Masoor Dal Recipe | Indian Red Lentils Recipe

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Masoor Dal is a creamy spiced lentil dish that’s delicious to enjoy over rice. This popular Indian recipe features lovely red lentils cooked with onions, tomatoes, and lots of rich and savory spices. Follow my simple steps to make a healthy, tasty Masoor Dal recipe for a satisfying and healthy meal.

masoor dal in a bowl with spoon.

About Masoor Dal

Masoor Dal is Hindi for ‘orange lentils’, ‘red lentils’ or ‘pink lentils’. Basically these are the same lentils with different names. But note that these are not the same as Puy lentils, which are a green French lentil.

masoor dal or red lentils in a white bowl.

The Masoor Dal lentils can be split or whole, and both types are used in Indian cuisine. The split and husked red lentils are called Dhuli Masoor Dal in Hindi.

Split and husked lentils have an orange-pink color. However, the whole Masoor Dal with the husks have a dark brown color and thus called Brown Lentils.

While wonderfully unique, both of these lentils are equally delicious and easy to make with whatever pantry staples you have. Keep reading for step-by-step photos and instructions for making this tasty Indian Red Lentils.

If interested, you can have a look at a comforting and healthy North Indian style Brown Lentils (Whole Masoor Dal) recipe that I have also posted.

This Masoor Dal recipe is a creamy spiced preparation made with the husked and split red lentils (also known as orange lentils or pink lentils).

The recipe is very easy to make and is ready in about 30 minutes. It’s perfect for a hearty and healthy weeknight dinner or to enjoy during a relaxing weekend.

I have cooked these red lentils in a pressure cooker to save time. You can even cook them in a pan on the stovetop or in an Instant Pot.

The Red Lentils recipe is easily adjustable and scaleable. You could any time tone down on the usage of various spices and seasonings.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Masoor Dal

Preparation

1. To start, rinse ½ cup of masoor dal (split and husked red lentils) under cool running water for a minute or so. Drain the water.

Then add the rinsed red lentils to a 3-litre stovetop pressure cooker along with 1 ½ to 1 ¾ cups of water.

You can opt to cook the lentils in the Instant Pot, adding water as needed. These lentils also cook easily in a pot or pan on the stovetop. Add about 1.5 to 2 cups water or more when cooking in a pan.

masoor dal being rinsed with water.

2. Pressure cook the red lentils on a medium to medium-high heat for 5 to 6 whistles, or until they become soft and mushy.

Let the pressure drop naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid. Check the cooked red lentils.

The lentils have to be tender and softened completely. Mash lightly with a wooden spoon or a whisk lightly with a wired whisk. Set aside.

cooked masoor dal being mashed with wooden spoon.

Make Onion Tomato Masala

3. In another large skillet or pot, heat 2 tablespoons of your preferred cooking oil on medium heat.

Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and fry until they crackle and change color.

cumin seeds crackling in oil in a pan.

4. Next add ⅓ cup chopped onions. Stir and sauté the onions on low to medium-low heat.

onions being sautéed.

5. Continue to sauté and stir for some minutes until they are light golden. Do not burn or you’ll wind up with an unpleasant bitter taste.

sautéed onions in pan.

6. Then add 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and 2 or 3 peeled and crushed garlic cloves (small to medium-sized).

Stir and sauté them for 10 to 15 seconds, or until the raw aroma of both ginger and garlic goes away.

onion, garlic and ginger mixture in pan.

7. Add 1 green chili (chopped or slit) and 1 or 2 whole dry red chilies (broken and seeds removed), optional. Stir and mix well.

chopped green chillies and red chillies in pan with the onions.

8. Next add the following ground spices:

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 1 generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)

Skip adding asafoetida if you do not have it.

ground spices in the pan.

9. Stir and mix well. Next add ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes.

chopped tomatoes in pan.

10. Stir the tomatoes and mix them well with the onions and spices. Sauté the tomatoes on medium-low heat until the oil separates and the tomatoes become soft.

tomatoes softened.

Make Masoor Dal

11. Now add the cooked and lightly mashed lentils to the skillet.

lightly mashed red lentils on top of onion-tomato masala in pan.

12. Mix thoroughly.

masoor dal mixed with onion-tomato masala.

13. Pour in 1 to 1 ½ cups water, depending on how firm, thick or thin you like your masoor dal.

Start with just 1 cup and stir, and then add more water bit by bit as needed. Taste and season with salt.

water being added to masoor dal in pan.

