Spicy Indian Lentil Dhal

Indian food is known for being enticingly fragrant (and delicious) and this spicy Indian lentil dhal is no exception. It’s a buttery, fiery, and wholesome dish – total comfort. And it’s remarkably versatile – serve it as an appetizer or side with pita bread or use it as the protein (lentils have plenty atop a simple salad. Seriously, it’ll take your healthy lunch salad to new heights of flavor.

Spicy Indian Lentil Dhal
Spicy Indian lentil dhal plated with pita bread

And the versatility doesn’t end there. Spicy Indian lentil dhal can also (and easily) transform into a fragrant and hearty soup. Just add some extra water to this recipe based on your desired soup thickness. You may also need to adjust some spices to fit – particularly the curry powder. And, of course, that cayenne pepper powder may need a pinch more to keep the heat at a comparable level.

This is also one of those “make on Sunday, enjoy all week” type of meals – perfect for those lunch salads! In terms of storage and reheating, you can store spicy Indian lentil dhal in Tupperware for up to five days. Simply reheat a portion on the stove or microwave until piping hot.

See it being made:

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Spicy Indian Lentil Dhal

Delicious as an appetizer or with salad
5 from 1 vote
Course Appetizer, Meal, Side
Servings 4 servings
Calories 243 kcal


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • 1 red chili jalapeno or birdseye work well
  • 1 cup orange lentils a.k.a. red lentils
  • 1 cube vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
  • 1 cups boiling water


  • Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. Stir occasionally until melted.
  • Peel and finely chop the onion, garlic, ginger, and chili. Add them to the butter then cook for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown.
  • Add the cumin, turmeric, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Stir for a few minutes until they become fragrant.
  • Crumble in the stock cube, then add the lentils and boiling water. Stir until the stock cube is dissolved.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes, topping up with water if required.
  • Remove from the heat and serve with pita bread or atop a salad.


You can also use this recipe as a base for a red lentil soup. Simply add more water to get the consistency you prefer. You may need to add additional spices to get the flavor to your liking. 


Calories: 243kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 13gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 63mgPotassium: 574mgFiber: 16gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 449IUVitamin C: 21mgCalcium: 57mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Cayenne Pepper
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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on April 13, 2024 to include new content.
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