Dahl (also spelled Dal) is an Indian curry or more of a soup. It is a staple dish in Indian cuisine. In a Dal, lentils are simmered with vegetables, leafy greens, spices, and herbs to make a hearty, satisfying dish. This healthy Indian dish has many regional variations resulting in diverse flavors and ingredients. In India, it is often served with rice or paratha, an Indian flatbread similar to naan bread, but it’s perfectly fine to enjoy on its own. Dal is often served as a side dish. My Lentil Dahl Recipe (Lentil Soup) features lentils, the main ingredient with all the best Indian spices with a little green chili thrown in for heat. This Indian lentil dahl is made even better when topped with boiled eggs for even more protein. Like many Indian dishes, this dal is heavy on the garlic, just as I like it.
What makes this a great recipe?
- Perfect for meal prep. Can be made ahead and kept refrigerated. See the Q&A below.
- Lentils are nutritious, rich in minerals and protein, low in fat, and high in fiber. Eating lentils is a good way to add protein to your diet, especially for those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
- Lentils are inexpensive, making this the perfect meal for budget-conscious cooks.
- Lentil soup is filling, delicious, and warming on a cold winter night.
- Lentils - I use brown lentils because I usually have them in the pantry. You can use any lentil you want, just make allowances for different cooking times. Check the package directions.
- You might want a red lentil dal recipe, also known as masoor dal. Red lentils are very popular in recipes because they cook fast, perfect for easy red lentil dahl. Here's an Indian red lentil dahl we really enjoy.
- Ghee - Ghee is clarified butter, in which butter is treated with low heat until the water evaporates off, leaving the milk solids behind. The solids are then skimmed off. What remains, is the clarified liquid fat known as ghee. You can make your own clarified butter or just use regular butter.
- Green chili - unless you have access to a market that specializes in ethnic foods, you may not find the type of green chili traditionally used in Indian cooking. A good substitute is the serrano pepper, readily available in most grocery stores.
- Cilantro- Parsley in its place.
- Oil - use a neutral oil like vegetable or canola.
- Tomatoes - Roma tomatoes work great, but any meaty tomato will do.
Full ingredients list & measurements are provided in the recipe card.
What's the difference between brown lentils, green lentils, and red lentils? Visit the Kitchn website for the scoop on the why, the how, and the difference between colored lentils.
Soak the dry lentils in a bowl of water for 2-3 hours.
In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the chopped garlic 1-2 minutes on low heat.
Add the cumin seeds, onion, bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon, green chili, salt, turmeric, chili powder, black pepper, and cumin powder.
Cook until the mixture is fragrant- around 1 minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté until they become soft and fall apart.
Add the lentils along with 2 cups of water and stir to combine.
Meanwhile, crush the whole garlic cloves with the side of your knife, and fry them in the ghee or butter in a pan, over medium heat (high heat will burn the garlic). Cook the garlic until they are golden brown. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with cilantro or parsley, halved boiled eggs, and fried garlic. Serve the soup hot!
- Try using different spices and herbs.
- Use a different type of lentils. Red lentils are very popular in soup recipes.
- Add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Add a dollop of plain yogurt with a little grated salty cheese like parmesan.
- Allow the broth to thicken slightly and serve over brown rice or basmati rice.
- Bump up the flavor by using l2 cups of low-sodium or no-sodium vegetable broth in place of water.
Red lentil dahl recipes are packed with nutrients and provide a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Lentils are also high in protein and low in fat so they are great substitutes for meat.
First time making dahl?
Here are some definitions for you:
- Curry Powder - usually consists of turmeric, cumin, ginger, black pepper, and less frequently garlic and/or cinnamon.
- Garam Masala - is a South Indian spice mixture similar to curry powder, with more pungent spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and cloves.
- Pulses - If you don’t recognize the word “pulses,” you’re not alone. It is the official name for the category of food that includes dry peas, yellow chickpeas, beans, and lentils.
- Split pulses - If a pulse is split in half, it is a split pulse like split yellow peas.
- Split lentils - Lentils may be sold as whole lentils or split with the husks removed. Whole lentils with husks intact take longer to cook and will retain their shape better than split lentils.
Looking for More Healthy Recipes?
- Large pot
- Wooden spoon
Food Storage Tips
Lentil Soup will easily keep for 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container, making it ideal for cooking on the weekend and serving throughout the week. It also freezes well, maintaining its quality for 3-4 months.
Lentil Dahl Soup Recipe
- Large pot
- wooden spoon
- 1 cup dry brown lentils or dry red lentils
- 4 tablespoons oil
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise
- 2 inch stick of cinnamon
- 1 green chili slit in half
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cups water or vegetable stock
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped or parsley
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns whole
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 large tomatoes chopped
- 1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter) or olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic whole
- 2 eggs boiled and halved
- Soak the lentils in a bowl for 2-3 hours.
- In a large pot, heat oil and add the chopped garlic, and fry for 1-2 minutes on low heat.
- Next, add the cumin seeds, chopped yellow onions, bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon stick, green chili, salt, turmeric, chili powder, black pepper, and ground cumin.
- Cook until the mixture is fragrant- around 1 minute.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and sauté until they become soft.
- Add the lentils along with 2 cups of water and stir to combine.
- Cover the pot and let the mixture simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the lentils become soft.
- Meanwhile, crush the whole garlic cloves with the side of your knife, and fry them in the ghee in a pan, until they are golden.
- Ladle the soup into individual bowls and garnish with cilantro, halved boiled eggs, and the garlic fried in ghee.
- Serve this soup piping hot!
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.
We take every effort to ensure that the estimated meal cost per serving is accurate. We use a meal cost analysis application that estimates the cost of a recipe based on groceries purchased at a Walmart store in my geographical area, northern California.
Amy Liu Dong says
Oh my, this soup recipe looks incredibly delicious! The color it gives makes it so appealing! Perfect for this winter season! Loved it!
Thanks Amy! It is my favorite winter soup.
I've always loved lentil soup and when I saw your version, I had to try it! The Indian flavors and egg garnish were a huge hit with my family!!! YUM!
Thank you. I loved the addtion of the eggs when I first tried it. Glad you did too.