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

December 28, 2010

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 tablespoons 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
In This Recipe


  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.

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