Sri Lankan Masur Dal with Tamarind, Curry Leaves & Coconut Milk

By • December 28, 2010 • 23 Comments

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Author Notes: A popular Sri Lankan Masur Dal dish that has a tangy taste of tamarind, creaminess from the coconut milk and the spicy aromatic flavors from the curry leaves & red chiles. Sri Lankan cuisine is a lot like the cuisine of South India. Curry leaves and coconut milk are a staple in Sri Lankan cuisine. You can serve this dal with steamed rice or chapatti. Please Note: All of the ingredients for this Dal recipe can be found in any Indian Grocers. - onetribegourmetonetribegourmet

Food52 Review: This dal was a quick, easy and delicious dish. It was spicy from the chiles and cayenne, creamy from the coconut milk, and tart from the tamarind. The only thing I didn't love was that it had some tamarind strings floating around in it. I'd recommend mixing the pulp with a bit of hot water and straining it to get rid of any fibers. I used the smaller amount of water, and found the consistency perfect to serve over basmati rice. I've often made dal with coconut milk in the past, never with coconut milk and tamarind, and I think that's the key here. They work together beautifully, and the richness offsets the sourness/spiciness perfectly. MaryMaryCulinary

Serves 4

  • 1 cup masur dal, washed
  • 5 or less cups water {please note: start with less water like 3 cups and then you can always add more}
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 6-8 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 2-3 fresh red chiles, chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon Tamarind pulp (use the fresh thai brand which comes in a block)
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander, ground
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  1. Put the dal & tamarind in a medium pot with the water & bring it to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 20-25 minutes. Keep warm over low heat.
  2. Add the coconut milk, salt, cayenne chile powder & turmeric to the dal and simmer for five minutes. Keep warm over very low heat
  3. For the Tempering mixture - Heat a wok or a heavy skillet over medium high heat and then add the oil. Now add the shallots & garlic until very lightly browned for 2 minutes.
  4. Now add to the same wok or skillet the curry leaves , red chiles, & ground coriander, mix well and cook for another minute or so. {please thaw out curry leaves and dry them with paper towel before putting them into the oil-it prevents hot oil from splattering all over the place}
  5. Add the tempering mixture of garlic,shallots, chiles, curry leaves & coriander into the dal.
  6. Simmer the dal for 5 more minutes on low heat.
  7. Serve with steamed basmati rice, naan or chapatti.
Jump to Comments (23)

Tags: Asian, lentils, savory, Sri Lankan, Vegetarian

Comments (23) Questions (1)

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3 months ago emcsull

so does anybody think I could substitute white lentils for masoor dahl ? they look as though they would dissolve pretty fast too.

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over 1 year ago Nyasha

Substituted (continued...)
1 onion for 2 shallots
3 tbsp crushed red pepper for 2-3 red chilies
1 tbsp tamarind concentrate for 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
1/4 tsp sage for 1/4 tsp tumeric

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over 1 year ago Nyasha

Made this last night to rave reviews with modified ingredients. Can't wait to make it with all the intended components!
Substituted:
Trader Joe's Unsweetened Coconut Milk for traditional full fat canned coconut milk

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over 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

On my list for the weekend . . .but wondering, is light coconut milk okay? Thanks! ;o)

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over 3 years ago onetribegourmet

Hi Antonia, I think light coconut milk should be fine! :)

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over 3 years ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Amazing picture, this sounds (and looks) so good!

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over 3 years ago Loves Food Loves to Eat

Also, wondering if I could sub tamarind paste for the pulp?

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over 3 years ago onetribegourmet

Thanks so much! Yes I actually prefer tamarind pulp more than the paste. I usually get mine from Thai grocers..Thai tamarind is the best..I think! :)

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over 3 years ago MaryMaryCulinary

Woohoo--I managed to get this one for testing! I am going over to a Sri Lankan friend's place for lunch on Saturday and I'm going to bring this with me.

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over 3 years ago onetribegourmet

oh wonderful Mary! it was my first time making a Sri Lankan dish..I'm not an expert..but it was alot of fun! please note that I made a typo error in the ingredients. last ingredient was suppose to be turmeric powder not tamarind. :)

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over 3 years ago onetribegourmet

Thank you so much for the great review! I'm so glad you liked the recipe!
Regards,
Sara :)

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over 3 years ago Midge

I'm so happy to see this. I got hooked on dal in Sri Lanka. Can't wait to try your version.

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over 3 years ago onetribegourmet

I would love to visit Sri Lanka one day! Thank you!

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almost 4 years ago onetribegourmet

PLEASE NOTE: My typo mistake: No Tamarind powder instead It was meant to be Turmeric powder. 1/4 tsp.

Tibet

almost 4 years ago CookLikeMad

This looks delicious! I'd like to make this, but I have a couple questions first: I see you call for turmeric in step 2 but it's not on the ingredient list. Also, where do I add the tamarind powder? Thanks so much! :)

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almost 4 years ago onetribegourmet

Thank you for pointing that out...it was a typo...instead of turmeric powder I typed in tamarind poweder...oh jeez. so you will need 1/4 tsp turmeric powder.

Tibet

over 3 years ago CookLikeMad

Thanks so much! I can't wait to try this. :)

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over 3 years ago onetribegourmet

CookLikeMad - please dont hesitate to ask any questions you have about the recipe! I hope the recipe turns out great for you! :)

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almost 4 years ago onetribegourmet

Thanks so much! :)

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almost 4 years ago gingerroot

Yum, this looks amazing...such a great flavor combination. Last night I made a riff on a Mysore Mung bean salad that I made in a cooking class, but I used tamarind instead of lemon. I'm about to post it...

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almost 4 years ago onetribegourmet

oh sounds yummy...I love tamarind..It's a staple in my house. I recently bought fresh tamarind pods, the taste is amazing! :)

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almost 4 years ago fortheloveofyum

lovely-the tamarind and coconut milk are wonderful additions.

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almost 4 years ago onetribegourmet

Thanks Nadia! xo