Masoor Dal (Red Lentils Indian style)

Masoor Dal (Red Lentils Indian style)

My first recollection of dal is from when I was 8 years old, living in India. It certainly wasn’t the first time I had it. I understand from my mom that this was something I started eating at a very young age, but my first real memory was in India. Dal has this certain magic to it for me. It reminds me of the times when my Noni (Grandmother) used to take some dal, and mix it up with rice, cream, and ghee in a big bowl…she would make these little balls out of it, and would feed us by hand. It was extraordinary to me, this “American” kid, to be fed by the hand of my Noni. It’s times like those that you really get that food is love.

These days I love dunking a whole wheat tortilla or chapati (Indian bread) into it, or pouring it over rice. Not as special or exciting as having your Noni feed you, but I still get caught up in the creamy texture and wonderful buttery notes. Dal is a great way to meet your protein needs and is hearty and satisfying. This is an easy recipe, so go for it! Enjoy!

Masoor Dal
(Red lentils seasoned with onions and mustard seeds)


5 cups of water
1 cup masoor dal – rinsed and drained in colander (remove any stones)
½ cup onion finely chopped
½ cup tomato diced (fresh or canned diced)
3 cloves of garlic, chopped into fine pieces or use a garlic press
1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated with a microplane
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt (if you use regular table salt or prefer low sodium reduce to ½ teaspoon)
½ Serrano green chili (optional)

Tadka (Heated ghee or oil and spices)

3 Tablespoons Butter, ghee, or oil
5 curry leaves
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ cup onion finely chopped
½ cup tomato diced (fresh or canned diced)


1. Rinse dal in colander until water runs clear about 1 minute or so. Discard any stones.
2. Bring five cups of water to a boil in a saucepan.
3. Add the rinsed dal, onions, tomato, garlic, ginger, turmeric, salt, green chili (optional).
4. Cook uncovered over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Remove from heat.

Tadka (Heated ghee or oil and spices) Instructions:

1. In a skillet heat ghee, add curry leaves and mustard seeds.
2. When the mustard seeds start to sputter and pop (about 30 seconds) add onions and fry until the onions are a reddish brown, stirring frequently so they don’t burn.
3. Add tomatoes, and cook until liquid from tomatoes is absorbed and tomatoes are tender and begin to separate from the oil. Remove from heat.
4. Add onion mixture to cooked dal, stir to combine and serve.

**You can add more hot water (boiled) if you prefer a thinner consistency, or when reheating leftovers.

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