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Masoor dal

Masoor Dal (Indian Red Lentils)

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4.8 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 3 to 4 1x


Masoor dal is a spiced Indian lentil dish that’s equal parts flavorful and cozy; serve with rice or naan bread for dipping.



For the masoor dal

  • 2 1/2 cups (1 pound) red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 3 to 4 dried red chilis
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the tempering

To serve (optional)

  • Flatbread (naan or chipati) or cooked basmati rice
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish


  1. Wash the lentils in cold running water, then place in a bowl and soak for 30 minutes in fresh col water. (If you do not have time to soak the lentils, just wash them before adding to the pan — red lentils cook quickly and so do not need long soaking.)
  2. Finely chop the onion. Mince the garlic.
  3. In a heavy-based pan that has a lid, heat the ghee or oil over medium-high heat. Add the dried red chilis to the pan, followed by the chopped onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until they just start to color (about 5 minutes).
  4. Add the soaked lentils to the pan, then the salt and ground turmeric. Add 5 cups warm water to the lentils and bring to a boil. When the surface of the water is bubbling, cover the pan, lower the heat, and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure the dal is not sticking to the base of the pan. Once the dal is cooked, place it in a bowl and keep warm while you prepare the tempering.
  5. For the tempering, heat the ghee or oil in a small frying pan over high heat. Working very quickly so the tempering does not burn, add the dried red chilis, cumin seeds, garlic slivers and finally, the curry leaves. Cook for a few seconds, then pour the tempering oil and spices over the warm dal in the pan. Next, take a spoonful of the dal and place it in the frying pan to absorb any remaining oil – take care while doing this since the oil may spatter – then tip the spoonful of dal from the frying pan back into the main dal pan.
  6. Serve immediately, ladling the dal into separate serving bowls. Serve with basmati rice or flatbread for dipping.


Reprinted with permission from Asma’s Indian Kitchen

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian