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5 from 16 votes

Sri Lankan Red Lentil Curry

Sri Lankan Red Lentil Curry. Creamy Dal curry Spiced with fenugreek seeds, cinnamon & black peppercorns. Coconut milk adds cooling creaminess. Easy Vegan Gluten-free Soy-free Recipe. No garlic recipe. Serves 2
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Sri Lankan
Servings: 2
Calories: 316kcal
Author: Vegan Richa


  • 3/4 cup red lentils masoor dal - these are split lentils (red/pink)
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/3 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1/3 tsp cayenne or to taste or 1-2 dried red chilies. California red for mild, cayenne or bird eye red chilies for hot
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 to 8 curry leaves fresh or frozen or dried
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped
  • 2 inch cinamon stick
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3/4 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup or more coconut milk or other non dairy milk
  • 1 tomato finely chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp shredded coconut


  • Wash and soak the red lentils.
  • Grind the fenugreek, black pepper, cayenne/red chilies, turmeric into a powder and keep aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add the mustard seeds and let them start to pop. Add curry leaves carefully and mix in. Add the fenugreek seed powder, stir and cook for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Add onions, cinnamon stick and a pinch of salt. Mix to coat with spices. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  • Drain and add the lentils to the saucepan. Add water, salt and coconut milk. Mix in. Partially cover and cook for 12 to 14 minutes.
  • Add in the tomatoes, lemon juice, taste and adjust salt and spice. Lower the heat to low. Cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Stir once in between.
  • Garnish with shredded coconut and pepper flakes (optional). Serve as a soup with crackers or as dal with rice or flatbread.


You can make this without onion by omitting it or using shredded squash instead.
Variations: Add more coconut milk instead of water for creamier soup.
Add in chopped veggies.
Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker:  Follow steps 1 to 4 (IP on saute, deglaze the onion with a tbsp of water or broth at step 4 if needed as the IP gets hot). Add the lentils, milk, water,salt, half of the tomato and lemon juice, mix. Close the lid, pressure cook for 3 mins. Then quick release after 5 mins. Fold in the rest of the tomato and lemon. Taste and adjust. Add some shredded coconut and serve. 
Nutritional values based on one serving


Calories: 316kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 893mg | Potassium: 806mg | Fiber: 19g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 675IU | Vitamin C: 35mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 5.8mg