Fragrant Coconut Dhal

This dhal is one of the most comforting, economical and delicious dishes I know of and we enjoy it almost every week. Dhal is a ubiquitous term for a dish that can look completely different depending on where in India you might eat it and each state in India has its favourite version. While all dhal’s use lentils and have an earthy creaminess in common, the different selection of spices used in each gives them distinctly unique flavours that simply cannot be compared.

This is a very simple and easy version and even the most domestically challenged person should be able to master it! You can then decide if you want more heat, spice or whether you prefer the texturer thicker – or thinner; and make it your own!

Delicious, creamy and nourishing coconut dhal

I love to serve this dhal with some roasted veggies, sometimes brown rice and sometimes rotis or flatbreads and often with tofu or paneer. Check out my Saag paneer recipe for the prep of the paneer itself and the video below on how to make the dhal! This recipe makes enough for 10-12 but you can freeze or keep to one side in tupperware for up to a week.


1 chopped onion

3 cups red split lentils

1 can coconut cream/milk

2 tbsp oil or ghee

8 curry leaves (optional)

1 can chopped tomato

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

Pinch coriander seeds

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp garlic minced

2 tsp minced ginger

1litre water/veg stock

Salt & Chilli to taste

Handful chopped fresh coriander

Juice 1 lime or to taste

  1. Wash and rinse the lentils in a sieve
  2. Heat the oil/ghee in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion and fry for 3 mins
  3. Add the curry leaves, whole spices, garlic and ginger and fry for 2 more minutes stirring regularly. Add the turmeric & combine.
  4. Add the lentils and stor thoroughly and then add the tomatoes (and chilli if using) and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Add the Coconut cream/milk and mix well – you can add the 8000ml liquid by using it to swirl out whats left the cans of both tomato and coconut. Bring to the boil and simmer covered for 15-20 mins. Y
  6. Stir thoroughly and check consistency – you may need to add more water or reduce slightly with the lid off depending on the consistency you prefer.
  7. Add lime/lemon juice, salt to taste & fresh chopped coriander
  8. If you feel like going the extra mile frying down some onions in turmeric till crispy really makes this dish extra yummy!