Authentic Sri Lankan Dhal Curry Recipe – Delicious & Nutritious

If you are looking for a dish that is healthy, nutritious, and absolutely delightful, then you have to try this traditional Sri Lankan dhal curry. It is rich, creamy, and wonderfully aromatic—honestly, it is probably the best lentil curry I have ever had.

This recipe comes from my dear friend Nadee, who is from Sri Lanka and knows all the secrets to making this dish just right. She sent me this authentic dhal curry recipe video below, and now I am excited to share it with you.

Why You Will Love This Healthy Curry

healthy dhal curry

This Sri Lankan dhal curry is a gem for anyone looking to eat healthy. Lentils are packed with protein and fiber, keeping you full and energized. The creamy coconut milk adds healthy fats without feeling heavy. The spices, like turmeric and cinnamon, bring anti-inflammatory and antioxidant perks.

Plus, it is plant-based, so it is perfect for vegetarians and vegans. All these wholesome ingredients come together to create a delicious, nutritious meal that feels just as good for your body as it tastes!

Taste and Texture of Sri Lankan Dhal Curry

lentil curry

Rich and Creamy: The lentils in this Sri Lankan dhal curry have a rich, creamy texture that melts in your mouth.

Aromatic Spices: You will taste a beautiful blend of spices like curry powder, red chili powder, and cinnamon, making it a standout among the best dhal curry recipes.

Comforting and Flavorful: This yellow dal recipe is both comforting and bursting with flavor, thanks to the fresh curry leaves and pandan leaves.

Authentic Experience: It is an authentic dhal recipe that truly captures the essence of Sri Lankan cuisine.

Healthy Choice: This lentil curry is not just delicious; it is also incredibly healthy, making it a great addition to your diet.

The Magic of Red Lentils in This Curry Recipe

red lentils

Red lentils are the heart of this Sri Lankan dhal curry, bringing a creamy, velvety texture that absorbs all the aromatic spices beautifully. They cook quickly and do not require soaking, making them perfect for a quick and nutritious meal.

365 by Whole Foods Market, Organic Red Lentils, 16 Ounce

For the best flavor and consistency, high-quality red lentils are key. When I make this curry recipe, I usually go for the organic ones above that I found on Amazon that always deliver great results. It is worth checking out if you want to try the same.

Top Tip: Rinse lentils, simmer on medium-low heat, and stir occasionally. Use a 2:1 water-to-lentil ratio. Check for doneness after 25 minutes. Avoid overcooking the lentils!

Perfect Pairing for Dhal Curry: If you love the rich, creamy, and aromatic flavors of this Sri Lankan dhal curry, then check out this delicious roasted paan recipe here. It pairs perfectly with the lentil curry!

Authentic Sri Lankan Dahl Curry Recipe

Recipe by Jen Evansy
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: Lunch, DinnerCuisine: Sri LankanDifficulty: Easy


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Get ready to savor the flavors of this Sri Lankan dhal curry! This dish combines creamy lentils with aromatic spices and rich coconut milk, creating a perfect blend of taste and texture. It is healthy, comforting, and incredibly satisfying. Whether you are an experienced cook or new to the kitchen, this authentic dhal recipe will transport your taste buds straight to Sri Lanka. Enjoy making the best dhal curry recipe you will ever try!

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  • Prepare the Lentils: In a large saucepan, combine 1 cup (190 grams) of red lentils, 1 small thinly sliced onion, 3 slit green chilies, 1 teaspoon of curry powder, 1 teaspoon of red chili powder, 4 pandan leaves, 4 curry leaves, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 sliced cloves of garlic, and salt to taste.Prepare the Lentils
  • Add Water: Pour in 2 cups (480 milliliters) of water to the saucepan. Stir well to mix all the ingredients together.Add Water to the lentils
  • Cook Lentils: Place the saucepan on the stove, cover it with a lid, and simmer on medium-low heat until the lentils are soft and cooked through. This will take about 25 minutes.Cook Lentils
  • Add Coconut Milk: Once the lentils are cooked, stir in 1 cup (240 milliliters) of coconut milk. Mix well and cook for an additional 5 to 10 minutes until the curry is thick and creamy.Add Coconut Milk
  • Prepare the Tempering: While the curry is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1/4 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. When they begin to splutter, add 1 small sliced onion, 2 sliced cloves of garlic, 4 curry leaves, 2 pandan leaves, and 1 dried red chili. Sauté until the onions and garlic are golden and fragrant.Prepare the Tempering
  • Combine Tempering with Lentils: Pour the tempered spices over the cooked lentil mixture. Stir well to combine everything thoroughly.Combine Tempering with Lentils
  • Finish and Serve: Remove the curry from the heat and let it sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve warm with rice or bread.healthy dhal curry

Recipe Video


  • Use Fresh or Dried Spices: To achieve the authentic flavor of Sri Lankan dhal curry, you can use either fresh or dried spices, especially curry powder and red chili powder. Fresh spices are more aromatic and can significantly enhance the taste of your curry. However, dried spices work well too—just ensure they are not expired and adjust the quantities to suit your taste.
  • Adjust Spice Levels: If you prefer a milder curry, reduce the number of green chilies or the amount of red chili powder. Conversely, if you like it spicier, you can add more. Taste the curry as it cooks and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Simmer Gently: Keep the heat at medium-low when cooking the lentils to ensure they become soft and creamy without breaking apart. A gentle simmer allows the flavors to meld together more effectively.
  • Coconut Milk Consistency: Use full-fat coconut milk for a richer and creamier dhal curry. If you prefer a lighter version, you can use light coconut milk or dilute the full-fat coconut milk with a little water.
  • Tempering Technique: When tempering the spices, ensure that the oil is hot enough for the mustard seeds to splutter but not too hot to burn the spices. Proper tempering releases the essential oils and flavors of the spices, adding depth to the dish. Sauté until the onions and garlic are just golden and fragrant to avoid any bitterness from overcooking.

Nutrition Facts

  • Total number of serves: 4
  • Calories: 310kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 28g
  • Protein: 10g
  • Fat: 18g

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Storing Your Dhal Curry

To store your delicious Sri Lankan dhal curry, let it cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. Pop it in the fridge, and it will stay fresh for up to four days.

For longer storage, you can freeze the curry for up to three months. When you are ready to enjoy it again, just thaw it overnight in the fridge and reheat it on the stove or in the microwave until it is piping hot.

Share Your Thoughts!

Got a question about this Sri Lankan dhal curry? Or maybe you tried it and have some feedback? Drop your comments or questions below or hit me up on my YouTube video comments, which I check more often. Let us talk about the best dhal curry recipe and share your thoughts on this authentic dahl recipe!

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About Jen Evansy

Nutritionist, researcher, avid home cook, and writer interested in everything nutrition and food-related. Striving to inform, encourage, and inspire all the readers to make healthy and informed choices when it comes to cooking, food, diet, and nutrition.