Ready in 30 minutes or less, this Indian Red Lentil Dahl is easy to make and full of flavor. Serve with rice and vegan naan for an incredible feast!

large cast iron pan with red lentil dahl

Made in 1 pot in under 30 minutes, Red Lentil Dahl is so incredible you will have trouble stopping at 1 bowl! Budget friendly red lentils are the star of this Indian dish, full of plant protein and fiber.

I threw in some spinach just because I love greens. Serve with rice for a complete meal!

Some dahl recipes require cooking the lentils separately before adding to the fragrant sauce, but I wanted to keep the recipe as easy as possible. It all cooks just fine in 1 pot, and if you want it to be thinner in consistency (more soupy), simply add more broth or water. Easy peasy.

bowl of lentils/spinach and rice on top

Instant Pot Red Lentil Dahl

You can make this in an Instant Pot. Use the Sauté feature and cook the onion, then garlic and ginger. Add the spices, stir, then add the lentils, coconut milk, tomatoes and broth. Seal, and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Do a quick release, then add the lemon juice and stir in the spinach.

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close up of bowl with dahl and spinach, with rice on top

cast iron pan full of lentils and spinach, with a silver large spoon in it
4.94 stars (86 ratings)

Quick & Easy Red Lentil Dahl

Ready in 30 minutes or less, this Indian Red Lentil Dahl is easy to make and full of flavor. Serve with rice and vegan naan for an incredible feast!
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 8 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped small
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 13.5 ounce can full fat coconut milk
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • half a lemon, juiced
  • 3-4 cups baby spinach

For serving

  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • Vegan Naan


  • In a large pot or pan over medium heat, sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add the garlic and ginger and cook 1 more minute, until fragrant.
  • Add the garam masala, turmeric and red pepper flakes to the pan and stir into the onion mixture. Add a few tablespoons of water if the mixture is too dry.
  • Now add the dried lentils, canned tomatoes and their juices, coconut milk and vegetable broth to the pan. Stir well and turn the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and soft. Stir occasionally.
  • Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan, and stir in the spinach as well until wilted. Add salt to taste. I used 1 teaspoon.
  • Serve with brown or white rice and Vegan Naan. Enjoy!



  1. Leftover dahl will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days in a covered container. It also freezes well.
  2. May use light coconut milk if desired, it simply won't be as creamy. If you can't have coconut, you may substitute Cashew Cream instead. Unsweetened almond/cashew/soy milk may work as well.
  3. To make it in the Instant Pot: Use the sauté feature to cook the onions, then the garlic and ginger. Add spices and stir. Turn off the Instant Pot for a moment, and add the lentils, tomatoes, coconut milk and broth. Seal and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Do a quick release, then add the lemon juice and stir in the spinach until wilted. Serve.
  4. Nutritional information is an estimate only and does not include rice or naan.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 258kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 732mg | Potassium: 625mg | Fiber: 12g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1314IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 5mg
Course: Main, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Nora Taylor
Did you make this recipe?Mention @nora_cooks_vegan_ or tag #noracooks!

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  1. Excellent!!! Added approx half cup of canned chickpeas and added extra coconut milk to Posen it up in the end before serving. Keeping this one!

  2. I’ve made this several times, and it’s delicious! It’s worth the time to make with the naan linked in the recipe. This dish is easy enough for a weeknight dinner, and it’s also been a favorite when I’ve cooked it for guests.

    I use Nora Cook’s recipes more than any other, so thank you so much!

    1. I am thrilled and honored that you use and love my recipes! Thank you for sharing your wonderful feedback and review! I agree that the dahl is amazing with the naan!

  3. Would this work with regular brown lentils? Trying to use what I have on hand at home currently. Thanks!

    1. You probably could, though the lentils will be more noticeable, and it will take longer for them to cook. Add more water or broth as needed. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Just made this. Didn’t have anything except peanut butter to make it creamy so I added two spoons of that, I didn’t have canned tomatoes, so I added salsa… The fresh, lemon and spinach at the end is a lovely touch. This is a delicious quick recipe. Thank you.

  5. I made this tonight for me and my partner. I used lite coconut milk, used fire roasted tomatoes, and enoyed it with brown jasmine rice. This recipe was so delicious and cost effective. Plenty left over for lunches during the week.

  6. Absolutely LOVE this. Just made it for the second time. Didn’t feel like leaving the house today, so used what i had on hand….subbed sour cream for the coconut cream, and tossed a cup of salsa with two roma tomatoes in the food processor and pulsed, then added it all to the instant pot. I like it better with the coconut cream, but this was still very good. Thank you for sharing!!!!!

  7. I love this one. I made this to go with the veggie korma and it was a delicious Indian feast that we had for multiple meals. Inexpensive too.

  8. Looking forward to making this for a crowd. Wondering how much is a serving size…one cup, perhaps? I need to make a gallon. Thanks

    1. There are 8 servings total, and I think it’s around 1 1/2 cups per serving. Good choice, and happy cooking! Hope this helps!

  9. Love, love this red lentil Dahl Nora. Make it all the time and sometimes add sweet potatoes or other veggies! Goes perfectly with basmati rice! Thank you. Your recipes are great,
    Regards Di.

    1. Hi Dianne. You are welcome! I am so glad you are loving the dahl! Your suggestions of sweet potatoes and veggies sound delish! Thanks for sharing your great feedback and ideas!

  10. This red lentil Dahl was absolutely delicious!!! Everyone who tried it loved it and wanted the recipe. Already making it again!

    1. Hi Sonnie. I’m so glad you loved the dahl! I so enjoy this recipe this time of year! Thanks for you great feedback!

  11. Amazing recipe but why on earth is 4 cups or rice on it. More like 1 cup, now I got 3 cups I gotta chuck. Not happy bout that at all.

    1. It’s 4 cups of cooked rice, which comes out to 1/2 cup per serving of dahl. Pretty standard I’d say, but of course it’s optional. You don’t have to eat the dahl with rice at all, and if you want to less go ahead.

  12. Thank you for recipe, was excellent! Got a bit worried about volume of liquid in pot but it simmered down nicely. Took a little longer than 15 mins but worked out great.

  13. Excellent flavour, the lemon juice really makes a difference. I put a bit too much in first time, but I’ve got it just right now. I always add the spinach and sometimes butternut or sweet potato. Yum.

    1. Hi Fiona. I’m glad you are loving the Dahl, and have found the perfect lemon balance for your taste! Your additions sound so good! Thank you for your great feedback and review!

  14. I make this recipe once a week. I have made it with red lentils and yellow split peas. The first time I made it I used half of each. My husband and I love this meal and it’s fun to change it up with the peas or lentils. I’ve added roasted Butternut squash and I’ve added pumpkin. Such a great versatile recipe. Thank you! 💚

    1. Hi Marylou. How wonderful that you and your husband love the soup! I appreciate you sharing your ideas to change the soup up! They sound delicious! Thank you for your wonderful feedback and review!

  15. Really delicious! I loved the idea of making rice on the side. I pureed the dahl at the end and poured it over rice. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe!

    1. Hi John. How wonderful! I’m so glad this is a hit with you and your friends and family! Thanks for sharing your feedback!

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