Red lentil dal – vegetarian

Red lentil dal sounds a little bit ordinary, but it´s taste is everything but boring! The red lentils don´t have to be soaked for hours in water before cooking, so the preparation of this dal is quickly done and the fine aromatic species will tickle your palate. This dal is what you call plain fare or a typically home cooked meal in it´s best form: simple and delicious. Enjoy it with freshly made chapatis, or toasted bread and some greek yoghurt. The recipe comes from Meera Sodhas cooking book “Original Indisch” which I can highly recommend.

Effect on the doshas: red lentils are excellent for Pitta Dosha and also good for Kapha Dosha. They increase slightly the Vata Dosha. Red lentils are sweet, astringent, light, dry and cold. They have a stool binding effect and serve in case of diarrhea.

In this special recipe we use tomatoes and according to Ayurveda, tomatoes are acid and increase all three doshas. But if we choose sunny riped, fresh-sweet tomatoes, without their skins and bits, it should be fine. We also use cayenne pepper, so people with a high Pitta should add some fresh grinded ginger instead of the pepper.

Ingredients for 4 persons

220 g red lentils

2 SS colza oil

4 cloves

300 g tomatoes (without skin and bits)

1 onion cut in fine slices

1 piece of fresh grinded ginger, 6 cm

12 peppercorns

3 garlic cloves, smashed

1/2 TS cayenne pepper

1/2 TS cilantro seeds, grounded

1/2 TS turmeric grounded

1 TS salt


Wash the red lentils under cold water until it comes out clear. Put the cleaned lentils in a pot with minimum 600 ml fresh water and medium heat to boiling, close the lid and let it cook – without stirring – for 10 to 15 minutes.

In the meanwhile heat the oil in another pot and roast the cloves and the peppercorns with medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes. Then add the onion and roast them until they get golden-yellow coloured.

Then add the garlic cloves and the ginger and roast them for 4 minutes, stirring slowly. Then add the cilantro, cayenne pepper, turmeric and salt. Stir it all well and add the tomatoes. Close the pot with a lid and let it all simmer for 8 minutes. The sauce should be viscous.

Now give the soft lentils with a foam scoop into the tomato sauce and bring the sauce with some of the remaining cooking water from the lentils to the consistency you want. If you´d like to eat the lentil dal with bread, the sauce should be “thick” liquid. Stir it all well and let it cook slightly for 10 more minutes.

Season the dal with salt and cayenne pepper, serve it with some homemade chapatis and a tasty yoghurt! Watch out: i pick up the peppercorns and the cloves before I serve the dal. Though it is very healthy to bite on a clove, it might be a bit surprising. And ready is the red lentil dal. Enjoy! Click here to find a recipe for homemade chapatis.


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