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Red Lentil Dhal with coconut, tomato and lime from Fresh Spice

Red Lentil Dhal with Tomato, Coconut and Lime

A spicy dhal combining red lentils, coconut, zesty lime and chilli

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Dhal
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 164 kcal
Author Arun Kapil


  • 500 grams red lentils
  • 1 handful cashew nuts Add a few more if the chef needs to nibble
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon I used ready ground
  • 1 tsp powdered tumeric I used ready ground
  • 60 grams unsalted butter or 3 tbsp vegetable oil (I used this alternative)
  • 250 grams onions chopped into chunky dice
  • 2 red onions diced
  • 6 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli deseeded and finely chopped
  • 125 grams fresh ginger grated or blitzed in food processor
  • 2 400 gram tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar I used regular caster sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 600 ml vegetable stock I used Marigold Bouillon
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 bunch coriander leaves chop a small handful to sprinkle on top
  • 1 small handful coconut flakes


  1. Place the lentils in a bowl and cover with cold water. Soak for 10 minutes

  2. Dry fry the cashew nuts in a frying pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes. you want them lightly golden. Toss the pan regularly as you don't want the nuts to burn. When cool, chop roughly and set aside for later.

  3. Finely grind the peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds and cloves in a mortar and pestle. Then mix in the ground cinnamon and tumeric.

  4. Heat the butter or oil in a large casserole or saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger. Cook gently for 5 - 15 minutes until softened. I like to add my garlic when the onions have already begun to soften so that it doesn't burn.

  5. Add the spice mix and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Stir the spices into the onion mix so that it gets well incorporated.

  6. Add the tinned tomatoes, caster sugar, salt and coconut milk and allow to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

  7. Rinse the lentils well and add them to the casserole or pan. Allow to simmer while adding the stock. Stir from time to time to prevent the contents from sticking to the bottom. Cook on a medium heat until the lentils are soft. This will take around 20 minutes.

  8. Add the lime juice and stir to combine.

  9. When you dish up, sprinkle the dhal with the chopped coriander leaves, coconut flakes and chopped cashew nuts.

  10. I served the dhal with a pot of brown basmati but you could also serve it with Indian flatbreads.

Recipe Notes

A delicious recipe for red lentil dhal with coconut, lime and tomato