Red lentil dal with coconut cream

Red lentil dal with coconut cream

Dig In!
Mark Roper

You can buy most of the flavouring ingredients for Indian food in the supermarket and they last for ages in the pantry. Lentils are a couple of dollars per packet and you can get four flavoursome dishes out of a packet. This creamy rich dal is great with plain steamed rice or flatbreads.


Quantity Ingredient
3 large tomatoes
1 teaspoon mustard oil
1 brown onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ghee
3 garlic cloves, crushed
3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon tomato paste
250g red lentils
500ml vegetable stock
125ml coconut cream
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked


  1. Preheat the oven to its highest temperature.
  2. Slice the tomatoes in half, then in half again. Put them on a roasting tray, drizzle with a little mustard oil and season with salt. Roast them in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Put the onion in a small food processor and blitz until smooth.
  4. Put the ghee in a deep-sided frying pan or saucepan over medium heat. Add the pureed onion and sweat for 5–7 minutes but do not allow it to colour. Add the garlic and ginger and sweat for a further 2–3 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom pods, turmeric, garam masala and chilli powder and stir continuously to toast the spices, about 2–3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir for a further minute.
  5. Put the roasted tomatoes in the food processor and blitz until they are smooth. Add them to the mixture in the frying pan and stir to combine.
  6. Add the lentils and stock and increase the heat to high. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to low, stir and then cook for 20–25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked – the mixture should be gluggy like a thick soup. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Serve with a drizzle of coconut cream and garnish with coriander.
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