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Golden Yellow Lentil Dal with Curry

This easy and delicious yellow lentil dal is full of protein and bright flavors!  It’s great on its own or served over fragrant Basmati rice for a quick and healthy mid-week meal!Yellow lentil dal and Basmati rice - Girl and the Kitchen

I am one of those freaks who can whip up a huge elaborate dinner for the family but when it comes to me eating on my own…I am perfectly fine with random scraps from the fridge.  Sometimes it’s a ton of fruit or little pieces of smoked salmon with some random tomatoes and finished of with a good piece of dark chocolate.  I believe this is all due to being a part of the food industry…you get so bombarded with food images all day and food in general that when you get home…unless you are feeling particularly inspired or are running late for a post deadline…you are perfectly fine with munching on practically anything…including smoked salmon and possibly some ramen…which actually sounds pretty darn good…recipe in the making.

Golden Yellow Lentil Dal with Curry - Girl and the Kitchen

On those days when I am actually feeling inspired and refrain from foraging the pantry for cereal leftovers (one of my favorite pastimes) I come up with some pretty fancy stuff.  I typically get these inspirations for recipes somewhere between 3-5pm when my mind starts getting excited about the possibilities of cooking when I get home from an exhausting day at the office.  I have discovered that the key to this dream recipe actually happening is ensuring that whatever ingredients my fancy concoctions require are available to me in my fridge that day.  Otherwise by the time I pick-up the munchkin and get ready to cook I am ready to slather some peanut butter and jelly on a few slices of toast and call it a vegan panini…because it actually is 🙂

Oh crap I am rambling…sorry I was really distracted by that peanut butter and jelly sandwich possibility…

ANYHOW… On one such day…I came into the kitchen all excited to make what I hoped to be a fantastic new vegan meal…that I could trick my husband into eating…another one of my favorite pastimes.  Yellow lentil dal and Basmati rice - Girl and the Kitchen

Once I got into the kitchen, I placed the munchkin in front of her Playdoh, turned on some G-d awful Russian cartoon and went on my merry way to cook.  (The munchkin only speaks Russian…hence the Russian cartoon…I intend to keep it this way for as long as possible so that A. she does not understand my profanities and B. so that she becomes a little bi-lingual genius)

I did rummage the pantry, but this time not for any other reason except to find my Indian spices.  Hubs had taken me to a vegetarian class the week before where we made several dishes but one of which was dal.  I wanted to whip out my Indian spices and recreate some of the flavor profiles I had tasted before they got all mish mashed up in my head and randomly misplaced.

Yellow lentil dal and Basmati rice - Girl and the Kitchen

FYI dal just means split dry lentils, beans or peas.  Nothing fancy…that’s it.  Congrats you now know an Indian word 🙂

A few knobs of ginger…a few cloves of garlic…several teaspoons of curry spice and a plethora of gorgeous yellow lentils went into this dal.  And I was a happy girl. Seriously, it was some great eats.  So savory…so simple…so good.

I suppose for one day I can give up on my pantry pillaging…

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Golden Yellow Lentil Dal with Curr

Yellow Lentil Dal with Curry

  • Author: Mila Furman
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 people 1x


This easy and delicious golden yellow lentil dal with curry is full of protein and bright flavors!


  • 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
  • 1 large onion (diced finely)
  • 1 thai chili (diced finely)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced on a microplane)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger (grated on a microplane)
  • 1.5 cups yellow lentils
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 34 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • juice of half a lime
  • salt and ground black pepper (to taste)
  • cilantro to garnish
  • lime wedges to garnish
  • cooked basmati rice


  1. Add olive oil to a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, garlic, ginger and chilies and allow to sweat over medium heat. Do not allow any color to be achieved.
  3. Add lentils, spices, tomatoes, 2 cups of broth and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer and reduce to low. Cook with a lid slightly open for 20 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning the bottom and to check for liquid. If the lentils have absorbed the liquid add in more broth. You want this thick but still have plenty of liquid.
  5. Once the lentils have reached the desired doneness and texture add lime juice and adjust for seasoning and heat and serve over rice.
  6. Garnish with cilantro


  1. The potency of your curry powder of turmeric can effect the flavor of this recipe.  My turmeric tends to be pretty mellow BUT if you are using an extremely fresh turmeric it may be quite potent.  Always start with a smaller amount and increase as you go.
  2. The nutritional information are just to be used as a guideline.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Entree, Vegan
  • Cuisine: Indian



Golden Yellow Lentil Dal with Curry

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  1. I feel like I’m sitting at your counter watching you cook and hearing you talk about your day…such an ease about your writing…so inviting! I love that your daughter is only speaking Russian – brilliant! And – thank you for teaching me the word dal – I love new food vocabulary! This dish will warm me up from the inside out! I know my hubby will love it too! Thank you!

