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Spicy Red Lentil Stew with Coconut Milk and Spinach

4 to 6 Servings

1 hour 10 minutes active

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Located on the southwestern coast of India, Goa is known for its use of chilies, spices, coconut and bright acid (an influence from Portuguese colonization). Split red lentils cook in minutes, making this a quick weeknight meal. Coriander, fennel and turmeric captured contribute complex spicing without requiring half the spice cabinet. Chili spice is tempered by coconut milk, and a shot of lime juice cut through the legume’s starch. Early and late additions of fresh ginger added welcome brightness and kept flavors vibrant; a wand-style grater was best for grating. If you can’t find ground fennel, grind fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle or a clean spice grinder. Both virgin and refined coconut oil worked, as did yellow and brown mustard seeds.

4 to 6



Don’t substitute brown or green lentils for the split red lentils in this dish. Red lentils break down as they cook, thickening the cooking liquid and providing the ideal texture for this hearty soup. Other lentil varieties remain intact even when fully cooked.

1 hour

10 minutes active


  • 1

    onion, diced (about 1 cup)

  • 2

    tablespoons coconut or peanut oil


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Bodi L.
July 28, 2022
Super easy and delicious
Quick (thanks to the red lentils) with lots of great flavors. I make it regularly, as written, and serve with homemade naan.
Kate S.
June 11, 2022
A favorite in our house
We make this over and over again for a simple weeknight meal. The spices are a bit different than most dal. And it’s great to make for guests as it’s vegan, gluten free, can be prepped in advance, and gussied up with various toppings. (Just be careful to mind the heat if you’re not sure if your guests can handle it… it’s come out spicier than I expected sometimes and I just serve it with a bunch of rice).
Kate S.

Great recipe, especially as it is vegan and gluten free. Definitely spicy, though... if making for a crowd, cut back on the crushed red pepper and serve with hot sauce on the side. I ended up serving it with rice and yogurt, more like a dal, to tone down the spice.

Karla R.

This recipe was easy and tasted great with enough spices for complex flavor but without using the whole spice rack. Adding the spinach made it better than dal or even dal tadka. I used Aleppo pepper flakes so it was not spicy at all. I did add black pepper with the salt when I tasted before adding spinach. Garnished with chopped tomato, cilantro and toasted pepitas. Served with naan and it was hearty enough for dinner.

Matthew G.

Just made this for dinner...fresh spinach from the garden market. Easy and delicious. Hearty enough for dinner. I like it spicy so used 50% more chilli flake and it wasn’t overly spicy.

Steve S.

When we add the spinach, we add seafood of some sort. Either farm raised salmon (Wild doesn't do well here), or shrimp and scallops. The intrinsic heat of the soup will cook the fish within a few minutes,

Michael M.

Just made this for dinner. All the spices, the heat... wow. Little effort for unbelievable taste!

Bodi L.

This was absolutely delicious. Ate it with homemade naan.

Elise M.

*Really* love this soup-- upped the spices a lot, but good recipe! I took the Chicken Soup class and thought that soup was so good, I'm searching more soups on your site. thanks!!

Emily S.

I wish Milk Street would provide nutritional amounts for their recipes!!

Christine D.

This is one of the best things I have tasted in a long time! I cut back to 1/2 t of red pepper and had some baby kale - other than that I followed exactly. Thank you!

Kyt B.

A lot of flavors for very little effort, delicious