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Masoor Dhal Recipe – An Indian Red Lentil Dish That Tastes as Good as it Looks

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Masoor Dhal is an easy recipe to learn and make your own.

Masoor dhal is the first Indian food recipe I ever made. It is easy to cook and only takes about forty minutes to prepare and cook.

It is usually the first recipe I teach in my beginning Indian cookery classes. Students, some of whom have never cooked Indian food before, are familiar with most of the ingredients in this recipe. Ghee and turmeric are often foreign to people so they taste them before cooking this dish to memorise the flavours.

Indian cookery is all about learning to combine the amazing flavours that make up Indian food. The more you cook, the more you understand which flavours go well together and even how much to use.

One thing I always emphasise is that Indian cookery is not an exact science. Exact measures simply do not apply.

After you have tried making this masoor dhal using the measures I have recommended, why not try using slightly more onion or ghee. Use less garlic and more ginger. Chances are you will still end up with an amazing dish.

If in doubt, try the ingredient before adding too much. Try to cook with your tough and eyes and not so much by recipes. Above all, have fun and enjoy!

Serves 6

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS for what could be the best masoor Dhal recipe

400g (2 cups) masoor dal
4 Tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
1 Large onion finely chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 (1-inch piece) finely grated ginger
2 green chiles, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch coriander, chopped
1 Tablespoon turmeric
1 tsp salt

1 Tablespoon garam masala (Preferably homemade)


Rinse the red lentils (Masoor Dhal) until the water runs clear. In a heavy bottomed pot, bring 1 litre (4 cups) of water to a boil. Add the rinsed masoor dhal. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes.

While your masoor dhal is simmering away, heat the ghee in a frying pan and add the chopped onion and fry until soft and translucent.

Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and tomatoes to the melted ghee and fry for about two minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add the turmeric and then take the ghee mixture off the heat.

When your the masoor dhal is soft and mashes easily, stir it a few time really hard with a wooden spoon. It should look quite creamy.

Pour the ghee mixture over the masoor dhal. Throw in the chopped coriander, garam masala and salt and mix it all together.

Check your seasoning and serve immediately.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. As you can see, this is an easy masoor dhal recipe but it tastes absolutely amazing!

Masoor Dhal is a favourite at Indian restaurants all over the UK.

Andrew Ward

Tuesday 11th of August 2015

After making this for a party with friends I've never seen such a furore to grab a spoon to dig in. The whole pan went in an instant , not making it into a bowl - was like me feeding them an Indian equivalent of heroin as they all begged for more... Thanks Dan, from a fellow Teessider ! By the way I'm putting to good use some of your teachings at the weekend at a party for my work colleagues at North Tees Hospital - wish me luck

Dan Toombs

Sunday 4th of October 2015

Hi Andrew

Sorry for the late reply. Really glad you enjoyed the recipe. Hope the party went well.

Thank you. Dan

Chris Kelly

Friday 22nd of March 2013

Hi Dan, thanks so much for your blog you have answered my prayers!! How to cook BIR style curry in my own home.

This Masoor Dhal recipe is the first thing I have made from your blog. When it was ready I tasted a spoonful, and was instantly transported into an Indian restaurant. The flavours were completely different from the micro meal or Patak versions I've made at home. I demolished two bowls. My mum, brother, and his wife demolished the rest while I was out. Instant success.

As I write, my first batch of base sauce is simmering away.

I've just read the article about you in The Mirror in which it says you fed your family curry every day for a year. On that note I have a very important and serious question to ask...

Do you need a lodger?

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 26th of March 2013

Lol. Hi Chris

Really glad you liked this recipe. I love it. Please keep in touch.


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