Red Lentil Dhal with Coconut and Sweet Potato

Dhal is one of my favourite foods ever and it is so easy to make from scratch. It is ready in 30 minutes, making it a great weeknight dinner option. Dhal is also super cheap and nutrient dense, making it the perfect plant-based meal for students or anyone on a tight budget.

As a twist on the classic dish, the recipe I’m sharing today includes some coconut and sweet potato for a touch of sweetness and creaminess. And it’s still budget friendly too, costing just 81p per portion (or just 54p if you make your own chapatis!)


  • ½ medium onion (60g) (Tesco, 6p)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (Tesco, 5p)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric (Tesco, 4p)
  • ½ tsp ground cumin (East End, 1p)
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder (Tesco, 3p)
  • 100g / ½ cup red lentils (Tesco, 29p)
  • 400 ml / 1¾ cups vegetable stock (Marigold, 11p)
  • 1 TBSP tomato puree (paste) (Tesco, 5p)
  • 1 medium sweet potato (170g) (Tesco, 20p)
  • 25g / 1 oz creamed coconut (Pride, 13p)
  • 4 chapattis (Tesco, 65p / home-made, 11p)

Total cost: £1.62 / £1.08

Per serving: 81p / 54p

N.B. Prices listed are for May 2024. I use Tesco prices as that’s where I do my main grocery shop at the moment.

Lentils are not only super cheap to buy, but they are packed full of nutritional goodness. They are a great source of protein, dietary fibre, a whole array of minerals (especially iron, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and copper) and contain plant chemicals called polyphenols, which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Lentils are also a rich source of prebiotics (food for our friendly gut bacteria which help to keep us in tip top health!)

Just a word of caution: If you’re not used to eating lentils, I always recommend starting out with small portions (half a cup or less of well rinsed and cooked lentils) to give your gut time to adjust, then after a couple of weeks or so gradually increasing the quantity.

There are many types of lentils, but red lentils are my personal favourite. I love their soft, smooth almost puree-like texture, plus there is no need to soak them before cooking. Simply give them a good wash under a running tap and they’re good to go. They are also a fast cooking lentil, ready in just 15-20 minutes.

Red Lentil Dhal with Coconut and Sweet Potato

This dhal is most delicious served with some warm flat breads. If you fancy trying your hand at making your own chapatis (Indian flatbreads), I share my home-made recipe in this post. They are super easy and cheap to make. It takes me about 15 minutes to make 4 chapatis (perfect for 2 people). I prepare them while the dhal is simmering.
Hands on time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Light Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2


  • 1 TBSP oil
  • ½ medium onion (60g) finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder or to taste
  • 100 g / ½ cup red lentils
  • 400 ml / 1¾ cups vegetable stock (broth)
  • 1 TBSP tomato puree (paste)
  • 1 medium sweet potato (170g) peeled & diced
  • 25 g / 1 oz creamed coconut chopped*
  • 4 chapatis or other flatbread

Optional side dishes

  • Some greens such as a baby leaf salad, sauteed kale or roasted broccoli**
  • Rice


  • Place the lentils in a fine mesh sieve and wash under cold running water, agitating them with your hand until the water runs clear.
  • Gently heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook the onion until it starts to soften. Meanwhile, prepare the stock and sweet potato.
  • Add the garlic and dry spices (turmeric, cumin, curry powder) to the pan, and cook on medium-low heat for 2 minutes. If it starts to stick to the pan, add a splash of water to loosen it. Add the lentils and stir through.
  • Add the stock, tomato puree, sweet potato and creamed coconut. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat, cover with a lid, and simmer for 18 minutes. Stir towards the end of the cooking time and add a splash of extra water, if needed. When the lentils and potato are very tender, remove the pan from the heat and leave to rest for a couple of minutes. Season with salt, to taste.
  • Warm the flat breads through and serve immediately with the dhal.
  • Any leftover dhal can be stored for up to five days in the refrigerator or for weeks in the freezer.


tsp = teaspoon | TBSP = tablespoon. 
All quantities are for level spoon measurements unless otherwise specified. 
* Creamed coconut is made of pure coconut and comes in a solid block. In the UK it can be found on the world food aisles (in the Indian and Thai sections) as well as health food shops and Indian stores. Slice off as much as you need then wrap the rest and store it in the fridge. It keeps for a very long time!
** My roasted broccoli recipe is posted here.
Keyword Budget Vegan Meals, Dhal, Easy Vegan Meals, Lentils, Student Vegan Meals, Vegan Dinners

N.B. The above values are estimates and for illustration purposes only. The actual nutritional values will vary depending on the specific ingredients used. The % Reference Intake (RI) will also vary depending on your age, gender, height, BMI, level of activity and other personal variables.

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If you make this Red Lentil Dhal, I’d love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for adaptations! Tag your photos with #bitofthegoodstuff on social media and they will find their way to me. You can also connect with me on my social media channels here:

With love,


This recipe is adapted from my original dhal recipe published in 2016 in the Bit of the Good Stuff cookbook.

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