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Curried lentils with kale and coconut

Curried Lentils with Kale and Coconut Milk (Masoor Dal)

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4.9 from 62 reviews


Adapted from Milk Street‘s recipe for Goan lentil curry (masoor dal). 

I’ve made a few small changes:

  • In place of fennel, I’ve used cumin. The two spices are not similar, but I like cumin, and I like cumin in curries. You could certainly use both.
  • I like to toast the cumin and coriander seeds and grind them in a mortar and pestle, but using pre-ground spices is fine.
  • I like to use two kinds of lentils: French green lentils, which hold their shape, and red lentils, which break down. You certainly could use all red, which is what the recipe calls for.
  • I’ve use kale in place of spinach.
  • I omit the coconut and tomato garnish.

Don’t be afraid to make this ahead of time — it’s even tastier on day two. Recipe doubles well, too.


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or peanut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped, to yield 1-1.5 cups
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin or fennel
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 31⁄2 cups water
  • 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 1/2 cup French green lentils
  • 6 ounces kale (or baby spinach), about 6 cups, leaves removed from stems, roughly chopped
  • fresh lime, for serving, optional


  1. In a large pot over medium-high, combine the oil, onion, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. When you hear a sizzle, cover the pot, turn heat to low, and cook, stirring every so often, until the onion has softened and is just beginning to color, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the ginger, the mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander, fennel and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the water, coconut milk, lentils, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the lentils have broken down, 40 to 50 minutes.
  2. Stir in the kale and return to a simmer. Taste and season with salt if desired. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate for a future day — it’s good cold straight from the fridge.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian