Dec 7, 2020

Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Masoor Dal is a thick Indian spiced red lentil stew seasoned with warm fragrant spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon.

The word “dal” refers to “split lentils” not lentils in general as the word is typically used to describe all lentil dishes in Indian cuisine. They are many different variations on dal using different types of lentils. I like using red lentils because of their creamy texture. This vegetarian entrée comes together in under an hour for a quick and easy dinner made from pantry staples and a few spices.

Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Lentils – Red split lentils are traditionally used in this recipe. The small, orange legumes cook much faster than many other varieties of lentils since the seed coat is removed and the lentils in half. Because they soften and become creamy they are often used for soups and stews.
  • Tomatoes – I use canned diced tomatoes in this recipe. Not only are canned tomatoes a huge time saver but are preserved at their peak freshness and because of this there is consistent tomato flavor.
  • Spices – In addition to aromatics like garlic and ginger, the stew is seasoned with a combination of cumin coriander, turmeric and cinnamon.
  • Thai Birds eye Chili – Bird’s eye chilies or Thai chilies are small, pointy chili peppers that pack a punch. They add an intense heat with fruity flavor to dishes rating between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units. They can sometimes be difficult to find so I usually buy a large bag of them at my local Asian market. I store them in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag. It’s actually even easier to cut them when they are frozen.
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How to Make Red Lentil Dal

  1. Cook the lentils. Rinse and drain the lentils. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the lentils and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and set the lentils aside in a large bowl.
  2. Sauté the onion. Return the pot to medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt, then add the onion and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
  3. Stir in the aromatics and spices. Add the garlic, ginger and chilies sautéing until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds. Next, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon, stirring to combine before adding the cooked lentils, the tomatoes with their liquid and 1 cup of water.
  4. Simmer the dal. Simmer until the mixture becomes thick and cohesive, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Serve. Serve hot over rice or with naan. Garnish with yogurt and top with pickled onions and cilantro.
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Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • While it can be served on its own, I love to serve it over roasted vegetables and basmati rice with a side of naan for scooping up the dal.
  • Garnish it simply with cilantro or with yogurt and pickled onions to add contrasting textures and flavors.
  • To make this recipe vegan simply skip the butter and yogurt.
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Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

Print Pin
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the dal:

  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 Thai birdseye chilies, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

For serving:

  • ½ cup plain yogurt
  • ¼ cup pickled red onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, for serving

Instructions:

For the dal:

  • Rinse and drain the lentils. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add the lentils and 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until the lentils are just tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and set the lentils aside in a large bowl.
  • Return the pot to medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the butter and allow to melt, then add the onion and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, ginger and chilies sautéing until fragrant, about an additional 30 seconds. Next, add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cinnamon, stirring to combine before adding the cooked lentils, the tomatoes with their liquid and 1 cup of water.
  • Simmer until the mixture becomes thick and cohesive, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

For serving:

  • Serve hot over rice or with naan. Garnish with yogurt and top with pickled onions and cilantro.

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