8-Minute Pantry Dal: Two Ways

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on July 21, 2017


I know, I know, just what you’re craving in the middle of summer…a dish that brings the heat! Did I nail it on the head or what? Well, maybe you can entertain this as an idea for a rainy, cool-ish summer evening. We enjoyed it on a night like that just recently! We’ve had a lot of rain and clouds around these parts.

I’ve been trying to come up with the fastest of fast dinner recipes, since cooking with two kids underfoot is getting more and more challenging. If it takes me more than 10 minutes of prep during the witching hour, it’s usually not happening. (I don’t know, maybe I should try batch cooking and freezing meals on the weekends, but I haven’t yet come up with a plan for that.) Admittedly, I’ve also been feeling a bit defeated in the cooking department because Adriana is going through an “I’m not hungry” phase (after going through a really good eating phase in the spring that, in retrospect, could’ve been a growth spurt!). Most of the things we offer her get a few nibbles taken out of them. Or she just exclaims, “POPSICLE, PLEASE!” *facepalm* So, my mood lately has been basically PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME COOK ANOTHER REJECTED MEAL. The silver lining is that Arlo will eat anything that isn’t nailed down (for now!), as will Eric (lol), so my cooking confidence isn’t totally shattered. I’m like, “SEE, NORMAL PEOPLE LOVE MY FOOD!” (I may be losing it.)


One day I just started throwing things into a pot and didn’t actually expect this recipe to be a winner, but it turned out to be really tasty, especially after a couple more trials. I love that it’s extremely fast to prep. My goal was 10 minutes prep, and I usually clock in at around 7 or 8 minutes (when I have my cooking game face on!). I also wanted the dish to rely on pantry ingredients, such as dried spices rather than fresh aromatics. Don’t get me wrong, fresh garlic, onion, ginger, chillis, etc. are typically my first choice, but they aren’t always practical for those rushed nights. Another benefit of this recipe is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand, so it can work for all the seasons. I, Eric, and Arlo are really enjoying it…and I’ve even convinced Adriana to eat a bit (it was a sweet potato version, and I ended up mashing her sweet potatoes into the dal and stirring in the rice).


5 from 49 reviews

8-Minute Pantry Dal

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free


This satisfying pantry dal is lightning fast and will only set you back around 8 minutes of prep time. While not an authentic dal, I created this version out of a desperate need to come up with more speedy pantry dinner options. You can change it up so many ways by simply varying the veggies you use, and in my tips I've provided an alternative spice option, too—I still can't decide which one I like better! Before you begin, I recommend setting out all the spices on the counter so they’re ready to go when you’re cooking. Also, if you have some on hand, this dish is great with baby spinach stirred in during the last couple minutes of cooking. In the photographed dish, I used 2 cups each of chopped zucchini and broccoli florets, but of course, feel free to use any veggies you prefer.

4 (with accompaniments)
Prep time
Cook time


For the dal:
  • 1 heaping tablespoon (20 mL) virgin coconut oil or olive oil
  • 4 cups peeled (if necessary) and diced veggies*
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) uncooked red lentils
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) water, plus more if needed
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can light coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) minced onion**
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) good curry powder, or to taste***
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Serving suggestions:
  • Cooked basmati rice or grain of choice
  • Fresh chopped cilantro leaves
  • Fresh lime juice


  1. In a large pot, melt the coconut oil over low-medium heat.
  2. Peel (if necessary) and dice the veggies into 1/2-inch pieces. Add them into the pot and stir until combined. Increase heat to medium.
  3. Add in the rest of the ingredients (lentils, water, diced tomatoes [with juices], coconut milk, all the spices, salt, and pepper). Stir until combined.
  4. Increase heat to high and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 18 to 30 minutes, until the veggies and lentils are tender; the cook time will depend on the types of veggies you use, and their size. Stir the dal frequently while cooking, and reduce the heat if necessary to prevent it from sticking to the pot. (If you’re using potatoes, I suggest covering the pot while cooking since they don’t contain as much water to “cook off”. You may need to add more water to thin the mixture.)
  5. If desired, serve over rice, and garnish with cilantro and lime (it’s still great without these additions, though!).

Nutrition Information

Serving Size 1 of 4 servings | Calories 270 calories | Total Fat 11 grams
Saturated Fat 8 grams | Sodium 480 milligrams | Total Carbohydrates 35 grams
Fiber 11 grams | Sugar 10 grams | Protein 9 grams

Nutrition info does not include accompaniments, such as cooked grains.
* Nutrition data is approximate and is for informational purposes only.


* You can use any veggies you like here! Whatever is lurking in your kitchen, feel free to try it out. A few ideas for combos include the following: carrot and zucchini, potato and peas, sweet potato and red pepper, broccoli and zucchini, cauliflower and/or broccoli.


** Minced (or flaked) onion is less concentrated than onion powder. Onion powder will work as a substitute if that's what you have on hand, but I would suggest starting with a small amount and adding it to taste in ¼-teaspoon increments to avoid it overpowering the dish.


