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Red lentil dal served in a white bowl with steamed basmati rice and garnished with parsley

Masoor Dal

Homely dal is one of my favourite lunch dishes. Dal means split, as in split red lentils, dried peas or mung beans, but the word is used for the soupy, porridge cooked dish that’s made with them and forms a key part of Indian meals. Don’t be put off by its dull appearance. It’s incredibly good, soothing, warming and gently flavoured with spices.

Masoor dal is red lentil dal. Dal can be either unhulled (skin on) or hulled (skin off). In this case it is a lentil with a brown skin which has been hulled and split. You lose some nutritional value when the legume is hulled and split because the skin contains nutrients and dietary fibre. Most people do not soak red lentils but I do for 30-60 minutes which can increase the creaminess of the dal and reduce the amount of liquid required. When I make dal I cook a double batch and freeze the leftovers for mid-week dinners or lunch to take to work and reheated in the microwave. I always eat dal with steamed basmati rice, but roti and pappadams go well too. Ideally, buy pappadams that can be cooked in the microwave rather than deep fried.

  • Serves 4
  • Preparation time:  30 mins preparation and 1 hour cooking

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (200g or 7 oz) split and hulled red lentils
  • 2 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 3cm (one inch) fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 10g (1/3 oz) ghee or butter or 2 tablespoons neutral flavoured oil like canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon of brown mustard seeds
  • 1 medium-large brown onion, chopped
  • ½ or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your preference for spicy hot)
  • 2 ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Coriander or parsley leaves to garnish

Method

  • Soak the dal in 2 cups of water for up to 30-60 minutes
  • Drain, rinse and drain 3 times
  • In a heavy medium-large saucepan, melt ghee/oil and when hot add cumin seeds and brown mustard seeds and fry for 1 minute careful not to burn the seeds.
  • When the mustard seeds start to pop add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir fry for about 3 minutes.
  • Then add cayenne, coriander and turmeric stir fry for about a minute.
  • Add rinsed and drained dal to the saucepan. Stir to coat the dal.
  • After another minute, add 3 cups of water and salt.
  • Bring mixture to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 60 minutes.
  • Drizzle fresh lemon juice over each serve and garnish with parsley or coriander.
  • Serve with steamed basmati, roti and/or pappadams.
Red lentil dal served in a white bowl with steamed basmati rice and garnished with parsley
Masoor Dal
  • Delish factor:  3.5 out of 4 stars
  • Suitable to freeze

2 thoughts to “Masoor Dal”

  1. Delicious dal that the entire family enjoyed. Easy to make and almost looks after itself whilst bubbling away. Will definitely make it again.

    1. Hi Rachel, yes it is a pretty easy recipe to make and so gosh darn delicious! Have you tried the sweet potato dal? That’s pretty amazing too.

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