Red Lentils in Coconut Milk

Photo by Kake_Pugh/flickr

There are many versions of dhal, or lentil puree. This one has Southeast Asian flavors.

Serves 6 with rice.


400 g/14 oz/2 cups red lentils
1 tablespoon oil or ghee
sprig of fresh curry leaves
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 strips pandan leaves
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 dried red chillies (optional)
1 stem lemon grass, bruised
250 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup canned coconut milk
salt to taste


Sort through the lentils, discarding any small stones and stalks. Wash the lentils and drain.

Heat oil or ghee (or a mixture of both) in a saucepan and fry the curry leaves, onions and pandan leaves until onions start to brown. Add turmeric and stir, then put in the lentils, chillies, lemon grass and half the coconut milk mixed with 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and simmer until the lentils are soft and runny, adding a little more water if necessary. Add salt to taste, then stir in remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk. Heat and serve with rice.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)