I promised myself when I started this blog that I would never post a masoor ki dal dish. When I initially went to the United States, it was one of the first things I learnt to cook. When I was a broke graduate student and then a struggling entry-level assistance worker in Washington, D.C., I ate it to death. It was a boring, easy-to-make staple that I didn’t think it deserved its own blog article. Here I am, three years later, offering a masoor ki dal dish.

My younger sister has been asking me for months why I don’t have a basic daal recipe on the site. I do, in fact, make kalee dal and masoor moong dal. Both are wonderful. My sister, on the other hand, is a firm believer in the masoor ki daal religion and is terrified of cooking, so she requested the easiest recipe imaginable.

I’ve been cooking my way through Sameen Rushdie’s Indian Cookery for the past month. She describes the ‘ghontna’ procedure, in which the daal is stirred quickly with a wooden spoon to get the desired consistency. I understand that this isn’t exactly revolutionary. This is something I should have understood years ago, yet it has changed my life. It finally allowed me to achieve a thick, creamy texture in my daal, to the point where I believe it now deserves its own post.

The masoor ki daal recipe below is a pretty simple version of one that I made at home. You can make the recipe as fancy as you like. Whole green chilies, sliced tomatoes, and fresh coriander leaves are included in Sameen’s recipe. To add sourness, you can also use other types of greens (for example, spinach) and tamarind. Fresh kadi pata (curry leaves), dried chiles, and white cumin seeds make up the tadka/bhagar (tempering) she advises for this daal. I’ve merely used a simple tadka of chopped yellow onions, which was more typical in my home. Both are fantastic. While tempering is optional, I strongly advise it.


  • 1 cup red split masoor lentils
  • 2 cups water + more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes or red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 small onion finely sliced in half moons for the tadka or tempering (optional)
  • 4 tablespoon canola, sunflower or vegetable oil (optional)


  • Wash lentils till the water runs clear
  • Add the lentils, spices and water to a medium-sized stockpot, and bring to a quick boil
  • Bring the heat down and let the daal simmer
  • When the lentils have absorbed the water (after about 10 minutes), stir the daal with a wooden spoon, pushing it down to achieve desired consistency
  • Add 1-2 cups of hot water (depending on how thin or thick you want your daal to be), stir to mix and let it simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes (again, depending on the consistency you want)
  • To prepare the tadka, in a frying pan heat 4 tablespoon of oil. Add chopped onion and fry on medium heat till it’s golden brown
  • Place daal in serving bowl and pour over the tadka with the oil

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