Sri Lankan dhal curry is a simple, delicious, everyday comfort food. It goes well with rice and any flatbreads.
What is Dhal Curry?
Dhal Curry is a staple in Sri Lanka and served with rice or roti, along with other veg or non veg curries and a sambol. Sambol is a spicy Sri Lankan condiment, similar to Indian chutneys. Sri Lankan dhal curry is red lentils cooked in coconut milk with some roasted onions, tomatoes and a few spices.
As with any recipe, there are many versions of dhal curry; varying in preparation to ingredients. Today’s recipe is a no garlic version with minimal spices.
Why Dhal Curry?
Intriguing and unique ingredient in this curry is coconut milk, which makes it unique from Indian dals. Grated coconut or coconut paste is common in some South Indian dals but addition of coconut milk is a rarity. Addition of cream or milk is common in some North Indian dals and those taste amazing. One such dal is Lucknowi dal, which I tried for Dazzling Dal series back in May but could not post the recipe. Since dairy milk tastes good in dal, it was time to taste coconut milk, hence this curry.
Besides, dhal curry is quick and easy recipe that comes together in under 30 minutes, which is a must have recipe for crazy weekday meals.
Sri Lankan Cuisine
The theme for this week is global cuisine and my choice is Sri Lankan cuisine. Sri Lanka is India’s southern neighbor and it’s cuisine is influenced by South Indian cuisine. Rice and coconut are staple.
Dhal curry is similar to Indian dals with minor variation. A simple, delicious meal I put together from this cuisine is kale mallung, eggplant salad and dhal curry with rice. For a non veg option, try some Sri Lankan shrimp curry.
Sri Lankan Dhal Curry Recipe
Sri Lankan Dhal Curry
- ¼ cup Masoor Dal ~ Red Lentils
- ½ cup Water
- 1 – 2 tbsp Coconut Milk or Oil of choice
- 2 tsp Coconut Oil
- ⅛ tsp Mustard Seeds
- ⅛ tsp Cumin Seeds
- ⅛ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- 3-4 Curry Leaves
- 2-3 Green Chilies cut in half
- ¼ cup sliced Onions
- ¼ cup Tomatoes chopped
- Salt to taste
- ½ tsp Turmeric
- Garlic optional
- Wash masoor dal and cook with ½ cup of water until dal is cooked but firm. This takes about 10-15 minutes.
- Add coconut milk and continue cooking for another 3-5 minutes.
- Meantime, heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, cumin, fenugreek seeds and let mustard seeds pop.
- Throw in curry leaves, green chilies, onions and saute until onions are soft.
- Add tomatoes, salt, turmeric and cook until tomatoes are soft, and mushy.
- Transfer onion tomato mixture to cooked masoor dal, keeping aside a some mixture for garnish.
- Check consistency of dal, add water if required, bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Garnish dhal curry with remaining onion tomato mixture.
- Serve hot with rice along with few other non veg or veg curries.
- Garlic – is an optional ingredient and if using, add some crushed garlic in tempering.
- Coconut Milk – I used canned milk. If using top layer, use 1 tbsp. If using coconut milk, use 2 tablespoons.
- Green Chilies – Dhal is not spicy hot and add more green chilies for some heat, as per heat tolerance level.
- Variation – Cook dal with some onion, garlic and curry leaves. This is in addition to onions and curry leaves that go into the tempering.
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