*** I use Simply Organic brand of curry powder. If you don’t have a favourite curry powder blend on hand, you can substitute the following: 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or more to taste), and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional). Don’t forget to use the 1 1/2 teaspoons of both garlic powder and minced onion, as well.


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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

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Sahari December 5, 2017 at 1:47 am

Hi there — is there much difference between brown lentils and red ones, in terms of this recipe? Thanks!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 5, 2017 at 7:44 am

Hey Sahari, I haven’t tried it with brown lentils but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work! If you try anything please let me know how it goes.


Natalie December 13, 2017 at 4:23 am

Hi there, I tried this recipe out last night and it was very soupy and had way too much liquid. Any ideas? I did double the recipe but I doubled all the ingredients, including the lentils.


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 13, 2017 at 8:28 am

Hey Natalie, I’ve found it can be more liquidy when doubling this recipe, so I tend to cut back on the liquids a bit when doubling it. It also depends on the veggies you use (veggies like zucchini will release a lot of water). It also dos thicken as it sits overnight so you may find that it’s not a soupy after sitting for a bit. Hope this helps!


Samantha December 22, 2017 at 10:41 am
Recipe Rating:

I seriously could not believe how delicious this was because it was so much simpler than any curry recipe I had ever made before and tasted way more flavorful. Love that it’s quick and flexible so I can just throw in whatever veggies I have at the moment!


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 23, 2017 at 8:03 am

We make this once a week…so fun to change up! I’m so glad you love it too. :)


Sally Hills January 5, 2018 at 3:36 am

This looks and sounds delicious Angela! Love a healthy, speedy recipe 💛


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 5, 2018 at 8:27 am

Thanks Sally! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. :)


Supriya January 10, 2018 at 9:42 pm

Delicious! So simple, so flavorful, so flexible! Loved it. There are a couple of us in the house who are sick of dal, but this was such a creative and healthy twist. Loved the vegetable-to-dal ratio too (vs just all dal and a little vegetable). I didn’t have red lentils so used the green ones from the supermarket—worked great. THANK YOU!!!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 11, 2018 at 12:22 pm

Oh so good to know about the green lentils working great. I will try that next time. Glad this one was a hit for you and the fam!


Supriya January 10, 2018 at 9:43 pm

Forgot to ask—why is it called pantry dal “two ways”? What’s the second way?


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 11, 2018 at 2:16 pm

hey there! It’s regarding the two curry powder options, I believe:

(In the tips): If you don’t have a favourite curry powder blend on hand, you can substitute the following: 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or more to taste), and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional). Don’t forget to use the 1 1/2 teaspoons of both garlic powder and minced onion, as well.


Andrea January 20, 2018 at 2:23 pm
Recipe Rating:

Hi! I am in love with this delicious dish and it is on regular rotation in our house. I’m starting to think about Passover, which for many jews does not permit any beans, lentils, chickpeas, soy etc. Do you think I could make this without the lentils?


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 21, 2018 at 7:59 am

Hey Andrea, I think you probably could with a bit of adjustment! :) I would suggest reducing the liquid a bit, and you may want to add in another veggie to give it a bit of thickness.


Andrea January 21, 2018 at 10:59 pm

Thank you! I will give that a try.


Jennifer January 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Has anyone made this ahead of time and reheated it? Recommendations for doing so??


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 26, 2018 at 8:48 am

Hey Jennifer, I reheat the leftovers in a pot on the stovetop…works great!


Mary T. February 2, 2018 at 9:46 pm
Recipe Rating:

This is delicious! I was shocked because it was so easy to make. Wow!
I love these recipes.


Angela (Oh She Glows) February 3, 2018 at 10:19 am

Aww thank you Mary! I will try to do more of them :)


Jasmine March 13, 2018 at 11:01 pm
Recipe Rating:

Lovely! Would not have thought lentils could cook that fast (18 minutes) and uncovered. Made it tonight with carrots, zucchini, and bell peppers. Doubled the recipe but with one can of water plus the can of coconut milk.


Angela (Oh She Glows) March 14, 2018 at 8:15 am

Hey Jasmine, Thank you so much for the feedback! I love to double the recipe as well…otherwise it goes so fast. Enjoy the leftovers!


Crab Dynasty March 17, 2018 at 11:40 am
Recipe Rating:

This is such a good one! It’s our back up dish because it’s fast and easy to keep ingredients on hand! I make naan (because the kids love it) and we eat that with it


Angela (Oh She Glows) March 18, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Such a great combo!! Thanks for the recipe review…I’m so happy you love it.


Amber May 2, 2018 at 7:40 pm
Recipe Rating:

This recipe is pure genius! I have made it multiple times since it came out with different veggie combos. I even made it for myself on a yoga retreat, and it was perfect sustenance! I’d like to see more quick and easy entrees like this!


