Masoor dal known as red lentils is one of the lentil or dal varieties that is commonly used in Indian cuisine. It is used by a larger population since it has the highest amount of protein compared to the other lentils. Masoor dal is often confused with kesari dal which is toxic and is bad for health. Sometimes masoor dal is adulterated with kesari dal hence care must be taken while selecting it.
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 that has a high nutrition profile similar to that of meat. Hence it is eaten by many as a substitute to non-veg or meat. It is known as red lentils in English.
What is red masoor dal?
Masoor dal comes in 2 varieties. One is the skinned and the other variety is the whole lentil. The skinned variety is known as red lentils or red masoor dal. The other one is known as the sabut (whole) dal.
Masoor dal is 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 it can be prepared in a pot as it doesn’t take much time. Any dal recipe can be prepared in various ways.
Whole masoor dal known as sabut masoor dal is also enjoyed by many people. The whole lentils have higher fiber so it is always good to soak them in enough water for few hours to prevent stomach problems.
I usually soak them for 3 to 4 hours, rinse them and pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles or until they cook up soft.
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.
Compared to other lentils, masoor dal tastes bland so I do prefer to use some spices for flavoring. You can also add ingredients like garam masala, whole spices, kasuri methi or amchur powder to suit your liking.
This can be served with plain roti or rice. Some pickle & papads will go well in the meal.
Most Indian homes cook masoor dal using onions & tomatoes. However you can make your own variations by adding some spinach or palak & carrots.
I add them to the pot along with dal as they not only perk up the nutrition but also enhance the taste & texture of the dal. This way I can skip making another veggie dish for the meal.
Easy masoor dal recipe
Masoor dal recipe (Red lentil recipe)
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup masoor dal or red lentils
- 2 tbsp moong dal (optional)
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped & deseeded
- 1 green chili (optional)
- 1 ¼ cup water (plus ¼ cup if using moong dal)
- 1 tbsp ghee or oil or butter
- 1 red chili broken
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- ¼ tsp mustard (optional)
- ½ tsp cumin or jeera
- 1 pinch asafoetida or hing
- salt as needed
- ¼ to ½ tsp red chili powder
- 1/8 tsp turmeric (about 1 large pinch)
- 1 pinch garam masala (or 1/8 tsp)
- ¼ tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) or 2 tbsp coriander leaves
- lemon juice as needed
How to make the recipe
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, cook on a medium heat until soft adding more water if needed.
- Once the pressure goes down, open the cooker.
- Mash the dal to suit your liking. You can make it smooth or keep it grainy. If needed you can pour 2 to 3 tbsp water to bring it to a consistency.
- Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a small pan.
- Add mustard, cumin, red chilies and 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 mode and add oil when it displays hot.
- 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 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.
- Stir well and add more salt if needed. Cook on saute mode to bring to consistency if needed.
- Serve masoor dal with rice & lemon wedges.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
If you are a beginner or new to Indian cooking, I highly suggest you to check the supporting step by step photos for best results. Step by step photos with description available below after the recipe card.
How to make
1. Add dal to a pot or pressure cooker. Wash it well a few times. Add chopped tomatoes, green chilli and pour water. You can skip chilies if you have young kids at home.
2. Pressure cook on a medium heat for 1 whistle. If cooking in a pot, cook until the dal turns soft. You may need more water to cook if making in pot.
3. When the pressure goes down, open the lid.
4. Mash the cooked dal to suit your liking – smooth or coarse. You can also add 2 to 3 tbsp water to bring it to a desired consistency.
5. Heat 1 tbsp ghee. Add one after the other – mustard (optional), jeera, garlic and red chilies. You can also add a bay leaf or some curry leaves.
6. When the garlic turns slightly golden, add hing, turmeric and chili powder. If you desire you can add a pinch of garam masala.
7. Chili powder tends to burn quickly so immediately pour this to the dal.
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 also sprinkle some finely chopped coriander leaves & lemon juice.
Serve masoor dal with rice or roti, some papads, pickle, veggie salad and curd.