Red Lentil Dal with Toasted Coconut Rice is a cozy, flavorful, plant-based meal filled with aromatic spices, garnished with tangy yogurt, and finished with bright cilantro and lime. It’s incredibly comforting, satisfying, and nourishing. The toasted coconut rice adds an extra layer of flavor and dimension, and it’s the perfect dinner to serve with warm naan!
Serve me anything with toasted coconut rice and I’m one happy girl. This red lentil dal is the epitome of cozy, healthy comfort food. The days are finally getting longer and the sun is starting to come out more (thank goodness), but I wanted to share one more warming, comforting recipe before we get too close to warmer weather! Also, I think we all could use a little bit of comfort food this week. The flavors in the dal are addictingly good, especially with the sweet, toasted coconut rice. It’s SO delicious and nourishing in every way. We all need it right now.
One of my favorite takes on lentil dal that I’ve ever had, was in L.A. at this popular vegan restaurant that I’m sure a bunch of you have heard of. Honestly one of the best mashups of Indian/modern comfort food that I’ve ever had. I loved it so much, that I put a version of it in my cookbook! This lentil dal bowl is a little different, and a little more simple, but SO freaking delicious.
I love red lentils because they get so stew-like when you cook them. They break down and kind of become this super creamy, cozy soup. I’m all for an al dente lentil that keeps its shape in dishes like salads, but for this particular dish, red lentils are what you want!
I mean, look how creamy!!
Also, you won’t believe how ridiculously easy this lentil dal is to make. It’s the kind of meal you can throw together on a weeknight with little to no effort. Another great part about it, is that the leftovers are fantastic.
Here’s how simple it is to make!
- Start by sautéing your garlic, ginger, and spices in some coconut oil. We want those aromatics and spices to “bloom” in order to bring out the best flavor possible! As far as spices go, we’re using ground coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cardamom. SO much freaking flavor.
- Next up, we add the onion, and let that sauté for a few minutes, and then we add the lentils, and let them “toast” for a few more.
- Then, we add the liquids. In the form of vegetable broth and coconut milk! And, a bay leaf for some extra flavor!
- Next, we bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer it, covered for 20 minutes, and uncovered for 5.
- To finish, stir in some fresh lime juice, and taste to adjust seasonings.
- For serving, I love to garnish with a generous handful of cilantro, Greek yogurt, and extra lime wedges. And most importantly, some warm naan. The BEST!
See, so easy. It’s mostly hands off, and so is the rice!
Coconut rice is one of the first things I learned how to make in middle school when I first started cooking. I’ve been through several iterations of it, but this happens to be my favorite. It’s just the right about of creamy and rich, but not so much so that it’s borderline risotto. The final addition of toasted coconut really adds to it, and gives it that toasty, caramelly hint of goodness.
All you need is a longer grain rice (my favorite is basmati), coconut milk (this is actually the one time I like using “lite” coconut milk), water, salt, and unsweetened shredded coconut, for toasting!
It’s SO good. I could eat it every single day. And this is another one of my favorite recipes with toasted coconut rice!
As far as toppings go, I love using 2% or full-fat Greek yogurt for this, just because the creaminess is tough to beat, and it’s so much richer. If you can’t do dairy and you want to keep this lentil dal vegan, you could top it with a drizzle of coconut cream, or even cashew cream!
I love serving this with plenty of fresh cilantro and lots of fresh lime, but fresh mint would be amazing here too! The key is to finish this dal with lots of bright flavors, because the rest of the dish is so creamy and rich. It really balances it out!
If you’re looking for more vegetarian/plant based recipes, I’ve got you covered:
Crispy Lentil Salad with Arugula and Garlic Yogurt Sauce
Broccoli Pesto Pasta with Roasted Vegetables
Harissa Carrot Dip
Butternut Squash Green Curry Rice Noodle Bowls
Cheesy Vegan Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Skillet
Vegan Creamy Mushroom Spaghetti Squash Boats
Curried Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Lentils
Marinated Mushroom Kale Tacos with Avocado Cilantro Sauce
Don’t forget to share a photo on Instagram and tag me @spicesinmydna if you make this recipe! Nothing makes me happier than seeing what you create in the kitchen!
Red Lentil Dal with Toasted Coconut Rice
Red Lentil Dal with Toasted Coconut Rice is a cozy, flavorful, plant-based meal filled with aromatic spices, garnished with tangy yogurt, and finished with bright cilantro and lime. It's incredibly comforting, satisfying, and nourishing. The toasted coconut rice adds an extra layer of flavor and dimension, and it's the perfect dinner to serve with warm naan!
For the lentil dal
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 of a large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 cup red lentils
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk*
- 1 bay leaf
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- coarsely chopped cilantro, for serving
- plain 2% or full-fat Greek yogurt, for serving*
- lime wedges, for serving
- warmed naan, for serving
For the toasted coconut rice
- 1 (13.5 ounce) can lite coconut milk*
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1/3 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
For the lentil dal
Heat a medium-large dutch oven or heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add the coconut oil. Once melted and hot, add the garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, salt, and pepper and sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onion, and cook for an addtional 3-4 minutes. Add the lentils, and let them toast for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the vegetable broth, coconut milk, and bay leaf and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Once dal has simmered for 20 minutes, remove lid and let simmer for an additional 5 minutes, or until lentils are thick and creamy.
Let dal cool for a few minutes, then stir in the lime juice. Season to taste with additional salt and freshly cracked black pepper, if desired. Serve dal over the coconut rice with a handful of cilantro, a dollop of Greek yogurt, lime wedges, and warmed naan.
For the toasted coconut rice
To a medium saucepan fitted with a lid, add the coconut milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the rice, stir, and reduce heat to medium to medium-low. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the lid.
Meanwhile, toast your coconut. Add the coconut to a small skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Toast, stirring frequently, until coconut is golden brown and fragrant (be careful - the coconut can burn in an instant!).
Fluff rice with a fork and stir in the toasted coconut.
*Full-fat coconut milk works best in the dal, but for the coconut rice, I recommend using lite.
*To keep this recipe vegan, swap the Greek yogurt for your favorite dairy free yogurt, cashew cream, or coconut cream, mixed with a little lime juice to balance out the richness!
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It is so much easier to just use authentic Indian curry powder (not the watered-down version from a grocery store) than all those ingredients. Whenever I see a long list of ingredients, it makes me feel the recipe is too complicated or hard. I caramelized my onions in the spice which made the whole thing taste better.
Spices in My DNA
Hi Celia! I do use authentic Indian curry powder in some applications, but I particularly love this blend of spices and amounts for this recipe. I’m sorry you thought it appeared to be difficult, but I’m glad you enjoyed!