Lentil in coconut milk

Lentil or dal in this recipe is cooked in coconut milk , a blend of five spices and fresh ginger and garlic. Garnished with coconut bits and a squeeze of lime juice, its rich,sumptuous and healthy and puts the “D” in Delicious.

Ordinary folks…folks like you & me prefer familiar tastes- we’d sooner eat the same things all the time. Some food are so comforting that to eat them is to be home again after a long journey..and one such comfort dish for me is -Lentil in coconut milk. Its healthy, rich and sumptuous. All you need is a steaming bowl of this dal and some boiled rice for an easy trip down to your granny’s.

Lentil cooked in coconut milk and a special panch phoran or five spices mix

Food is memories isn’t it? I may not remember what I wore on a particular day or what color P’s shirt was on our first date, but I do remember what we ordered for dinner..I remember the way we laughed and looked at each over our glasses of Long Island Iced Tea ( yes, those were in vogue 8 yrs back :P).. I remember the way our hands met at the table..a little shy…trying to be a little bold..our feelings just spilling onto the table..and I remember having the BEST Thai styled grilled chicken and a sesame peanut noodle.

But once we got married things changed. Don’t get me wrong , we still look at each other with googly eyes.. well..I look at him..He’s more of the “strong and silent” persuasion. I say my words, he’s saving it all for my death bed probably 😛 But when I make his favorite meals, his mood changes..He becomes a different man, a guy who wants to share with you the oldest stories of his childhood..he starts reminiscing about his granny and we love our midnight couch sessions…

The fun of marrying your best friend is probably this.. “even if you have heard the stories a hundred times before, even if you know the words verbatim, you still laugh as hard when its  told again..you reminisce together…and invariably fall in love with the same person,once again”. Every married couple needs to have these chat sessions..and with us, it somehow always leads to food…and our memories of food.

lentil in coocnut milk 4

This dal was a specialty of P’s granny. He was raised by his nani till he was almost 7 and was a terribly fussy eater. This dal was the only way granny could make him have his daily dose of lentils which we all know are an amazing source of protein. Even today, the day I make this dal and serve him hot and cinnamon scented Basmati rice to go with it, I can get away with ANYTHING. I am thinking may be place an order for the Mark III?? 😛

It is a really simple recipe..and will take a mere 15 minutes from start to finish. Though healthy, I wouldn’t recommend on having this daily coz its got coconut milk, and isn’t really going to help you lose the extra layer of insulation like me.. (Trust me, I look as if I am piling up fat for the cold winters)!!

A simple five spices called paanch phoran goes into the making of this dal..a tempering of dried red chillies and cumin seeds, some freshly pounded ginger and garlic and creaminess from the lentils and the
coconut milk..

Get your plates out..Pile on the basmati, add some of this sumptuous soul satisfying dal/lentil …and simply dig in!

Bon Appetit,


lentil in coconut milk

5.0 from 1 reviews
Lentil/ Dal in coconut milk
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A delicious dal/lentil cooked till it reaches creamy consistency in coconut milk,tempered with 5 spices(paanch phoron). Easy & quick, it puts the D in Delicious and is all you need with some hot Basmati rice.
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4 servings
  • Arhar Dal/ Split pigeon pea - 1 cup
  • Water - 2.5 cups
  • Coconut Milk - 1 cup
  • Onion - 1 ,chopped fine
  • Tomato - 1 , chopped fine
  • Green chillies -2 , chopped fine
  • Ginger - 2 inch
  • Garlic- 5-6 cloves
  • Dried Red chillie -2
  • Ghee/Clarified butter - 1 tsp
  • Curry powder - 2 tbsp
  • Kashmiri Red chilli powder - 1 tsp (adjust as per taste)
  • Turmeric powder - ½ tsp
  • Salt as per taste
  • Panch Phoran or five spices - 1 tbsp
  • Coconut bits for garnish
  • Lemon wedges
  • Coriander chopped for garnish.
  • Ingredients for panch phoran:
  • 1 tbsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Preparation Combine all spices in a jar, store away from heat and light.
  1. Start by washing the lentils clean.
  2. Pressure cook the lentils for 5-6 whistles in water, salt and turmeric. Wait for the pressure to release naturally. Once done, open the lid and set it aside. Drain and reserve the water.
  3. Heat some (1 tbsp) oil + ghee in a kadhai or deep cauldron/ dutch oven..
  4. Once hot, add the panch phoran and wait till the seeds pop. Add the dried red chillie broken in half to it...quickly add the pounded ginger-garlic-green chillies to it.
  5. Saute for 2 mins on medium flame ensuring it doesn't burn. Add the chopped onion to it and all the masala powders, give it a saute for another 3-4 mins till onions are soft and golden brown.
  6. Add the chopped up tomatoes and fry the masala till the tomatoes are mixed in..another 3-4 mins. (Add just a dash of water if it sticks, it wont if using a non stick kadhai)
  7. Add the cooked lentils to the masala..give it a good mix.
  8. Add 1cup of the reserved lentil water to it, and the coconut milk. Adjust salt accordingly.
  9. Let it come to a boil ,then simmer for 5-7 mins till reaches the desired consistency.
  10. Serve hot, with a garnish of coconut bits, coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon juice.
If you dont own a pressure cooker, you can boil the lentil in water before hand.
Or simply let it slow cook in water and coconut milk till done. Should be done in 30 minutes.

 Use this Future pressure cooker for your regular use like I do. Save time.


5 thoughts

  1. I just sprouted some letnlis this week which would make them totally not work for this recipe. But I only did part of a bag, so I think I will make this with the leftovers. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Swayam, I made this recipe last night for my family and my best friend. It was an absolute joy to make, stirring all of those enticing ingredients together. And the smell was heavenly. I’ve never come across panch phoran before, but as soon as I’d mixed those 5 spices together, I knew I was onto something good. So very different to anything I’ve made before and we will definitely be enjoying it again very soon.

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