Savory, sweet, and fragrant mango dahl with red lentils, fresh mangos, and a toasted 4-spice mix is an easy plant-based hearty soup meal ready 45 minutes or less from prep to table.
sunshine and sustenance
If you eat with your eyes, then you should expect a hit of sunshine the minute the spoon hits your mouth with a bite of this creamy, irresistible dahl.
What happens next. Not just another bite, that’s a given. You get to renew your body and soul nourishment that’s as honest as the beautiful color.
One reason we love red lentils is the cooking time. It’s short - 15 minutes short. But in your cooking haste, don’t discount what red lentils do for you once they hit your insides. They are packed with nutrients. 11.5 grams of protein, 21 grams of fiber, and substantial efforts toward your daily required intake of calcium, iron, folate, zinc, magnesium, and potassium – in every ¼ of a dry cup! Oh, and that ¼ a cup? Try 1 gram of fat.
If you need a further reason to celebrate, red lentils are inexpensive and readily available. If you store them in a moisture-free container and keep them dry, they last for years in the pantry.
With all that to celebrate, let’s shine the light on another yummy lentil dal.
The dahl 4-spice is best if the spices are first toasted and then ground either in a spice grinder. You can also use a mortar and pestle. After you get the spice mix ready, there are a few additional flavor-ups to add as well. Here’s what you’ll need:
Coconut flakes – Use desiccated, shredded, or coconut flakes. Be sure whatever you use that it’s unsweetened.
Sesame seeds – Use plain old raw sesame seeds. You know, the kind you use for making tahini. There won’t be enough to raise the calorie count, just a dab of sesame flavor.
Coriander seeds – Coriander seeds are earthy and a bit floral in flavor. They taste nothing like cilantro, so don’t judge the taste using this as a guide.
Cumin seeds – Cumin seeds are sweet and bitter at the same time. Yes, you could use ground cumin, but the toasted seeds are just so much better!
Turmeric – Because turmeric is already ground, it will get added to the dal directly. Turmeric doesn’t just add beautiful color to enhance the mangos and red lentils (there's a sunshine theme happening).
Turmeric is the ‘stuff’ of curry powder. It’s a bit musky and peppery, as well as earthy and slightly bitter.
Red chili flakes – Normally, I’d add dried chilies to the curry spice mix and get on with it. But spicy is personal, so I recommend adding a teaspoon to start. After the dal is cooked, taste and adjust. This keeps things simple.
Nutmeg – Yes, nutmeg. You can grate a tiny bit right into the pot or add ⅛ of a teaspoon. Nutmeg compliments the mango flavor and gives this dal a little something special.
the dal ingredients
Red onion & Garlic – Red onions are kind of perfect in dal. They are mellow and sweet. Just enough flavor with the garlic to get the aromatics happening.
Mangos – This curry is all about fresh mangos. The good news is that they don’t need to be perfectly diced.
I even debate myself about the best way to dice mangos. I’m sure there a 'right way. You can peel them carefully with a knife. Then cut away the flesh and cube the pieces. Or, cut away two sections on either side of the pit, dice the mango in the skins, then cut it away. I’ve also tried a few mango peelers. I’ll leave that to you if you have one.
My point is to be careful handling mangos. Once peeled, they can get very slippery. And then there’s you, knife in hand. Be careful.
Red lentils – Split red lentils break down more quickly and yield a creamy texture than whole red lentils. You can use either. Allow another 10 minutes if using whole lentils. Keep an eye out if you need to add more liquid.
Vegetable broth – Use a good quality vegetable broth for a fuller flavor. I’ve used water for this recipe, but I found the final taste was a bit bland. Vegetable broth solved that.
Cilantro – I’ve made this optional because this dal is delicious with or without it. You should never add an ingredient that tastes like soap to you. Yes, soap. No judgment from me. Skip it if you don’t like it.
Lime juice – Lime is a good pairing for anything mango because it subtly cuts the sweetness with a jolt of fresh flavor.
Start this recipe by preparing the 4-spice mixture. Toast the coconut, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds in a small frying pan for 1 minute. Be sure to stir them constantly as it’s easy to burn them.
Remove the spices immediately from the pan to stop the cooking process, then transfer them to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Grind the mixture a few times – you can even leave them a little chunky for texture.
The biggest prepping comes from the mangos. As stated above, I am not precious about how you get the mangos diced.
