Masoor dal is red lentils cooked with spices

Masoor Dal Recipe (Red Lentil Dal)

By Swasthi on June 10, 2023, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Masoor Dal Recipe with stovetop & Instant pot Instructions. Flavorful, tasty and nutritious Indian side dish made with red lentils, spices and herbs. This protein rich Masoor Dal is best served with steamed rice, millets, quinoa or with any flatbreads like Chapati, Roti or Butter Naan. Flavored rice dishes like Cumin Rice, Ghee Rice or even Turmeric Rice also pair wonderfully with this masoor dal.

Masoor dal is red lentils cooked with spices

Here is some quick info if you are new to this lentil:

About Masoor Dal

Masoor Dal is a quick cook protein rich lentil widely known as Red lentils. They are also called as Orange lentils & Pink lentils. These have a high nutrition profile similar to that of meat. Hence it is eaten by many people as a substitute for non-vegetarian or meat.

Masoor Dal is available in 2 varieties. One is the skinned and the other variety is the whole lentil. The skinned variety is known as split red lentils or red Masoor Dal. The other one is known as the sabut masoor or whole red lentils. These are brown in color and have a similar shape as the Puy lentils & Horse gram.

The whole variety also known as Brown lentils are loved by many people. They have an earthy flavor with higher fiber content so it is always good to soak them in enough water for few hours to prevent stomach problems.

If you want to cook with whole masoor dal, you may follow this Green Moong Dal Recipe. The method to make both these recipes is same.

We Indians cook with many kind of lentils like Toor Dal, Chana Dal & Urad Dal. However a lot of Indian households prefer to use split masoor dal since it has the highest amount of protein compared to the other lentils. It is also a quick cook lentil and can be prepared just under 20 to 25 mins.

Most Indian homes use a pressure cooker to cook dal as it saves some time. But these lentils in particular can be prepared in a pot easily as they don’t take much time. I have the details below for the same.

masoor dal red lentils

About This Recipe

There are numerous ways to prepare this dish. In this post I share the simplest way to make a delicious Masoor Dal. You don’t need a long list of ingredients and there is very little preparation involved here. This recipe requires fewer spices too.

A lot of Indian dal recipes are prepared with so many ingredients and spices which actually are not required for this dish. Red lentils have a unique, delicious & sweet flavor which shine through when they are cooked with minimal spices.

If you cook lentils often, you will love my variations too which I have mentioned below.

More Dal recipes
Instant pot dal & rice
Moong dal
Chana dal
Dal fry
Dal makhani

How to Make Masoor Dal (Stepwise Photos)

Cook Lentils

1. Add ½ cup masoor dal to a pot or pressure cooker. Rinse it well a few times. Drain the water completely. Add 2 medium chopped tomatoes, 1 green chilli and pour 1¼ to 1½ cups water. You can leave out the chilies if you have toddlers/young kids for the meal.

Tip: I prefer to deseed my tomatoes always & sometimes peel them too if they are not organic.

adding dal tomatoes to pot to make masoor dal

2. Pressure cook on a medium heat until you hear 1 whistle. To cook in a pot, bring the water to a rapid boil on a medium high heat, turn down the heat and cook on a medium to low heat until the lentils turn soft. As the lentils cook, skim off the froth & discard that arises on top. Add more hot water if required.

pressure cooking masoor dal until soft

3. When the pressure drops, open the lid.

soft cooked red lentils to make masoor dal

4. Mash the cooked dal to suit your liking – smooth or coarse. You can also add 2 to 3 tbsp hot water to bring it to a desired consistency. It will thicken slightly upon cooling. So adjust accordingly.

mashing masoor dal before tempering

Temper Masoor Dal With Spices

5. Heat 1 to 2 tbsp ghee or butter (or 1 oil) on a medium heat. Add one after the other – ¼ teaspoons mustard seeds (optional), ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 2 chopped garlic cloves and 1 to 2 broken dried red chilies. You can also add a bay leaf or a sprig of curry leaves (pat dry).

tempering spices in ghee

6. When the garlic turns slightly golden, turn the heat to low (or turn off if the pan is too hot). Add 1 pinch hing, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste). If you like to flavor it up more, you can add a pinch of garam masala. Chili powder tends to burn quickly so pour this immediately to the dal. You may set aside half of this for garnish.

tempered spic mix to make masoor dal

8. Keep the stove flame on a low to medium heat. Add salt and kasuri methi. Mix well.

adding tempering

9. Simmer for 2 mins and turn off the stove.

mixing masoor dal with tempering

You can garnish half of the tempering, sprinkle some finely chopped coriander leaves & lemon juice. Serve masoor dal with rice or roti, some papads, pickle, veggie salad and curd.

