Tamarind and Coconut Dal

This dal has a bright and sour flavour which can be balanced in the sweeter direction by adding more sugar and by ensuring that the garlic is very well-browned before adding it to the lentils. Serve with plain rice and fried greens or okra.


For the dal:

  • 1 cup Indian brown lentils (masoor dal), washed and soaked overnight
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 level tablespoon tamarind pulp, soaked in 2tbsp boiling water and then pressed through a large seive
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar or jaggery
  • salt and pepper

For the tarka:

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 onion, finely chopped
  • 6-8 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1-2 fresh red chillies (optional)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander


1. Rinse the lentils and place in a pan with 3 cups of water. Depending on how old they are they could take from 20mins up to an hour to get soft. Add an additional cup of water if they get dry.

2. When nearly soft with a slightly hard centre, add the coconut milk, tamarind, turmeric, ground coriander, brown sugar and salt.

3. In a separate pan, heat the oil and add the black mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add chilies, onion & garlic and cook until almost burned, then add the ground coriander and curry leaves and cook for half a minute more. Add to the dal and stir.

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