    1. Awwww thank you Annie!!! What a terrific comment!!! Yes the munchkin sounds like an immigrant when she attempts to speak English…it’s quite adorable 🙂

  2. I make dal [dhal, dahl] almost every week – besides its usual usage may cook some ‘down’ further and use as toast spread instead of butter!. This is a lovely recipe and I shall copy the next time around for sure!! Oh, I am kind’a older than you – DO let the munchkin hear ALL the languages in the house – it is quite amazing how quickly they know the difference . . . mine were pretty much trilingual as soon as they could speak and then found it ‘disgustingly’ easy to add other languages so they could understand 🙂 ! Honest injun!!! Especially when asking for chocolate . . . 🙂 !

  3. This looks so good. I believe it’s the Chana Dal which is my favorite and I either top it off with some coriander chutney or some tangy pickled onions. Yum!

    1. Thank you!!! I thought Chana was with chick peas no? I am always careful about titling things the right way 🙂

      1. I didn’t wait until the weekend I made it today as my husband has just flew to China for a week. Its scrummy. I used chicken stock (I make my own stock and have a stash in my freezer) and regular coconut oil since I have never seen coconut olive oil in Switzerland, but the flavour is amazing. It is so quick too 🙂 I’ll be adding this to my regular recipes 🙂 thank you.

        1. OMG I am so glad it worked out for you!!! And did you know it freezes easily? Great to make for the cold months to have as a stash in the freezer. Although…considering how fast and easy it is… it’s almost unnecessary huh 🙂 So glad you loved it! Have a great weekend!

  4. Great recipe and very tasty. One comment, you do have to soak the yellow lentils in water for at least 1 hour to overnight, so definitely you need to know in advance if you are going to make for a weeknight meal.

    1. Soaking them def makes for a faster meal! However I did not soak them which led to a slightly longer cooking time 🙂 but I will post it in the recipe notes! Thanks

  5. I liked the ingredient list for this recipe so I gave it a try. It was inedible. I think the 1tbsp of turmeric powder is wayyyyy to much. Maybe that’s supposed to be the amount of curry powder? I looked at other recipes after this one failed and most have a higher ratio of curry powder to turmeric powder…the other one I looked over called for 3 tbsp curry powder to 1/2 tsp turmeric powder for 1 cup of lentils.

    1. Hi Goldilocks~ I am so sorry this happened to you. Turmeric powders tend to be pretty mellow in flavor so I am surprised it was so powerful. You may have received a very potent turmeric powder because even the ones I receive from my favorite spice shops are never potent enough to effect it, it instead just gives it a really gorgeous color. Thank you for letting me know I will ensure to notate that in the notes so everyone knows that the strength of Turmeric and Curry powders can effect the flavor.

  6. I pinned this recipe about two months ago and have made it every week since my husband came back from his trip to Nepal and severest Base Camp. He ate Dal every day and loved it. I omit the Turmeric as my daughter is allergic and I add a chopped sweet potato! I also double the recipe and my Dutch oven is full! It lasts about 4-5 days and we eat it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. I had never heard of Dal until my husbands trip to Nepal; it certainly has enriched my palate. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Dorien, this comment..ahhhh it totally and completely made my day!!! Thank you so much I am so glad you guys love this recipe!!! It’s one of my faves too!

  7. So delicious – I threw in some left over roasted cauliflower (because why wouldn’t you) and I think it really added something.

    1. OMG totally why wouldnt you!!! I have another curry on here that is just cauliflower and chick peas and it is one of my faves!!!! Thanks for commenting Anne!!! I love it when my readers add their own twists!!