I usually cut two big slices from either side of the pit, then dice the flesh and remove it from the skin. I also take a moment to catch any little bits of mango flesh still clinging to the pit.
It isn’t unusual that the pits are added to the cooking pot and then removed before serving. Every little bit of mango counts!
Once you get the seasoning and mango ready, this recipe is a breeze.
Saute the red onion for a few minutes to allow it to soften and release the sugars.
Add the garlic, spice mix, turmeric, red chili flakes (if using), and nutmeg. Then, add the mango, lentils, and broth.
Now, I’m going to advise that you cook this without a lid. The lentils will take 15 minutes, and you want access to the pot to mash some of the mangoes as it cooks. The pot lid just gets in the way.
Once the lentils are tender, stir in the cilantro. A few squeezes of lime juice, and you are set!
Red lentils, in particular, split red lentils do not require soaking. If you choose to soak whole red lentils, this can cut their cooking time by about half.
Split red lentils are red lentils that have the outer seed coating removed and are split in half. This is why they cook so quickly and get creamy and mushy. Whole red lentils maintain their integrity after cooking.
Frozen or pre-cut mango can be used to replace fresh for this creamy dahl. Be sure you thaw the mango before adding it to the lentils. If you don’t cut back on the vegetable broth. Be sure that the mangos are in bit-sized pieces before adding them.
The best way to reheat mango dahl is either in the microwave or in a small pan on the stovetop. Be sure to mix in a bit of vegetable broth or water and set the heat to low as cooked red lentils can stick.
what to sever with mango dahl
Mango dahl is a meal unto itself, so we like to serve it up with a few sides. Whole wheat potato tortillas or pita bread is a great option. Consider simple salads like spicy cucumber salad or a tomato pomegranate. Another easy option that’s always a hit – a big bowl of hummus with veggies.
other red lentil recipes you might like
mango dahl with 4-spice mix
Mango dahl is savory, sweet, and fragrant is an easy, plant-based hearty soup meal that’s ready in less than 45 minutes from prep to table.
- Prep Time: 20 min
- Cook Time: 20 min
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 4
- Category: soups
- Cuisine: Indian
- Diet: Vegan
4- spice mix
- 2 Tbsp. coconut flakes
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 1 ½ tsp. coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
For the Dal
- 1 red onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. 4-spice mix
- ½ tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. red chili flakes (more if you like it spicy)
- ⅛ tsp. nutmeg
- 2 cups split red lentils, rinsed
- 2 fresh mangos, peeled and cubed (3 cups)
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
- ½ a fresh lime or 2 teaspoons of lime juice
- To make the 4-spice mixture, heat a small frying pan and add the coconut, sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds. Toast the seeds for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove the spices from the pan, transfer them to a spice grinder or mortar. Break up the spices. Set aside.
- Heat a medium pot and add the red onion. Saute for 3-5 minutes until the onion starts to soften.
- Add the garlic, 1 tablespoon of the 4-spice mixture, ½ tsp. of turmeric, 1 tsp. of red chili flakes, and ⅛ a teaspoon of nutmeg. Mix the spices into the vegetables.
- Add the red lentils, mango cubes, and vegetable broth. Bring the pot to boiling, then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the dahl uncovered until the lentils are tender and mushy. Use a wooden spoon to mash some of the mangoes to bring forward the flavor.
- If the lentils are not tender and the liquid absorbed or if you want the dahl creamier, add more vegetable broth and cook for 5 extra minutes. The longer you cook split red lentils, the more they will break down.
- Taste the dahl and add more of the spice mixture, salt (if desired), or red chili flakes. Stir in the chopped cilantro and add 2 teaspoons of lime juice (½ a fresh lime).
- Give the dahl a final stir and serve it in bowls with additional chopped cilantro, lime wedges, or red chili flakes.
- Use coconut flakes, desiccated coconut, or shredded coconut for this recipe. Just be sure that it is unsweetened.
- Make the 4-spice mix up to a week ahead. Store it in a jar or sealed container.
- If you use whole red lentils (unsplit), use the same amount, but allow for 10 extra minutes of cooking time. You may need to add more broth as the cooking progresses. Soaking red lentils is unnecessary. If you soak whole lentils, it will cut the cooking time to about half.
Keywords: mango curry with 4-spice mix