14. Simmer the dal for 6 to 7 minutes more on a low or medium heat. The dal will get thicker as it cooks, so simmer just until you get the desired consistency.

masoor dal or red lentils simmering in pan.

15. I prefer my dal as shown, with a medium consistency that isn’t too thick or thin.

consistency of red lentils being shown with a wooden spoon.

16. I also like to add 1 teaspoon of crushed dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) for a slightly nutty and earthy bite. Feel free to leave out if you prefer.

crushed dry fenugreek leaves added to masoor dal.

17. Simmer for 1 more minute to combine the flavor of the leaves.

simmering red lentils in pan.

18. Once the dal has reached desired consistency, stir in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves. Give another stir and turn off the heat.

coriander leaves on top of dal.

19. You can also garnish with coriander leaves if you prefer while serving the dal.

red lentils in a bowl with spoon.

FAQs for Masoor ki Dal

What goes well with Masoor dal?

Serve Masoor dal with some steamed basmati rice, pickle and papad and you have a comforting Indian meal.

Even a side of Onion Raita or Cucumber Raita or a Vegetable Salad or Kachumber Salad can be accompanied with the masoor dal.

It’s also perfect for enjoying with Indian flat breads like Chapati for scooping.

How long do leftovers keep well?

The consistency and the flavor of Red lentils change over a period of time. I would suggest to eat them as soon as you prepare the dish. Try to consume the lentils on the same day.

Can I freeze Masoor dal?

I would not recommend to freeze masoor dal. Lentils are best eaten when they freshly cooked. Freezing cooked lentils or storing them in the refrigerator for a few days is not considered a healthy practice according to Ayurveda.

Can I make larger batches or halve this recipe?

Yes. As-is this recipe is enough for 4 servings, but can be halved for 2 or doubled to make a large batch.

More Lentil Recipes To Try!

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cooked masoor dal or red lentils in a bowl with spoon.

Masoor Dal Recipe | Indian Red Lentils Recipe

Masoor Dal is a spiced lentil dish that's delicious to enjoy over rice. This Red Lentils recipe is made with husked and split pink lentils or red lentils cooked with onions, tomatoes and lots of rich and savory spices.
4.92 from 61 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Cuisine North Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Vegan
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For stovetop pressure cooking

  • ½ cup masoor dal or red lentils (husked and split)
  • 1.5 to 1.75 cups water for pressure cooking dal

For making masoor dal

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • cup chopped onions or 1 medium-sized
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves (small to medium-sized), crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 inch ginger finely chopped or 1 teaspoon
  • 1 to 2 green chillies chopped or slit or ½ to 1 teaspoon
  • 1 to 2 dry red chilies – broken and seeds removed, optional
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes or 1 medium-sized
  • ¼ or ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1 generous pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • ¼ or ½ teaspoon Garam Masala (homemade garam masala powder can be just ¼ teaspoon)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1 to 1.5 cups water or add as required
  • salt as required
  • 1 teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) – crushed, optional
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
  • ½ or 1 teaspoon lemon juice or as required
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves for garnish, optional

Instructions
 

Cooking Lentils

  • Pick and rinse the red lentils (masoor dal) a few times in water.
  • Drain the water and add the lentils to a 3-litre stovetop pressure cooker. Also add 1.5 to 1.75 cups water to the lentils in the cooker.
  • Pressure cook for 5 to 6 whistles on medium heat until the lentils become soft and mushy.
  • Let the pressure drop naturally in the cooker, and then only open the lid.
  • When the lentils are softened and cooked well, mash lightly with a wooden spoon or whisk lightly with a wired whisk.
  • Keep the cooked red lentils aside. If lentils are undercooked, then add some more water and pressure cook for a few minutes more. 

Making onion-tomato masala

  • In another pan or pot, heat oil. Keep the heat to a low. Add cumin seeds and fry the cumin seeds till they crackle. 
  • Then add onions and sauté stirring often till they are light golden on low to medium-low heat.
  • Add chopped ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for 10 to 15 seconds or till the raw aroma of ginger and garlic goes away. 
  • Add green chilies and red chilies. Stir to mix.
  • Add all the ground spices – turmeric powder, red chilli powder or cayenne pepper, garam masala powder one by one including asafoetida (hing) and stir to mix on a low heat.
  • Add the finely chopped tomatoes and sauté on medium-low heat till the oil separates and the tomatoes become mushy and soft.

