Dhal / Red Lentil Curry in Sri Lankan Style

Lentils are excellent source of protein, specially in vegetarian diet. So, we cook dhal curry everyday and have it with rice for lunch.

This is the side dish which I cooked first, when I started cooking :) Not only me but most of my friends also cooked this curry as their very first food. This is a very easy recipe and you won't fail even if you don't know anything about cooking. So, if you are a beginner to cooking, this is the best recipe to start with. This dhal curry will go well with rice, bread, roti, puttu or with most of the main dishes.

Prep Time: 5 min     Cook Time: 15 min     Total Time: 20 min     Serves: 3


  • 1 cup dhal/red lentil (masoor dhal)
  • 1/4 cup milk (coconut milk is preferred but I use dairy milk - cow's milk)
  • 1 medium size onion (chopped finely)
  • 3 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 2 or 3 small green chillies -chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • pinch of turmeric powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder (jeera powder) (optional)
  • salt to taste
  • required amount of water (I added around 2 1/2 cup)
  • curry leaves/ coriander leaves


  1. Heat oil in a stir-fry pan and add the mustard seeds, when the oil is heated.
  2. When the mustards are cracked open add chopped onion, green chillies and cumin seeds and stir-fry it until onions started to become golden brown, then add the crushed garlics and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes.
  3. In a cooking pan add washed red lentils and water. Boil it until the dhal (lentil) cooked (around 7-10 minutes). When it cooked it will change the colour from orange to pale yellow and also expand in size.
  4. Add milk, salt, cumin powder and turmeric powder. Mix it well  and cook for another 3-4 minutes 
  5. Add cooked onion mixture, curry leaves and ground pepper and mix it well.
  6. Turn off the flame. 
  7. Serve hot with rice/ bread /roti /puttu.


  1. Required amount of water may vary with the type of dhal and the desired curry consistency.  If you are not sure about the required amount of water add 2 cup at the beginning and add more if it not enough (don't burn the dhal). 
  2. Don't add salt before dhal is cooked as it will slow down the cooking process.
  3. You can add chili powder if you wish.
  4. Crush garlic will give a nice aroma and flavor than chopped garlic.
  5. If you are not sure whether the dhal is cooked or not, just cook it for few more minutes. If you overcook the dhal, curry will taste so good (it may loose some nutrition but taste will increase).
Nutrition fact: Lentils are an excellent, inexpensive source of protein. It also contain dietary fiber, folate, Vitamin B1 and minerals. It is a good source of iron for vegetarian diet. Even though red meat is considered as an excellent source of iron, red lentils provide that without extra fat.

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