Angela (Oh She Glows) May 3, 2018 at 8:07 am

Thanks so much Amber! So glad it’s been a hit…I love changing it up too (actually I do so almost every time!).


Joy June 20, 2018 at 1:50 pm

I just made this for my lunch, since I had all the ingredients on hand. I love how adaptable it is! I used broccoli and sweet potatoes as my veggies, and then added a can of chickpeas as it sounded good. And it certainly was good!


David September 6, 2018 at 11:53 am

Hi! Love all your recipes and you’ve helped this vegan be able to cook meals my carnivore husband and a toddler can all eat and enjoy, which is no easy feat! Just wondering, do you think this recipe could be thrown into a slow cooker and left on low?


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 8, 2018 at 6:09 am

Hey there, Aww thanks for the kind words…I’m so glad to hear that! I haven’t tried it, but I do think you could make this in a slow cooker. If using onion or garlic as party of your 4 cups of veggies, I would saute those first, but other than that I think you could dump it all in. I’d love to hear how it goes if you try it! I will be doing so soon.


Amy McCann September 10, 2018 at 10:12 am

I thought this was an IP recipe but in the instructions it doesn’t give instant pot directions, it’s stove top. Amy I missing something?
Also, could I use canned lentils? How do I adjust cooking?


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 11, 2018 at 8:07 am

Hey Amy, Oh you must’ve seen my stories this week? I just got the IP this past weekend so I was playing around with this recipe in the IP. I do hope to share it once I get it perfect! Right now it looks like this dal worked well at 5 minutes high pressure with instant release. I used 2 cups cubed butternut squash and 2 cups chopped cauliflower and it was an amazing combo. I’d love to hear what you think if you try it out!


Marine September 19, 2018 at 4:03 pm
Recipe Rating:

I just made this after seeing it in one of your Instagram stories a few days ago… and it was so tasty! I already know it will become a staple in our house! Thank you Angela for sharing this :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 21, 2018 at 8:05 am

Hey Marine, that makes me so happy to hear! I’m glad you loved the pantry dal…it’s definitely a hit around here too :)


Kim September 20, 2018 at 9:00 am

I absolutely love this recipe! I make it a few times a month. Yesterday I had a crazy schedule with kids and activities and wasn’t going to get home until late. I dumped everything in the crockpot, stirred it up, and set it on low for 6 hours. It turned out great! I used 2 cups potatoes, 1 cup broccoli, and 1 cup cauliflower. Just before serving, I added a few handfuls of baby spinach and stirred until wilted. It probably didn’t need the full 6 hours – we could have eaten it around the 4 or 5 hour mark (or could have set on high for 2-3 hours).


Angela (Oh She Glows) September 21, 2018 at 8:01 am

Hey Kim, I’m so glad the pantry dal is a hit with your fam! We must have it a few times a week over here too. Thanks for sharing your crockpot method…that sounds awesome.


Alice October 11, 2018 at 3:33 pm

Looks delicious! Has anybody made this with full-fat coconut milk instead of light? That’s what I have on hand. I’m thinking I’ll use the whole can and a bit of extra water…


Stephanie October 22, 2018 at 7:11 pm

I was craving a good veggie curry and this really hit the spot! I used broccoli and zucchini for my veg as I happened to have exactly 2 cups of each on hand and a can of Trader Joe’s regular, not light, coconut milk. Also subbed half a small onion, finely chopped for the onion flakes. So easy to throw together (I honestly dont think it even took a full 8 mins of prep!) And fantastic flavor! I can’t wait to dig in to the leftovers tomorrow. This is one of those back pocket meals that are easy to get on the table. Will definitely be making it again. Thanks!


Angela (Oh She Glows) October 23, 2018 at 1:14 pm

Hey Stephanie, oh I’m so happy you loved the curry! I’ve been craving all the cozy curry dishes lately (hello, fall!), and this one is a staple in our weeknight rotation too. :) Thanks for sharing your swaps!


Sheri November 13, 2018 at 7:53 pm

Can you tell me how I’d make this in my instant pot?


Jen November 28, 2018 at 12:36 am
Recipe Rating:

This is one of my favorite recipes–so delicious and so fast and love the flexibility of using any veggies. Would love to see an instant pot version.


Angela (Oh She Glows) November 28, 2018 at 6:36 am

Hey Jen, An IP version is a great idea! Thanks for your review…so glad you love this one.


Kate Ramos December 5, 2018 at 2:44 pm

I love this recipe and have made it multiple times! I want to try it with peas and carrots tonight, but I only have frozen peas. After thawing, would I add them to the pot at the same time as the carrots? Or should I add them toward the end of the cooking process?


Angela (Oh She Glows) December 6, 2018 at 8:18 am

Hey Kate, Thanks for your question! I would add any frozen veggies at the very end since they will only need a minute or two. I find frozen veggies can become too mushy if cooked at the beginning of soup recipes. I’d love to hear what you try out! Happy cooking


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