Red lentil curry (Masoor dal)

Extremely tasty and proper red lentil curry (masoor dal) that can be cooked speedy and easily with components you have got reachable. Pair with white rice for a healthful and comforting, yet light weeknight dinner.


  • 1 cup masoor dal or red lentils
  • 3 1/4 cups water, or 2 cups for pressure cooking
  • 1/4 cup canola, grape seed or other neutral oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 inch piece ginger, crushed
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 green chili, chopped or sliced (chopped for more heat, sliced for less)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red chili powder or cayenne, or more to taste
  • 1 1/8 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi or dry fenugreek leaves, optional
  • 1 tbsp ghee, not suitable for vegans
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala, optional


To Wash:

  • Place lentils in a medium-sized bowl and fill with water. Use your hand to swirl the dal around until the water becomes murky. Tip the bowl to take out the excess water and repeat until the water runs clear. Remove any debris and strain the excess water.

Stovetop Method:

  • In a large pot, add dal and 3 1/4 cups of water. Bring this to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover, leaving the lid slightly open. Cook the dal for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Use a slotted spoon to remove the white scum that rises to the top of the pan.

Pressure Cooker Method:

  • Pressure cooks the masoor dal with 2 cups water for 2-3 minutes or until well cooked and slightly mushy.

Instant Pot Method:

  • Add lentils along with 1 1/2 cups of water and cook on low pressure for 7 minutes. Manually release the pressure.

For the tadka (or tempering):

  • In another large pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and sauté for about 15 seconds. Add the onions and sauté until slightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to sauté until the raw smell disappears (about 30 seconds). Add the tomatoes, green chili, and dry spice powders (red chili, turmeric, cumin, coriander) except the garam masala. Cook until soft and you see the oil leaving the sides, about 3 minutes.
  • Stir the cooked dal into the tadka and add 2 cups of water. Stir well and raise the heat to bring to a simmer.
  • Lower the heat and add the salt. Simmer this dal, stirring occasionally, for at least 5 minutes or until you achieve the desired consistency.
  • Add in the ghee. Rub the fenugreek leaves, if using, between your hands to crush them a little and add this to the dal.
  • Turn off the heat. Add lemon juice, chopped cilantro, and garam masala, if using. Give it a stir.
  • Serve dal hot with rice, roti, naan or anything else your heart desires. I like to serve it with some sliced onions, carrots or cucumber on the side.

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