    1. Liz, like all lentils it certainly can. That being said I am not a fan the slow cooker as I find it really mutes the flavors. But I think the Instant Pot would be a great choice!

  8. Thanks for the recipe!

    “Bring to a simmer and reduce to low. Cook with a lid slightly open over medium heat for 20 minutes.”

    This instruction appears to contradict itself. At what heat should I cook the entire mixture for the 20 minutes?


  9. My first try at Indian food and it was a hit. I’m an improving cook so I loved that this recipe had simple ingredients we already had in the house and directions were easy. Only question was to leave the liquid with the tomatoes or not.

  10. We followed the recipe to the letter, and the tablespoon of turmeric(!) and Garam masala were just too strong to allow the other ingredients to be tasted. We’re learning that spicing Indian dishes should be approached delicately and gradually. Our turmeric was ancient and should have been mellow enough, but it really overpowered the dish. The lentils cooked for over an hour and they never reached the texture we wanted. Thanks for sharing this, well try again but reduce the turmeric and garam masala substantially next time

    1. Hi there! You may have particularly strong spices which would certainly effect the potency. As for the lentils never getting soft, they could potentially be old. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know their age sometimes 🙁

  11. I made this recipe today and I really liked it. Easy to make and I like having all that fiber. I will make this again but I plan to increase the spice amounts because I just wasn’t tasting it.

    1. Hi jamie! So glad you like it! Just remember…soemtimes if you cannot taste the spices it may mean that the spices are old. Fresh spices are the best!

  12. I stumbled upon this recipe yesterday and thought it looked delicious. So I made it last night and it was fabulous! I followed the recipe pretty much exactly with a few exceptions based on others comments. I did reduce the turmeric to 1 teaspoon. I did use the full four cups of broth. I used red lentils rather than yellow just because that’s what they had at the grocery. I rinsed the lentils but did not soak. I would say they were tender after 20 minutes but I kept them on the stove for about another half hour while the rice was cooking. Thus adding more broth. My wife who doesn’t usually find a vegetarian meal satisfying said she didn’t miss not having any meat in the meal. That’s a big deal! Thanks for the recipe and beautiful photos.

  13. Made this to accompany a chicken masala dish tonight–my family LOVED it! Thank you so much! So savory, nutritious, and delicious. Didn’t take all that long to make, either.

  14. Have you ever mixed the broth with Coconut Milk? I want to try it but don’t want to “mess” it up by doing so.

  15. Thank you for this great recipe, I just made it for my wife for lunch today and it was a big hit!

    Being a a bit of a lazy cook, I cut a few corners, but was still very happy with the result. Hope you don’t mind me sharing some of these simplifications.

    The store didn’t have yellow lentils but they had a 1 lb. bag of multicolored heirloom lentils. The whole bag came to just under 3 cups so I doubled the recipe and it all fit neatly in my 6-quart dutch oven. I used canola oil, and just chopped the garlic on the board along with the onions. The cans of diced tomatoes I used were 14.5 oz.

    (amounts are for a double recipe):

    * for the Thai chili: 1 tsp red chili flakes
    * for the fresh ginger: 1 Tbsp powdered ginger
    * 2 tsp powdered turmeric (I found this was plenty, I guess I have strong Turmeric 🙂
    * for the broth: 1 little jelly tub of Knorr chicken stock plus whatever water kept the consistency good

    I didn’t pre-soak my lentils, so the texture definitely wasn’t right after 20 minutes. Luckily I started early so I let it simmer for a full 2 hours and the texture was perfect by lunchtime.

    I’m glad I didn’t compromise on the lime and cilantro – they were key to flavor and presentation!

    I expect this will be even better as leftovers tomorrow. Will definitely make again.

    1. Thank you for specifying the size of the tomato can you used, The original recipe did not specify and all the can’s I had around were the 30 ounce “crushed tomatoes” from the local dollar tree. I plan to make this but the lentils I picked up were brown instead of yellow…not sure how much that is going to affect the flavor. I do have can’s of coconut cream which I saw mentioned in another recipe and they added at very end…thought I might try that. I’d also be making it in an instant pot so would adjust cooking times…and using brown rice (personal preference). The nutty chewy taste has worked well with the “instant” Jodhpur Dal packets I’ve tried.

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