Masoor Dal Recipe made with red lentils and spices


I have shared one of the simplest ways to cook red lentils in this post.

  • However you can also cook this in combination with other lentils. I usually add a handful of moong dal to this which makes the dish slightly creamy and thick.
  • A lot of people feel masoor dal tastes bland but that’s because of the older stock. If so prefer to use some more spices for flavoring. You can also add ingredients like garam masala, whole spices, kasuri methi or amchur powder to suit your liking. But remember not to overuse them.
  • You will loose the original flavor of lentils if you overload the dish with plenty of spices. Moderation is the key here.
  • Most Indian homes cook masoor dal with onions & tomatoes. If you want you may use a small sliced or chopped onion. Saute the onions in 2 teaspoons oil until transparent, later add the rinsed lentils, tomatoes etc.
  • You can also add some spinach and carrots. Check this recipe – Spinach dal.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

Masoor dal recipe made with red lentils

Masoor Dal Recipe (Red Lentil Dal)

Indian style red lentil dish prepared with basic spices and seasoning. It can be served with plain rice or any Indian breads like roti, paratha or naan. Instructions for Instant pot, stove top or regular pressure cooker.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Servings2 to 3

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ½ cup masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 2 tablespoons moong dal (optional)
  • 2 medium (½ to ¾ cup) tomatoes (deseeded & chopped)
  • 1 green chili (optional)
  • 1¼ to 1½ cup water (for 1¾ cups for IP)

To Temper

  • 1 to 2 tablespoon ghee or (1 tbsp oil or 2 tbsps butter)
  • 1 dried red chili broken
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (use up to ¾ for heat, adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric


  • 1 pinch garam masala (or ⅛ tsp) (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) or 2 tbsp coriander leaves
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice for serving


Stovetop Masoor dal

  • Add masoor dal & moong dal (optional) to a pot or pressure cooker. Wash it a few times until the water runs clear.
  • Next add chopped tomatoes, water and green chili.
  • Pressure cook for 1 to 2 whistles on a medium heat. If cooking in a pot, bring the water to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and cook until soft, adding more hot water if needed. Skim off any froth that rises to the top.
  • Once the pressure drops, open the cooker.
  • Mash the dal to suit your liking. You can make it smooth or keep it coarse for a texture. If needed you can pour 2 to 3 tbsp hot water to bring it to a consistency.

Temper/ Tadka

  • Heat ghee (or oil or butter) in a small pan, on a medium heat.
  • Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies and chopped garlic.
  • Saute until the garlic turns slightly golden.
  • Turn off the heat and add hing, chili powder and turmeric. You can also add in garam masala if using.
  • Quickly pour this off to the dal. Time to add salt and kasuri methi if using.
  • Mix and simmer for 2 mins. If using coriander leaves add them now. 
  • Squeeze in some lemon before serving. Masoor dal is ready to serve with roti or rice.

Instant Pot Masoor Dal

  • Press saute button on the Instant pot and pour oil to the inner pot.
  • Add mustard, cumin, broken red chilies and garlic.
  • When they splutter add tomatoes along with salt, chilli powder, hing, garam masala (optional) and turmeric.
  • Saute for 1 min. Next add dal, green chilli and pour water.
  • Stir well and deglaze to release any bits of food stuck. Secure the Instant pot with lid. Set the steam release handle to sealing.
  • Optional :You can cook basmati rice together by placing the rice bowl on a long legged trivet.
  • Press pressure cook button and set the timer for 7 mins.
  • Wait for the pressure to release naturally. When the pin drops, open the IP.
  • Stir well and add more salt & hot water if needed. Cook on saute mode to bring to consistency if needed.
  • Squeeze lemon juice and serve masoor dal with rice.


  1. I usually add 2 tbsps of moong dal to this as it gives a thick texture. If using moong dal as well, just use 1/4 cup more water to cook the dal.
  2. For variations you can also add some carrots, spinach, methi leaves to the dal.
  3. You can set aside half of the tadka (tempering) for garnish.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.


Watch Red Lentil Dal Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Masoor Dal Recipe (Red Lentil Dal)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 269 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Cholesterol 19mg6%
Sodium 95mg4%
Potassium 793mg23%
Carbohydrates 36g12%
Fiber 16g67%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 13g26%
Vitamin A 1240IU25%
Vitamin C 54.8mg66%
Calcium 43mg4%
Iron 4.3mg24%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Masoor Dal Recipe first published in January 2018. Updated and republished in December 2022.

