South Indian-Style Dal


South Indian-Style Dal

The flavors of Indian food are very diverse -- in North India families use a lot of dairy, wheat, and cumin seeds, whereas in South India (which is more coastal) food is often flavored with coconut milk, curry leaves, and mustard seeds. This one-pot dal is absolutely bursting with South Indian flavors like curry leaves, mustard seeds, and coconut milk. My family enjoys eating it with some steamed basmati rice.  

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Servings: 6


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion (diced)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 jalapeno (de-seeded, finely chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves (finely chopped, save some for garnish)
  • 6 leaves curry
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 tomato (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 1 lemon (juice)


  1. Place a large pot over medium heat. 

  2. Add olive oil, onions, ginger, and jalapenos. 

  3. Add a couple of pinches of salt then cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are fully cooked.

  4. Add curry leaves and mustard seeds. 

  5. When mustard seeds start to pop, add the rest of the spices and garlic, then cook until fragrant. 

  6. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

  7. Add lentils, stock, and coconut milk, and when bubbling starts reduce heat to low.

  8. Let dal bubble away until lentils collapse and dal becomes creamy (about 20 minutes). 

  9. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary, then add a squeeze of lemon.

  10. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with rice and naan.


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  • Ashish Patel

    Hello, Awesome Article, and Your information about the south india style dal is very amazing and so much useful for me. Keep it up and thank you very much.:)

  • LKM

    Very good, just what I was looking for! Made the recipe just as written (but doubled). Hubby and I both love it!

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