Simple Vegan Red Lentil Tomato Dahl
Post first written in July 2013, refreshed and updated in November 2021.
Tomatoes, red lentils and a few spices made into dhal and served with brown rice. Quick, very cheap, and easy – what’s not to like?
I like the dahl just on its own, but it would go well with a crisp green salad, or a few cooked veggies. I cook this again and again, it goes great with other curry dishes as a side dish too.
How to make this easy dahl recipe
- Fry onion in oil and add spices. When turning golden, stir in lentils and chopped up tomatoes, and their juice, so oil coats the grains.
- Add the specified amount of water and simmer gently for about 20 minutes until the lentils are falling apart.
- While the dahl is cooking, put the rice in a pan with lots of boiling, salted water. Simmer for a few minutes if you are using white rice, or about 40 minutes if using brown rice, until just cooked. Drain well in a sieve.
This dish freezes well and reheats perfectly in the microwave.
This dahl features in Meal Plan 2 using couscous rather than rice.
What is tomato dhal like?
It is comforting, tasty and easy to make. It tastes of tomatoes with a gentle curry flavour, and a soft texture. Not pappy, just soft. I like it with brown basmati as I’m not that keen on white rice, plus the brown rice gives more texture to the dish.
You could serve it with a nan bread instead of rice.
What changes can I make to a red lentil dhal?
The garam masala adds a gentle curry type flavour and this can be swapped out for many different things. Use a half teaspoon each of ground coriander, ground cumin and turmeric, plus a bit of fresh ginger. Or use a teaspoon or so of any curry paste (NB this is not curry sauce, but an intense paste eg Pataks) to vary the flavour. Or use any premixed curry powder.
Use a green, red or yellow Thai curry paste to go in another flavour direction and perhaps serve with jasmine rice.
If you prefer split peas, use those, although you will need to simmer for about 40 minutes. Or use large green or brown lentils, or puy lentils.
Use ghee to cook the onion to add buttery notes.
Add a couple of lumps of frozen spinach, or some fine chopped carrot, swede or butternut squash, or any other vegetable you want to add. Not too much, just 100g or so.
More dahl recipes
- 125 g red lentils dry weight
- 500 ml water
- 75 g onions 1 medium sized onion
- 200 g tomatoes half a can
- 20 ml oil vegetable oil, ghee or coconut oil
- 1 clove garlic fine chopped
- 1 tsp garam masala Asda Rajah brand 100g/72p 4p
- salt and pepper
- 100 g rice preferably brown, it has lots more flavour, and more fibre too
- Fry onion in oil until transparent.
- Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute.
- Add the spices and fry for 1 minute.
- Stir in lentils and tomatoes, chopped up and their juice, so oil coats the grains.
- Add the water and simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are falling apart.
- While the dahl is cooking, put the rice in a pan with lots of boiling, salted water. Simmer for a few minutes until just cooked. Drain well in a sieve.
- Serve the rice and dhal, with a crisp green salad or some broccoli if you have any. Although super nice just as it is.