Masoor Dal Recipe (Red Lentil Dal)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
Thank you, this was sooooo delicious!!! Will definitely make it many more times!

Greetings from Egypt 🙂

5 stars
Swasthi, I have tried many of your recipes. They’ve never failed to be outstanding. Thank you!

5 stars
1 serving equals to how much grams after cooked?

After cooking how much will measure dal according to one serving ? Like 1 serving equals to how much grams after cooked .

5 stars
Lovely recipe! I have made not so authentic Indian red lentil recipes all my life and would hate to eat them. This recipe changed my perspective. Delicious, easy and not a lot of spices. My 2 year toddler also ate it. Best dal I have eaten.

5 stars
Thank you for a quick recipe. I keep coming back to it. So simple with very few ingredients.

5 stars
Absolutely perfect!!!. Everything I have made so far has been amazing. My mom sent me homemade masala’s and I was was looking for good recipes and found you. Thank you so much for making tasty and great recipes . I miss my family and making your recipes reminds me like I was eating at home .

5 stars
Uncomplicated & by far the best masoor dal recipe I have tried. Can’t believe it tastes so delicious & is fast to make. My family loves this! Next time I am going to throw in some kale and carrots. Thank you!

5 stars
Hi Swathi
I use your recipes always.
Thank you 😊

5 stars
Amazing. I make the instant pot version at least once a month, doubling the recipe to use 1 cup of lentils (I sub 14 oz can of tomatoes when tomatoes are out of season, reducing water a bit). I’ve tried several recipes on your site and they’re all fantastic, but I keep coming back to this masoor dal. Thank you for the great recipes!

5 stars
I just made this and it’s delicious. I don’t like lentils that much but my teen has become vegetarian and husband has to eat heart-smart, so I was looking for good dal recipes that the whole family will enjoy. This is a keeper! I am usually a lazy cook so often skip things like ghee and proper spices but this time I followed everything and it’s superb and easy. Used instant pot.
Other non-authentic recipes end up being disappointing in flavor and made me a ‘lentil enemy’. This recipe is so good that I impressed myself – love lentils now! Thanks very much – this will save me.

5 stars
Swathi ji I came across your Website today for the first time. gone through your few receipes of Diwali Snacks, Dals etc. I loved the way you precisely mention everything, Attractive photographs helped me to understand quickly and those were tempting too.
Your knowledge about the subject is really deep what i understood from very keenly mentioned tips and tricks of snack receipees. Really wanted to appreciate your efforts. Thanks a lot..

5 stars
This masoor dal is really so simple but very tasty. This has been a longtime staple in my home and turns out so good and delicious. Last night I made with some spinach and carrots. Tempered the spices in butter. Just awesome. Thank you

5 stars
This made a wonderful lunch with saffron basmati and a crispy whole wheat roti crumbled on top. Love how low-effort this one is especially.

5 stars
Just made this recipe tonight along with your other recipe for shahi paneer and both turned out delicious! Very similar to the dishes we order at the restaurant.
I cooked the lentil on the stovetop for around 20 minutes on medium heat.
Thank you Swasthi!

5 stars
This is was delicious and I found the process of cooking it very soothing!

5 stars
Nice recipe! I know how to cook dals well… yet your take on masoor dal is delicious ?.. I used my instant pot!

5 stars
Just made this tonight. I’ve never used a recipe like this yet but its a 10/10 !!!!! I added more water to my liking because I like it more watery/soupy than thick. But thick or watery it’s still delicious ! Completely delicious flavour. I omitted the garam masala.

5 stars
Greetings of the day!
I never even made a tea using a instant tea bag in my life! I was always busy and cooking was of no interest to me.But the pandemic changed everything in my life.We are living in Dubai.I am a south indian but lived all my life in kolkata and married to a Punjabi.My wife started cooking very late in life since we had servants for everything in kolkata.After few days at home during the lockdown in Dubai i was bored with my wife’s dishes, even though she manages the kitchen very well along with her own work.One fine morning i was searching the internet for good indian recipes and i came across your site…….i started cooking for the family learning from your site.Then i started taking interest in cooking and now it has become a hobby.I have tried with many online authors but i love your recipes since it is easy to follow and you do not use any unavailable raw materials.I have tried most of your recipes.We have stopped ordering food from outside for many months now.Everyone demands me to cook now……
I told you my story in detail just to let you know that how you have changed my life and of many others.
A big THANK YOU for your great help.
With regards

5 stars
I’ve tried several other similar recipes and I always come back to this one as it is the most flavoursome. You’ve really been my guide in the Indian cooking journey. Thank you.

5 stars
A simple preparation but so full of flavors. Loved it.