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 costal) 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 large pot over medium heat. 

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

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

  4. Add curry leaves and mustard seeds. 

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

  6. Add tomatoes and cook for 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 squeeze of lemon.

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