Making Masoor Dal

  • Add the cooked and lightly mashed red lentils. Pour 1 to 1.5 cups water depending on the consistency you prefer. So you can adjust the quantity of water as required and add bit by bit as you go on mixing.
  • Add salt as required and stir again. Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes more on a low to medium heat till you get the desired consistency in the dal.
  • Masoor dal is neither thick nor thin and has a medium consistency.
  • Add crushed dry fenugreek leaves and simmer for 1 minute.
  • Lastly add lemon juice and 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and stir to mix. Switch off the heat.
  • You can also garnish the Masoor Dal with coriander leaves while serving. Serve the Red Lentils hot with steamed basmati rice or roti or chapati.

Notes

  • The red lentils can also be cooked in a pot or pan. Just soak the dal for 30 to 40 minutes, so that they cook faster if cooking in a pot. Adjust the quantity of water as required.
  • Add less or more of the spices and seasonings in masoor dal according to your taste preferences.
  • If you have the Instant Pot, then cook the red lentils in it adding water as needed. 

Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)

Nutrition Facts
Masoor Dal Recipe | Indian Red Lentils Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 162 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Sodium 342mg15%
Potassium 309mg9%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 8g33%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 228IU5%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.2mg13%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.1mg6%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 0.2mg10%
Vitamin C 7mg8%
Vitamin E 3mg20%
Vitamin K 4µg4%
Calcium 32mg3%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 114µg29%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 36mg9%
Phosphorus 116mg12%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Masoor Dal Recipe from the archives first published in July 2013 has been republished and updated on November 2022.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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87 Comments

  1. This is the second recipe of yours I’ve tried, both have been amazing! Thank you for sharing.5 stars

    1. Nice to know and thanks a lot for sharing this feedback. Thanks for the rating too.

  2. Already shared with my friends this easy and delicious recipe !! It’s always my go to dal recipe when i want some comforting nutritious food ! love and thanks a lot for the easy way you explain the recipe, in this way anybody can follow it !5 stars

  3. Hi, Can you share our whole masoor dal recipe? it is much loved in my family and i cannot find it

    1. Its already shared. Kindly check the home page. Under the heading of Latest Recipes, you will find the recipe. I will update the link in this recipe post too.

  4. Hi, can you kindly upload the whole masoor dal recipe. I have been following your recipe and would appreciate if you could share it. Thanks

  5. Hi Dassana,
    I cannot find the whole masoor dal recipe the Punjabi style one has it been removed from the website.

    Thanks

    1. Hi Jeena, I am adding newer images on that one and it in the drafts currently. Will upload it in some days.

  6. Thank you so much for this recipe, my 12 year old daughter loves it so much that she wants me to cook it very often; my daughter took it to school for her school lunch and her school friends love this masoor dal recipe. It is a winner ❤️❤️❤️5 stars

    1. Most welcome and glad to know that your daughter loves this dal. Thanks for the lovely feedback and the rating as well.

  7. I can’t thank you enough for all your delicious recipes which came in very handy during the lockdown. They were simple to cook and so easy to follow. They tasted so good with both phulkas as well as rice. I must add my family really enjoyed my cooking all thanks to your wonderful recipes.

    Definitely a five star rating!!!

    1. Great to know. Thank you for sharing the wonderful feedback and I am glad to read them. Happy Cooking.

  8. Tried this recipe and it was delicious. Have also tried a couple other recipes on your blog – thanks so much for the pictures and step by step instructions.

    The page doesn’t let me give the star rating – but it’s five stars for sure!

    1. Thanks a lot Tripti for this lovely feedback on masoor dal and other recipes from the blog. I am glad that the photos and step by step instructions are helpful. Sometimes the star rating feature behaves cranky. Thanks again.

  9. The recipes look great! I love dal and make it regularly, though the finishing oil (tadka?) at the end always gives me trouble. How do you make sure the spices don’t burn but still ‘bloom’? How high should the heat be? And when you saute the onion – again how do you get the onion browned without the spices burning in the process?

    1. Thanks Rebecca. Firstly for the tadka always use a good small pan. By good I mean with a heavy base or a heavy pan. Keep the flame to a low or medium-low. Let the oil get heated up. The oil just need to be hot and not smoking or very hot. Add the spices and let them crackle or pop in the hot oil.

      For sautéing onions too, I sauté them at a low or medium-low heat. Stirring frequently while sautéing also makes sure that the onions get cooked uniformly. Low heat cooking makes sure that the spices do not get burnt. I hope this helps.

  10. wonderfully balanced. delicious as always. thank you for all of the wonderful recipes.5 stars

    1. thank you for this lovely review and for the rating too. most welcome and happy cooking.

