fresh coriander, finely chopped

For serving


  1. Place a pot, large enough for the curry over medium-high heat and add the coconut oil.
  2. Once the oil has warmed add the spices, and gently fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, until the spices are fragrant. Be careful not to let the spices burn.
  3. Add the onions to the pan, stir them to coat them in the spices and lower the heat to medium. Cover the pan and cook the onions until they are soft, and caramelised. This should take about 15  minutes and it’s important not to rush this step, as the onions will become your spiced relish.
  4. While the onions are cooking make the raita. Grate the cucumber and using your hands, squeeze out the excess water. Add the squeezed cucumber to the full fat yogurt, along with the coriander. Stir the raita together and add salt to taste.
  5. If you want to make some quick 3 ingredient flatbreads, now is the perfect time to get started.
  6. Next wash the red lentils and check them for any small stones or twigs.
  7. When the onions have caramelised, remove the lid from the pan. Place half of the onions into a bowl and season these to taste with salt.
  8. To the remaining onions in the pan, add the ginger and garlic. Fry the mixture for 1 minute on a medium heat, before adding the veg stock mixture and tomatoes. Allow the tomatoes to simmer for at least 10 minutes on medium-high heat, topping up the mixture with water as needed to prevent it catching and burning.
  9. To the tomato onion mixture, add the coconut milk, lentils and 2 cups of water. Cover the pan and cook the lentils until they have softened, which can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on your lentils.
  10. Check the dal throughout cooking, adding more water as needed. You are looking for a loose porridge like consistency
  11. Add salt to taste once the lentils have softened.
  12. To serve, spoon the dal into bowls and top with a blob of raita and reserved caramelized onion relish. Scatter over fresh coriander and serve alongside flatbreads, if you are making them, or poppadoms.


Chefs Tip: You can add 1 cup steamed and diced butternut/sweet potato/ cauliflower to your dal right at the end once the lentils have cooked. Alternatively, stir through 1 cup of raw baby spinach, chard or diced kale in the last 5 minutes of cooking the dal.

  • Prep Time: 5-10 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 50-60 MInutes
  • Category: Mains
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Red Lentil Dal With Spiced Onion Relish

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