People often cook red split lentils to make a soup or stew, serving it with rice, bread, chapatti, or poppadoms. Not only are these high-protein pulses nutritious, but they also cook incredibly quickly. This makes them an ideal ingredient when you don’t have much time to spare. In this article, I share a super easy red lentil tomato dahl recipe. You can enjoy it as a stew or serve it with a medley of other curry night dishes.


We might be forgiven for thinking dahl is a bowl of lentil stew because that’s what we tend to call it. But in fact, to confuse matters, dahl (also called dal) is basically a split pulse that can include lentils, beans, and any legumes.

I originally created this dahl recipe on retreat to be served alongside brown basmati rice, sweet potato curry, poppadoms, and mango chutney. It always goes down a treat.

Curry night by Anastasia on Retreat

“Curry night with red lentil dahl on retreat in Wales”

This red lentil tomato dahl only has four ingredients

Red lentils

Red lentils are an excellent nutritious choice for making super quick meals in your kitchen. They are easy to find in most grocery stores and cook fully within 10 minutes. Unlike brown, green and french lentils, you will find that red lentils do however turn to mush quite quickly. Mushy happens to be easy to digest and great for a stew on curry night.

Red lentils for making a dahl stew

“Dried red split lentils before they are cooked”

Passata (called strained tomatoes in the USA) and alternatives if you can’t get it

Passata is popular in European cuisine and being British I use it all the time. It is essentially sieved tomatoes, with all the seeds and skin removed. You can find it in supermarkets and health food shops, in a bottle or carton. Passata has a sauce-like consistency. Don’t confuse this plain tomato ‘sauce’ with tomato puree (UK) or tomato paste (USA), which are much thicker and more concentrated.

Different names for passata in the USA

What alternatives are there to passata? If you can’t get passata or strained tomatoes simply use chopped canned tomatoes, or blend down some whole canned tomatoes. Better still if you grow your own tomatoes, bake them and blend them down to use instead.

Garam masala for a hint of warming spice

“Garam masala is an amazing blend of aromatic, warming (but not hot) spices”

I have found garam masala to be an excellent addition to my dahl dishes. Even though garam masala translates to ‘hot spices’, the only blends I ever find here in the UK are warm, not hot. You could easily make your own blend up with warming spices such as coriander, cumin, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. I have found that blends vary hugely, with different spices and ratios. That said, most of them offer a tasty blend of warm spices that work well. I often buy a nice one from my local zero waste shop or health food store. See what you have available locally and go with that.

In the event that you can’t get a garam masala blend, you can simply use the equivalent amount of any of the above warming spices.

Easy red lentil tomato dahl vegan GF

“Hearty feel-good red lentil dahl ready to eat”

Tips for making your red lentil dahl

I recommend that you take a quick peek at my video below for a helpful visual guide on how to make this. The important things to remember are…

  • Stir the lentils a little to stop them from sticking to the bottom of the pan when you first put them in.
  • Strain and rinse the lentils to get the starch off to make a ‘cleaner’ feeling dahl that is easier to digest.
  • You can easily size this dish up and make a huge pot for a large group.
  • Your dahl will keep in the fridge for a few days. Any longer, then put it into the freezer.

If you want more curry night recipes to go with your dahl…

The red lentil dahl recipe and video are directly below. If you would like to find more curry night recipes then please visit my article here for lots of delicious vegan and gluten-free recipes…

Vegan Curry Night Recipes to go with Red Lentil Dahl

Curry night by Anastasia on Retreat

Super easy red lentil tomato dahl - vegan

Yield: 4 to 6 portions
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

An easy red lentil and tomato dahl recipe using only four ingredients. Quick to make, freezes well and ideal for large groups.



  1. Cook the lentils in the water for up to 10 minutes with the lid on the pan. Stir the lentils a little as they come to the boil to stop them from sticking to the bottom. Cook with the lid on, and give them a stir a couple of times to allow even cooking. They should only take 10 minutes to fully cook, and may even be ready before. They will absorb most of or all of the water and you will see them starting to turn to mush.
  2. Strain your lentils in a fine-meshed strainer, rinsing the starch off with running water and jiggling the lentils around with a spoon.
  3. Put your lentils back into the pan for the final stage.
  4. Add the passata. If you do not have passata then use a can of chopped tomatoes. Alternatively, blend a can of whole tomatoes or bake and blend your own from scratch.
  5. Add the garam masala and sea salt. You can adjust these to your own preferred taste. Add more if you prefer.
  6. Cook the ingredients in the pan putting the lid on the pan. Stir several times as the ingredients dance together. This should be cooked within 5 minutes. If you prefer, leave it simmering on low for a further 20 minutes or so.
  7. If you want it extra creamy then add a can, of coconut milk. This is not listed in the original ingredients but does work very nicely if you want to make it fancier.

Did you make this recipe?

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More easy recipes for your vegan curry night…
Vegan curry recipes - gluten-free, healthy vegan for your curry night

Pin the red lentil dhal recipe for later…

Easy red lentil and tomato dahl. Quick, nutritious and delicious.