Ceylon Lentil Dhal with Coconut Sambal and Roti

If you follow my Instagram you might know that I recently travelled to Sri Lanka and of course one of my favorite things about this country was the food. Not just the fact that it offers so many options for vegans but also because it is amongst the most flavorful I have tasted so far.

In Sri Lankan cuisine, lentil Dhal is a major part of their breakfast, served together with a Coconut Sambal and Coconut Roti. For us it was quite unusually to have curry dishes for breakfast, but we adapted pretty quickly and soon it was different types of curry dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We never got tired of it. Even back home in Austria my appetite for curry was still pretty huge and I started researching different Sri Lankan Recipes.

I brought back loads of spices and other goods (tea!!) from my travels and came up with my own take on this favorite dish from my time in Sri Lanka, that even though is meant as a breakfast, you can of course enjoy for lunch and dinner as well.



*Please note that I am in no way claiming this to be an traditional Sri Lankan recipe, it is just my own interpretation of the food I ate there. Some of the ingredients or techniques might differ from traditional recipes as I am in now way an expert on Sri Lankan cuisine.

Lentil Dhal

Serves 4-6 people


  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 25g of ginger (2cm of a thick root)
  • 3 tbsp of ceylon curry powder (or a mix of ground cloves, cardamom, ginger, curry leaf, cinnamon, black pepper & turmeric)
  • 160ml or 1/4 cup of coconut milk
  • 240g or 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups of red lentils
  • 4 cups of water
  • a generous amount of salt


  • Heat up the coconut oil on a large pan. Mince the onion, garlic and ginger and add the onion into the hot oil and cook until translucent.
  • Add the garlic and the ginger to the translucent onion together with the curry powder and cook for 2 more minutes while stiring.
  • Next add the coconut milk and the tomatoes cook for a couple more minutes.
  • Wash and drain the lentils thoroughly until the water runs out clear, then add the lentil to the pan together with the water. Let everything simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked but not mashed.

Coconut Roti


  • 2 cups of wholewheat flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1 1/2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
  • a generous pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of water


  • In a large bowl mix together all the dry ingredients.
  • Then add the water and the oil and mix until a dough forms, then knead the dough for about 3 minutes.
  • Form the dough into a ball, place in the bowl and cover with a towel. Let it sit for about 1 hour.
  • Then divide the dough into 8 even pieces. Form each piece into a ball and shape small disk with either your hand or a rolling pin.
  • Heat up some coconut oil on medium heat and fry each of the disks for 2-3 minutes on each side.

Coconut Sambal


  • 1 cup of fresh coconut meat
  • 2 tbsp of chili flakes
  • a pinch of coconut sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 small onion
  • a squeeze of lime juice
  • a tsp of vegan fish sauce (optional)


  1. Place the coconut flesh into a small food processor and pulse until it resembles desiccated coconut.
  2. In a mortar place the chili flakes, salt & sugar and pound it for about a minute with the pestle.
  3. Then add the onion, ginger and, lemon juice and vegan fish sauce crush it with the pestle until a paste forms.
  4. Then add in the coconut flesh and mix well and pound it some more so the coconut flesh can release its juices.
  5. Serve together with the Dhal and the Rotis.

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  • Reply elle March 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    That coconut roti looks fabulous! I’ve never heard of this before. Thank you for introducing me to such a wonderful idea. Next time I’m making roti I’ll be sure to throw in some coconut and chili! Excited to try it out:D

  • Reply nishadv March 30, 2017 at 4:37 pm

    I love everything about this dish. What a great way to remember your travels!

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