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.
Here is some quick info if you are new to this lentil:
What is 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 is also enjoyed 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.
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.
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.
How to Make Masoor Dal (Stepwise Photos)
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.
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.
3. When the pressure drops, open the lid.
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.
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).
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.
8. Keep the stove flame on a low to medium heat. Add salt and kasuri methi. Mix well.
9. Simmer for 2 mins and turn off the stove.
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.
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.
Masoor Dal Recipe | Red Lentils Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup masoor dal (red lentils)
- 2 tablespoons moong dal (optional)
- 2 medium tomatoes deseeded & chopped (½ cup)
- 1 green chili (optional)
- 1¼ to 1½ cup water (for 1¾ cups for IP)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- For variations you can also add some carrots, spinach, methi leaves to the dal.
- 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.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Masoor dal recipe first published in January 2018. Updated and republished in February 2022.
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.
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