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Masoor Dal: A Hearty Indian Staple

Approximately 30 minutes. Cook
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Masoor Dal: A Hearty Indian Staple

Introduction: Masoor Dal, a classic Indian dish made from red lentils, has been a beloved part of Indian cuisine for centuries. This hearty and nutritious dish is not only a favorite among vegetarians and vegans but is also cherished by meat lovers worldwide for its rich flavors and creamy texture. In this article, we will dive into the history of Masoor Dal, explore the ingredients, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to prepare this delectable dish. Get ready to embark on a culinary journey through the vibrant flavors of India.

Historical Context: Lentils, including red lentils, have been a dietary staple in India for over 4,000 years. Archaeological evidence suggests that lentils were consumed in the Indus Valley Civilization as far back as 3300 BCE. Over time, various regional variations of lentil dishes emerged, with Masoor Dal becoming one of the most cherished lentil preparations.


1. Wash and Rinse:

  • Begin by thoroughly rinsing the red lentils under cold water until the water runs clear. This removes excess starch and ensures a smooth texture in your Masoor Dal.

2. Sauté Aromatics:

  • Heat the vegetable oil or ghee in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle for a few seconds until they release their aroma.
  • Add finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.

3. Add Garlic and Ginger:

  • Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger. Sauté for another minute or until the raw aroma disappears.

4. Spice it Up:

  • Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, and red chili powder. Stir well to combine the spices with the aromatics. Allow them to cook for a minute to release their flavors.

5. Incorporate Tomatoes:

  • Add the chopped tomatoes and green chili. Cook until the tomatoes become soft and the oil starts to separate from the mixture. This might take about 5-7 minutes.

6. Cook the Lentils:

  • Add the rinsed red lentils to the tomato mixture. Stir to combine everything evenly.
  • Pour in 2 cups of water and add salt to taste.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender and fully cooked. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom.

7. Tempering:

  • In a small skillet, heat a teaspoon of vegetable oil or ghee.
  • Add a pinch of cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
  • Pour this tempering over the cooked lentils for added flavor.

8. Garnish and Serve:

  • Remove the Masoor Dal from heat and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice or naan bread.
  • Offer lemon wedges on the side for a tangy twist. Squeezing a little lemon juice over your Masoor Dal can elevate its flavors.

Enjoy your homemade Masoor Dal!

This delightful Indian dish is not only a comforting meal but also a nutritional powerhouse. Rich in protein, fiber, and various essential nutrients, it’s a great option for those looking to incorporate more plant-based meals into their diet. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner, preparing Masoor Dal at home is a satisfying culinary experience that connects you to the rich tapestry of Indian cuisine. So, gather your ingredients and dive into the world of flavors that Masoor Dal has to offer.


prep time
About 40 minutes.
cooking time
Approximately 30 minutes.
4 servings
total time
Around 40 minutes.


  • Medium-sized saucepan

  • Wooden spoon

  • Cutting board and knife

  • Grater

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Small skillet

  • Serving bowls


  • 1 cup of red lentils (Masoor Dal)

  • 2 cups of water

  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated

  • 2 tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 green chili, slit (adjust to your spice preference)

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to your spice preference)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)

  • Salt to taste

  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

  • Lemon wedges for garnish


Wash and rinse lentils.
Sauté aromatics and spices.
Cook lentils with tomatoes.
Temper and garnish, then serve.
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