Curried Coconut Dahl with Rainbow Chard

Warning: This dahl is not for the faint hearted! I was in the mood for something hot when I decided to revisit this old recipe that I came up with a few months, so I cranked up the heat with a homemade hot curry paste (recipe below). You won’t need all the curry paste, but you can use the rest in any way you like! I suggest using it as a base for a curry or as a coating for fried tofu or tempeh. This recipe also works well using shop-bought madras curry paste.

Dahl is one of my absolute favourite foods, and like all great dahls, this one is finished with a tadka; a selection of whole spices and other ingredients such as curry leaves and chilli, which are fried and added to the dahl at the end of cooking. I find that simple additions like curry pastes and tadkas really bring Indian dishes to life. There is really no end to the variety of possibilities when cooking Indian food. I love to use my creative license so I guess that’s why Indian is my favourite cuisine!

I usually serve dahl with plain basmati rice, but since this is such a special dahl I served it with a jewelled rice pilaf (recipe coming up in Sunday’s post) filled with dried fruit and nuts. The sweetness of the fruits contrasted perfectly with the heat of the dahl. Alternatively, check out some of my previous posts for other delicious side dishes!

This recipe is shared with Recipe of the Week and Simply Natural Saturdays.

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Curried Coconut Dahl with Rainbow Chard

Serves 4


3 tbsp hot curry paste (recipe below)

150g masoor dahl (split red lentils), washed well and drained*

75g urid dahl (skinless black gram), washed well and drained*

75g toor dahl (I used oily), washed well and drained*

400ml can coconut milk

½ tsp salt

100g rainbow chard, destemmed and sliced or chopped**

For the tadka: 1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds*

1 tsp coriander seeds*

1 tsp cumin seeds*

½ small red onion, thinly sliced

1 red chilli, thinly sliced

1 tbsp curry leaves*

  1. Place a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. When hot, add the curry paste and cook, stirring, until it thickens and darkens, about 3-5 minutes. Add the dahl, coconut milk, salt and 400ml water. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 35-40 minutes until the dahl is tender.
  2. Add the chard and stir until wilted. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.
  3. To make the tadka, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add the black mustard, coriander and cumin seeds and cook, stirring, for a minute. Add the onion and keep stirring and cooking until the onion is translucent and browned at some edges. Add the chilli and curry leaves and cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds. Pour the tadka onto the dahl and cover. Leave to sit for about 5 minutes, then stir and serve.

*If you can’t find these items in large supermarkets, they will be readily available in Indian grocery stores.

**When preparing leafy greens, I like to cut them chiffonade (this is a fancy term for slicin’ ‘em up good, but also somewhat neatly). To do this, pile the leaves on top of one another about 6 at a time, and roll them up like a cigar. Slice thinly to make long thin strips.

Hot Curry Paste

Makes about 6-8 tbsps


1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp caraway seeds

½ tsp black peppercorns

½ tsp cloves

½ tsp nigella (onion) seeds

½ tsp ajwain seeds

2 black cardamom pods

½ small red onion, peeled and chopped

3 hot green chillis, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2” ginger, peeled and chopped

¼ small bunch coriander (about 8g)

2 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp sesame oil

  1. Place a small frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the whole spices and lightly toast, shaking the pan often, for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Allow to cool a little and grind in a pestle and motor, spice grinder or coffee grinder.
  2. Add to a blender, preferably high speed, along with the other ingredients, and blend to a smooth paste. If not using a high speed blender you may need to add a little more oil or water. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

NB: Any ingredients you find difficult to source in large supermarkets will be readily available in Indian grocery stores.


3 responses to “Curried Coconut Dahl with Rainbow Chard

  1. I love dahl too, and this looks so tasty! (Btw, I have a curry leaf tree so I always have fresh curry leaves…I don’t know how I survived before I bought it! They are so rare to find here…) Looking forward to seeing the jewelled rice pilaf!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! If I ever come across a curry leaf tree I’ll snap one up! I keep my curry leaves in the freezer, because Jamie Oliver told me to (through the medium of TV, I don’t actually know Jamie Oliver!)


  2. Pingback: Jewelled Rice Pilaf with Fruit and Nuts | The Green Genie·

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