dal without tomatoes
| |

Dal Without Tomatoes

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Who doesn’t love dal?

Hands down, my favorite dal right now is one with red lentils, but without tomatoes or coconut milk.

Don’t make faces! This dal is truly delicious even without those popular ingredients and is a great example of how simple ingredients can be used to create something amazing.

This dal is also vegan-friendly, so it’s perfect for anyone in need of something warm and fragrant for a hearty but healthy weekday meal.

Read on to find out how to make dal without tomatoes and enjoy it to the fullest!

What is Dal?

Dal is basically a thick, lentil-based stew and a popular Indian dish.

‘Dal’ as a term is considered to be both a dish and an ingredient. You’ll see the dish for yourself, and as an ingredient, it refers to the split peas or lentils that are stewed by simmering them down until they’re nicely tender. Yum!

There are different versions of dal (the ingredient) but no matter which one you use the process is the same: soak them in water, drain them, and simmer until tender!

At this point, your dal is a blank canvas for fragrant and spicy add-ins.

Toasted cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, or a blend of these as we have in Garam masala are classic choices. You can use all the spices or just the ones you particularly love and make this dish a custom-made meal. 

The dal is ideal for people who are trying to bring something new to the table, without spending hours behind the stove.

It is a dish with the wow effect but almost effortless and suitable for even complete beginners in the kitchen!

The Benefits of Dal (By Ingredients)

  • Red lentils: Just as with beans, there are different types of lentils. For this dish, I have decided to go with the red lentils. Red lentils are by far the softest of the lentils and they break down when cooked.

This adds creaminess to the dal, even without tomatoes and coconut milk. Speaking about their health benefits and nutrition, red lentils are the best source of plant protein. They have 18g of protein per cup and 16g of fiber. 

  • Turmeric: Also known as Curcuma (the queen of spices) has been used in Chinese and Ayurveda medicine for thousands of years.

Curcumin, one of the antioxidant compounds found in turmeric, has been shown to help improve high cholesterol. High blood pressure, and help with inflammation. 

  • Coriander: This is an amazing spice that brings many health benefits. It is very good for the digestive system, so forget about bloating after you enjoy your dal! It also lowers ‘bad’ cholesterol and increases ‘good’ cholesterol.
  • Swiss chard: In addition to all these spices and red lentils, I have added a cup of sliced Swiss chard.

The Swiss shard is known to be a nutritional powerhouse and an excellent source of vitamins A, K, and C, as well as magnesium, iron, and fibers. 

Cooking Dal Without Tomatoes

Dal recipes nearly always use tomatoes – fresh, canned, chopped, pureed, strained, fire-roasted – any type of tomatoes.

The tomatoes are used to add some color, some flavor, a bit of tartness, and a bit of thickening to the dish.

Our dal, however, has no tomatoes.

Why? Just because it is possible to cook without them and I want to show you how. Plus, sometimes you just don’t have tomatoes on hand – or as many as you thought you did – but you still want a delicious meal.

All the features tomatoes add to your dal can be replaced with some spices. Even the thick texture of the dal is achievable without the tomatoes because dal is thick by itself.

So do not worry about cooking without the tomatoes. You can replace all the key features tomatoes add to the dish with no problems:

  • The color: Using red lentils will make your dal look as eye-catching as it would if you cooked it with tomatoes. You can go with green lentils, too, but naturally, your dish will be a different color and slightly different flavor.
  • The flavor: That sweet-tart tomato flavor can be easily replaced by using apple cider vinegar instead. Just a teaspoon will complement the dal perfectly and make it appear like it has some tomatoes inside. 
  • The texture: As mentioned, the tomatoes do give your dish a slightly denser texture. Still, the simmered dal which has broken apart will give enough of the needed texture, even without the tomatoes. So no worries here.

What Else Can Be Added?

As mentioned you can play a bit with the spices and use other leafy greens instead of Swiss chard.

Add some spinach or beet greens, or if you want you can skip them completely. If you have other types of lentils, feel free to use them too.

However, just keep in mind that while red lentils only need 30 minutes of soaking, other varieties may need to soak overnight.

How to Make Dal Without Tomatoes

Lentil Preparation:

If you haven’t soaked and drained your lentils beforehand, start the process now. They will need to soak for 30 minutes. After the lentils are soaked, rinse them well before use. 

Step 1

Gather your ingredients.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

Add onion and cook for 3 minutes.

dal without tomatoes, step 1

Step 2

Add spices and cook until fragrant.

Add lentils and cover with a ½-inch of water. 

dal without tomatoes, step 2

Step 3

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.

Add your cider vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes. If needed, add more water. 

Add the Swiss chard and cook for 3 more minutes.

Serve your dal warm.

dal without tomatoes, step 3
Dal Without Tomatoes

Dal Without Tomatoes

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This vegetarian and vegan-friendly dal is the perfect centerpiece for a hearty, delicious, and nutritious dinner.


  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 cup red lentils, soaked for 30 minutes, drained
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sliced Swiss shard or spinach


    1. Prep your lentils. Soak for 30 minutes. After the lentils are soaked, rinse well and drain before use. 
    2. Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat.
    3. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes.
    4. Add spices and cook until fragrant.
    5. Add lentils and cover with water with a ½-inch of water. 
    6. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat. 
    7. Add your cider vinegar. Simmer for 15 minutes. If needed, add more water. 
    8. Add the Swiss chard and cook for 3 more minutes.
    9. Serve your dish warm.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 bowl
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 219Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 28mgSodium: 286mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 6gSugar: 2gProtein: 15g

Up Next: The Best Kadai For Indian Cooking In 2020

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *