Tamarind Red Lentil Soup

Sweet and sour tamarind, spicy chiles, and zesty ginger are mellowed by creamy coconut milk to make this tamarind red lentil soup the dal of your dreams. It’s super easy to make, and so flavorful. Pair it with some naan or flatbread, eat it plain as soup, or serve it with basmati rice.

This tangy, creamy red lentil soup, or if you prefer to call it, tamarind masoor dal, is one of the go-to meals at our house. It’s bursting with flavor, and a delicious light and bright change of pace from our typical masoor dal tadka.

It’s gingery and spicy with bright and tangy flavors and a rich creamy coconut base. We love eating this in the middle of winter, as well as when it’s 95 ºF outside. It complements any season perfectly! Make it spicier or less spicy to suit your taste buds, but don’t miss out on this wonderful recipe!

I actually adapted this recipe from a dish my husband used to batch cook in grad school. He’d cook up some spicy lentils, add in some form of tomato, then dump tamarind and coconut cream in until it tasted right. It’s cheap and easy to make, packs incredible flavor, and requires very little hands on time–in other words, it checks all the boxes!

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp coconut oil or vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-6 chilis, minced (to taste)
  • 1-inch piece ginger, minced (~1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups (400 g) dry red lentils, rinsed clean
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-3 tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • 1 15 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes)
  • 1 15 oz can coconut milk
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • cilantro, to garnish (optional)
  • minced chilies, to garnish (optional)
  • vegan butter, to serve (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large heavy bottomed stock pot over medium heat. Add onion, and sauté it for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the additional teaspoon of oil and the minced garlic, chili, and ginger, and cook for 1 minute, stirring.
  3. Stir in the cumin, coriander, and salt, then add the rinsed lentils. Mix the lentils in and let cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then add the 6 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of tamarind concentrate.
  4. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until lentils are soft.
  5. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer. Cook for an additional 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld and tomatoes to break down. As it cooks taste and add 1-2 more tablespoons of tamarind concentrate if needed.
  6. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice, taste, and adjust any final seasonings to taste.
  7. Serve warm with a dollop of vegan butter (optional), minced cilantro, and minced chilies to taste.

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