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Meera’s Quick coconut dhal with tomato sambol

An easy dhal recipe can be a quick way to cook something tasty, while keeping your time free for other things. This recipe comes from one talented chef, Meera Sodha who praises this dish as a quick fixer-upper. It only needs 5 minutes or so hands-on work and the rest can be left to simmer.

Serves 2 Total Time 40 mins


Get the ingredients here.

  • 1tbsp rapeseed oil 
  • 1 red onion, very finely chopped 
  • 10 dried curry leaves (optional) 
  • 2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • 1green chilli, very finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stick, cut in half on an angle 
  • 1 cinnamon stick,broken in half 
  • 150g red lentils
  • 1/3tsp ground turmeric 
  • 400ml coconut milk 
  • 11⁄4tsp salt 
  • 1⁄2tbsp lime juice

Ingredients for the sambol

  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 1 red chilli, very finely chopped 
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, chopped 
  • 1tbsp lime juice 
  • 1⁄2tsp salt


  1. First, make the dhal. Heat oil in a saucepan and add three-quarters of the onion, the curry leaves, garlic, chilli, lemongrass and cinnamon. 
  2. Fry for 5 mins, then stir in the lentils and turmeric. 
  3. Add the coconut milk and 400ml of water (fill up the empty coconut tin to measure it).
  4. Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for around 20-25 mins, until the lentils are no longer chalky and are tender to the bite.
  5. Add more water if it’s too thick, then season with the salt and lime.
  6. While the dhal is cooking, make the sambol. Place the desiccated coconut into a heatproof bowl. Pour in 3 tbsp freshly boiled water and stir to mix.
  7. Add the reserved onion, chilli, tomatoes, lime juice and salt. Mix, taste, and add more salt to balance if need be.
  8. To serve the dhal, fish out the cinnamon stick and lemongrass pieces if you wish. Serve with rice or paratha, with the sambol over the top or on the side.

Originally published in EAST: 120 vegan & vegetarian recipes from Bangalore to Beijing by Meera Sodha

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