  11. Hi thank you for the lovely recipe. I tried it today. The colour, smell are beautiful. The taste is outstanding. I would definitely use this recipe again. Much love and God bless.5 stars

    1. thank you safiyya for your kind wishes. thanks for the feedback and rating too. wish you all the best.

  12. I am a kenyan and have tried the receipe. Simple n the results are excellent. Next thing is how to teach my wife prepare it for us all n family. Goes well with steamed rice.
    Thank you for the recipe n b blessed.5 stars

  13. Tried this recipe today.
    I don’t have enough words to thank you for these simple and tasty recipes which can be used in our daily cooking.It tasted so good with phulkas as well as basmati rice.5 stars

    1. thank you winnie. everyday homecooked food is best and healthy too. yes masoor dal taste excellent with basmati rice and phulkas. thanks again.

  14. Wow!! Thank you for this recipe. My husband and I love Indian food and we are both vegetarians. I am new to Indian cooking but this was easy to make following your instructions. Awesome recipe and I know I will be making again.5 stars

    1. Welcome Jane. Glad to know this. Thanks for sharing your positive feedback on masoor dal. If any doubt, then feel free to ask any query on recipes posted.

  15. Brown color of masoor dal ia because we use chilke wala dal…its not bcoz of adding garam masala..
    If you use without chilke wala dal..it will give you yellow color n love all ur recepies..my fav website4 stars

    1. thanks deepika. when the reader had asked the query, i thought she had used husked dal (bina chilke wala dal) and i could not figure out why the brown color. agree with what you say. thanks for the inputs.

  16. I need to adjust the quantities of ingredients because I am pitta to the max. How can I do that? I used to copy-and-paste so I could remember what I changed the ingredients to but you’ve disabled that feature.

    What is your suggestion?

    1. Don’t worry! I figured it out! I ‘Saved’ the recipe and there I can make the adjustments I need to make.

      I love-love-love your recipes. I have learned so much about Indian Food (he’s now my pretend boyfriend) and vegetarian eating in general.

      Hope your week is good!

    2. parin i disabled the feature as many of my recipes are being copied. so to avoid content theft, i have to do this.

  17. You recipes are so good that when I first time ever cooked the daal, even my very fussy wife loved it, despite being partially jealous!!

  18. Hi amit dassana its a gud recipe shared.but i feel still there is scope 4 perfection.i think amit dalchini spoilz fragrance of other flvrs n spices.wht say?

  19. thanks a lot Dassana…………your website is brilliant…………easy to understand recipes….well illustrated esp with photos……….
    May God Bless you both always with abundance knowledge….
    thanks and keep up this excellent cooking website.5 stars

  20. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but it still came out really nice. My parents loved it too. This is the first time my dhal was successful 🙂5 stars

  21. Really delicious dal, everyone loved it!! Your recipes have always turned out great except tadka dal somehow didn’t turn out the way I hoped it would taste was very different:(

    1. thanks suparna for sharing positive feedback on recipes. about tadka dal, if you had shared what went wrong then probably i would have been able to help.

  22. Made this for dinner last night and everyone loved it. I did adjust the spice levels to suit my family but that was the only difference.Thanks!5 stars

  23. I tried the masoor dhal recipe yesterday Dassana & it turned out perfect, it had a lovely colour. Have been busy for the last 2 weeks & haven’t got a chance to make anything from ur blog. But whenever I do get a chance, I try recipes only from here 🙂5 stars

    1. thanks pavi for this positive feedback on masoor dhal. glad to know that you like the blog so much. keep visiting.

  24. Cooked something first time in my life and I did really well. Thanks to you guys… I rocked and you rock too 😉5 stars

  25. Another delicious recipe! This was wonderful. I wish I had doubled it, everyone wanted more. However – My finished dal was much darker and more brown than yours – it was definitely not the pretty mustard yellow color in your pictures. Trying to figure out why… What temperature should I be frying the cumin seeds / onions? Are the tomatoes supposed to melt into a sauce, or just get really soft? Should I be cooking the tempering in a sauce pan or a skillet?5 stars

    1. thanks kim. dal should have a nice yellow color. should not be brown or darker. frying can be at a medium temperature. the tomatoes do soften while sauteing and yes they melt too in the dal. either will work. if you plan to add the cooked dal to the tempering, then cook in a sauce pan. if you plan to add the the tempering to the dal, then cook in a skillet.

  26. I tried this recipe first time today, it turned out very well!

    Thanks for the wonderful recipe, I will repeat this recipe once again.

