January 11, 2024

Indian Lentil Stew in the Slow Cooker

Over the last few weeks, I've been a tiny bit obsessed with using my slow cooker.  I don't know why it hadn't occurred to me before to utilize this brilliant little machine, but with the cold temperature (both outside and inside our little old house with uninsulated plaster walls and bad windows) and lack of uninterrupted cooking time (courtesy of one energetic 2 year old), I have been scouting out recipes that are crock pot fool-proof.

Chris found a great recipe for Dhal (or dal or daal), which is a thick stew made of legumes (most often lentils) and vegetables.
Dhal is delicious over rice, or served with flat bread and maybe a side of raita, a savory yogurt sauce.
While this recipe is not entirely made in the crock pot (onions and spices are sauteed before hand, to enhance the flavor), it's still super-simple and tasty.

Slow Cooker Spicy Indian Lentil Stew (dhal)
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or 1 small minced jalapeno
  • 1 tsp crushed cumin seeds (I grind my own in a mortar/ pestle, but you could use ground cumin)
  • 1 diced carrot
  • 1 32oz. carton vegetable stock
  •  28oz (2 small cans or one large) of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups of lentils (I used black French lentils, which I had on hand. My preference would have been red ones)
  • juice from 1 lemon or lime
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • minced cilantro (optional, for garnish)
In a dry pan on medium heat, toast the spices for a minute or two, then add the oil, onions and garlic.  Saute the mixture until the onions are soft and caramelized.  In the slow cooker, add the onion mixture and all of the remaining  ingredients except for the lemon juice, coconut milk, and cilantro.  Turn the slow cooker on (high if you want the stew ready in 3-4 hours, low if you want to simmer it all day or night). 

Cook until the lentils are soft.  A half an hour before serving, add the coconut milk (adds such a rich, creamy consistency) and lemon juice.  Garnish with cilantro prior to serving, which I recommend over Basmati rice.  Enjoy!


  1. I absolutely love Indian food. I have a question though about the coconut milk. I don't like that flavor so is it prevalent if you use that?

  2. This looks insanely good! I make an Udipi-inspired lentil soup but never thought of adding the coconut milk ... bet that just adds an incredible dimension to the soup.

    Thanks for sharing!

    If you'd care to see my version of lentil soup, I've posted it here:


    On Friday I'll be posting another great soup recipe ... Corn & Quinoa Chowder.


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