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bowl of red lentil dal with lemons and herbs on a table

Red Lentil Dal with Citrus and Herbs Recipe

This one-pot recipe is an easy winter warmer.

By Sarah Copeland

Warm yourself with dal, a flavorful Indian stew made with lentils. Feeling fancy? Top your serving with lemon slices, cilantro, mint, and crispy garlic chips. Or keep it simple with a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of plain low-fat yogurt. 

If you use a pressure cooker, your dal will be ready in about 30 minutes, but this recipe can also be made on the stovetop in a large pot or Dutch oven. 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes 
Gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian

Serves: 4


  • 1 cup split red lentils 
  • 5-6 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes (about 1 pound), cored and chopped
  • 2-3 halved green chiles, such as serrano or jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt

For Serving:

  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 4 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil, melted 
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lemon or lime, thinly sliced


  1. Combine lentils, 5 cups broth, red onion, tomatoes, chiles, ginger, turmeric, coriander, and cumin in the inner pot of the pressure cooker (if you don’t have a pressure cooker, see stovetop directions below). Lock on the lid. Pressure Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.
  2. Release the steam naturally (about 15 minutes). Open the lid and check. Lentils should be falling apart.
  3. If you’re topping with garlic chips, thinly slice garlic. In a cast-iron skillet over medium heat, cook the garlic. Stir often and adjust heat to avoid burning. Cook until garlic is crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer garlic to a paper towel to drain.
  4. Taste dal and adjust the consistency with the remaining 1 cup broth, warmed, according to your liking. Stir in the lemon juice.
  5. Spoon dal into bowls. Top with garlic chips and cilantro, mint, or lemon slices.

Stovetop Directions:

No pressure cooker? No problem. To make red lentil dal in a Dutch oven or large pot, cook the red onion, chiles, ginger, turmeric, coriander, and cumin in 1 tablespoon of oil over low heat until fragrant. Add lentils, 5 cups broth, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer over low heat until lentils break down, about 30 minutes. Continue with step 2, above.

If you make this recipe, let us know what you think and tag us in your photos on social media! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more recipes and kitchen tips.

Photographer: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Sarah Copeland and Chris Lanier

Reprinted with permission from Instant Family Meals by Sarah Copeland, copyright © 2020. Photographs by Christopher Testani. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

This article was originally published in the winter 2022 issue of Clover Living magazine. Want to see more articles like this? Subscribe to Clover Living magazine for free (if you aren’t already subscribed) here.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Kumar Dharmarajan

Published 12/23/21