Creamy, flavorful and so easy to make- this Sri Lankan dal curry is a total winner if you’re looking for an easy meal recipe.
Dals and curries are synonymous with comfort food, and if you agree, you’ve got to give this Sri Lankan dal curry recipe a try. It takes just minutes and a few ingredients to put together, and yet, the flavors are out-of-the-world delicious.
This dal can be a comforting, filling, and healthy meal for a weeknight dinner- and with the flavors so spot-on, the entire family is sure to love it.
Ready to give the recipe a try? Scroll down to discover more about it before you do.
Ingredients For the Recipe
You’ll need two sets of ingredients to make the dal curry. If you already have the curry powder, you can skip the first set of ingredients and proceed with the next.
For the Sri Lankan Curry Powder:
- Basmati rice: 2 tbsp
- Dry red chilies: 3-4
- Mustard seeds: 1 tbsp
- Coriander seeds: 2 tbsps
- Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
- Fennel seeds: 2 tsp
- Cloves: 5-6
- Black pepper (Whole): 3 tbsps
For the Dal
- Red lentils: 1 cup
- Onions (chopped): 1 cup
- Tomatoes (chopped): ½ cup
- Ginger garlic paste: 2 tbsps
- Green chilies (slit): 2-3
- Curry leaves: 1 sprig
- Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
- Red chili powder: 1 tbsp
- Sri Lankan Curry powder: 2 tbsps
- Salt: 1 tbsp
- Water: 2.5 cups
- Coconut oil: 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
- Mustard seeds: 1 tsp
- Curry leaves: 1 sprig
- Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
- Coconut milk: ½ cup
- Garam masala: 1 tsp
Kitchen Tools Needed
How to Make the Sri Lankan Dal Curry
Got all your kitchen tools and ingredients ready? Here’s what you need to do next to make the Sri Lankan dal curry.
Soak the red lentils in water for 10-15 minutes.
For the Sri Lankan Curry Powder, start by first dry roasting the basmati rice for about 30 seconds on medium flame.
Next, add all the remaining dry spices to the same pan and dry roast until done.
Keep the mixture aside to cool down and then grind the same into a powder. Store it in an airtight container for future use.
Next, take a pressure cooker and add the soaked red lentils, onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, green chilies, curry leaves, and powdered spices along with salt. Add water and pressure cook for 5-6 whistles or until the lentils are properly cooked.
Once the lentils are pressure cooked, heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin seeds, and cinnamon sticks. Let them crackle.
Next, add the cooked lentil mixture into the pan and mix.
Add the coconut milk and mix well.
Sprinkle garam masala on top and mix. Adjust the seasoning if required.
Serve hot with rice or any carb of your choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Red lentils are quick to cook, and that’s the exact reason why this Sri Lankan dal curry is usually ready within 30 minutes. That said, soaking can really help- it can allow the lentils to absorb water and soften, and therefore, cook faster as well.
In addition, soaking is thought to be helpful in reducing the amount of phytic acid in lentils, which are known to cause bloating. Plus, soaking can also help improve the mineral absorption rate of your food.
If you’re making the dal curry recipe in a rush, you can simply pressure cook it directly without soaking and still end up with a delicious curry.
You sure can. There’s a distinct flavor and earthiness that is unique to red lentils, and it is also much easier to cook with, but if you really want to try the recipe out with any other lentils of your choice, you totally can. Just remember that depending on the kind of lentil you choose, you might need to soak them for a few hours, or pressure cook them for a longer time to make sure they’re not undercooked.
This dal curry is actually great because it is freezer-friendly. If you’re planning to consume the leftovers within 3 days, all you need to do is transfer them to an airtight container and refrigerate them.
If you’ve made the curry in a batch and want it to last longer, using the freezer is your best bet.
Tips & Tricks to Nail the Recipe
Think you’re ready to give the recipe a shot? You might want to keep these little tips and tricks in mind to nail the recipe.
- Want your dal curry to have some more creaminess? You can add some coconut cream into it towards the end, or reduce the amount of water you’re using while pressure cooking the dal, and increase the amount of coconut milk you add into the curry to balance it all out.
- If you don’t have the ginger garlic paste that the recipe calls for, you can use chopped garlic instead.
- While this dal curry has enough heat from the green chillies and red chilly powder, you can also add a few whole black peppercorns into the tempering to lend it an extra depth of flavor.
- To make the curry more nutty and flavorful (with a bit of texture), you can add a tablespoon of shredded or desiccated coconut into it towards the end, and allow the curry to simmer for a couple of extra minutes.
- You can also loosen the curry up a bit by adding some more coconut milk or water- it all depends on your personal taste and preference.
How to Serve the Sri Lankan Dal Curry
The best part about this curry is the fact that you can pair it with any carb of your choice. Steamed rice and roti or naan are obvious classics, but you can totally go beyond that and experiment.
Since the dal is a classic meal, you can pair it with a side of potato and onion fritters or some baked chicken 65 if you you’re a non-vegetarian. Don’t forget a nice side of salad or some flavorful Indian-style raita and a dessert like this cooling mango shrikhand to finish it all up.
Easy Sri Lankan Dal Curry
Ingredients for the Sri Lankan Curry Powder:
Ingredients for the Dal
- 1 cup Red lentils
- 1 cup Onions (chopped)
- ½ cup Tomatoes (chopped)
- 2 tsp Ginger garlic paste
- 2-3 pcs Green chilies (slit)
- 1 sprig Curry leaves
- 1 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Red chili powder
- 2 tsp Sri Lankan Curry powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 2.5 cups Water
- 1 tsp Coconut oil
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 sprig Curry leaves
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- ½ cup Coconut milk
- 1 tsp Garam masala
- Soak the red lentils in water for10-15 minutes.
- For the Sri Lankan Curry Powder, start by first dry roasting the basmati rice for about 30 seconds on mediumflame.2 tsp Basmati rice
- Next, add all the remaining dry spices to the same pan and dry roast until done.3-4 pcs Dry red chilies, 1 tsp Mustard seeds, 2 tsp Coriander seeds, 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 2 tsp Fennel seeds, 5-6 pcs Cloves, 3 tsp Black pepper
- Keep the mixture aside to cooldown and then grind the same into a powder. Store it in a airtight container for future use.
- Next, take a pressure cooker and add the soaked red lentils, onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, green chilies, curry leaves, and the powdered spices along with salt. Add water and pressure cook for 5-6 whistles or until the lentils are properly cooked.1 cup Red lentils, 1 cup Onions, ½ cup Tomatoes, 2 tsp Ginger garlic paste, 2-3 pcs Green chilies, 1 sprig Curry leaves, 1 tsp Turmeric powder, 1 tsp Red chili powder, 2 tsp Sri Lankan Curry powder, 1 tsp Salt, 2.5 cups Water
- Once the lentils are pressurecooked, heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, cumin seeds, and cinnamon stick. Let them crackle.1 tsp Coconut oil, 1 tsp Cumin seeds, 1 tsp Mustard seeds, 1 sprig Curry leaves, 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- Next, add the cooked lentilmixture into the pan and mix.
- Add the coconut milk and mix well.½ cup Coconut milk
- Sprinkle garam masala on top and mix. Adjust the seasoning if required.1 tsp Garam masala
- Serve hot with rice or any carb of your choice.