  27. Dassana, I’m just back from an Indian restaurant where I had masoor dahl for the first time and I loved it. I want to try your recipe I need to know what asafoetida (hing) is. Do I find that in Indian food stores? And does it go under another name?

    I also would like to know how long it keeps (refrigerated) once made. Can we freeze it?

    Thank you so much!

    1. helene, asafoetida or hing is a dried resin got from the roots of ferula plant. you should be able to get asafoetida in indian stores easily. its just called as hing in hindi. there are twp types. one is in the form of a powder and the other is in a form of small rock like pieces . the powdered one is light and less pungent. the small pieces are strong, so just advisable to add a pinch in the food.

  28. I’m an ardent fan of your dishes, but this dal rocks! Made it for a dinner party and it was licked clean! Awesome! Simple but lovely taste!

  29. hi dassana
    i am an amateur in the cooking field,i like your recipe.
    i wish to take cooking advice from you in future .
    i have a problem with boiling the rice,whenever i boil the rice it becomes very wet and meshed,would you please give me some tips about how to boil the rice perfectly.

    REGARDS

    1. firstly, soak the rice for just 30 mins. then drain it completely. now you can heat water till it boils and then add rice or mix water (at room temperature) and rice together and keep the pan on the stove. cover and cook the rice, till the water is absorbed. for 1 cup of rice which has been soaked, you can add upto 1.5 to 2 cups of water. this depends on the quality of rice. some rice grains get cooked in 1.5 cups and for some, you may need to add sometimes even 2.5 cups of water. if pressure cooking, then for 1 cup of rice, add 1.5 cups and pressure cook for 2 to 3 whistles on high flame. a tip would be add about 1/2 tsp of oil or ghee or butter to the water+rice mixture. this prevents the rice grains from being sticky. add salt too while cooking the rice.

  30. I just made this and it turned out really well. Lunch tomorrow for my boyfriend and myself 🙂5 stars

  31. Bummer, whenever we try making an Indian lentil dish, it smells like it has flavoured but it’s bland. Even from our friends grandmas recipie. Which we followed to a tee. Hmm. Can anyone help. Just made this one, and didn’t have a few ingredients. Do the chilies make this spicy? And where do I buy them.
    Can the other not common spices be found at bulk barn?
    Tnx a bunch. Would like to attempt this again with all the ingredients
    Sue

    1. yup chilies do make them spicy. but it depends on how many you add. as i mentioned before, in the absence of whole chilies, you can use the cayenne pepper. just increase the quantity depending upon the heat to 1/2 tsp or 1 tsp… 1 tsp would really make it more spicy and hot. i am not sure what is bulk barn. most of the indian spices and herbs you will get at an asian or indian store. you can also buy them online.

  32. Trying to make this for supper tonight as both hubby and daughter love lentil dishes . Can red chili powder be substituted for cayenne or reg chili powder that is used for chili? Also, don’t have either green or red chilies . Will it still taste good? I only have garam, for. Corriander, cumin seeds and turmeric
    Tnx. Sue

    1. late in replying, but next time you can add add cayenne pepper as sub for red chilli powder. if you don’t have green chilies or red chilies, just use cayenne pepper. green chilies as well as red chilies give a bit of smoky flavor and heat to the dal. even with garam masala, turmeric, cumin seeds and coriander powder the dal tastes good.

  33. Dear dassana I am looking for vegetarian recipes using (summer) seasonal vegetables. Can you help me?

    1. after rinsing soak the lentils in water for an hour. drain and then add the soaked lentils to a pot. add about 3.5 to 4 cups water to the lentils. add a few drops of oil and turmeric powder. cover and cook the lentils. if the water begins to froth and bubble, then remove the lid or cover it partly and continue to cook the lentils till they become mushy. if the water becomes less, then add some hot water. once the lentils are cooked, then follow the recipe.

      1. Hi,
        I regularly cook mussoor daal as its super easy to make and no need of pressure cooker. I have noticed you have suggested soaking the daal for an hour. In my experience, i just rinse it a few times (no need for soaking) and then boil it in a vessel and the whole daal is well-cooked within 15 mins! I have been cooking it like this for the past 3-4 years. You can try it one day if you are pressing on time 🙂

        1. thanks mriga for being generous with your helpful suggestions. i always cook masoor dal in a pressure cooker. i will try your method. thanks again.

  34. I just made this and it tastes wonderful!! Such great comfort food!! Thank you for sharing this recipe

  35. 5 stars for this simple and lovely dal. i have already made this twice and this is sure to become a staple in our household! thanks so much!5 stars