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Masoor Dal

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Masoor Dal is one of the quickest and delicious dals you can make.

If you like dal and don’t have a lot of time, then masoor dal is the one for you. You just need to rinse the lentils and then cook them for about 20 minutes. You will love the flavour of the tarka that you pour over the lentils just before serving. 

Masoor dal

What is masoor dal?

Masoor dal, also known as red lentils, is a type of lentil that is popular in Indian cuisine and other parts of South Asia. These lentils have a reddish-orange color and a mild, nutty flavor. Masoor dal is a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets due to its high protein content and versatility in various dishes.

What are the key features of masoor dal?

  1. Colour: Masoor dal comes in various varieties, but the most common one is split red lentils, which have a vibrant reddish-orange colour.
  2. Nutritional Profile: Masoor dal is a rich source of protein, fiber, and various essential nutrients, including iron, potassium, and folate. It’s a healthy addition to a balanced diet.
  3. Cooking Characteristics: Masoor dal cooks relatively quickly compared to some other lentils. When you cook it you will find that it breaks down and becomes soft, making it suitable for a variety of dishes such as soups, stews, curries, and even as a base for vegetarian koftas.
  4. Versatility: You can use masoor dal in a variety of Indian and South Asian dishes. In this recipe, you will find that it blends really well with the other ingredients and becomes thick and creamy.

How do you prepare and cook masoor dal?

To prepare masoor dal, you just need to wash and then cook in water or broth until it reaches a soft, mushy consistency. I usually soak it for about 10 minutes before cooking but that step is optional. The cooking time can vary depending on whether the dal is whole or split.

In this masoor dal recipes and many others you add various spices like cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric and chili powder to enhance its flavour. This is a south Indian masoor dal recipe which calls for coconut milk and I think it really takes masoor dal up a few notches. 

How do you serve masoor dal?

You may have been served masoor dal without even knowing it. At many curry houses, it’s masoor lentils they use for the tarka dal. I have a curry house version for you here.

In the West, masoor dal is usually served as a side dish but it can also be served over rice or with homemade chapatis and served as a main.

What do you serve with this dal?

You can serve masoor dal with whatever you like. If you are serving the dal as a side dish for a curry, I have hundreds of curries for you to try. Why not give some of these new one pot curry house style curries a try?

If you would like to serve your masoor dal with naans, I have you covered! Try instant naans, Peshwari naans, stove top naans, keema naans, garlic naans, tandoor naans (if you have a tandoor oven), or if you’re cooking outdoors, karahi naans.

This masoor dal is great served simply over white Basmati rice

Should you use vegetable oil or coconut oil for the tarka?

I use coconut oil because it adds flavour. You can use a neutral vegetable oil like rapeseed (canola) oil if you prefer.

In northern India, the tarka is often made using the same amount of ghee and the coconut milk would probably not feature. 

Can you work ahead?

Yes. Feel free to cook the masoor dal a couple of days ahead of serving. It keeps really well in the fridge for about 3 days. You can also prepare the tarka for the dal a couple of days ahead of serving.

Then just heat your dal and tarka. Pour the tarka over the dal and serve.

Is this masoor dal vegan?

Yes. It’s 100% vegan dal. The addition of coconut, you will find that the coconut cream in the recipe gives it a creamy texture that is not to be missed!

Do you have any vegan curries that can be served with this dal?

Yes! You really need to try rajma, a kidney bean curry from the Punjab. Just leave out the ghee or use a vegan alternative. Black eyed pea curry and broccoli curry from Kerala are both delicious served with this dal.

Step by step photos…

Ingredients for masoor dal

Get all your ingredients together before you start cooking. It’s easier that way.

Slimming the foam off the simmering lentils

Cover the soaked lentils with water and bring to a simmer. As it heats up, foam will rise to the top. Skim that off.

Simmering the lentils

Cook the lentils until soft. This should only take about 10 to 15 minutes. Add more water if needed to stop the lentils from burning to the bottom of the pan.

Adding the coconut milk and chili powder.

Stir in the chili powder and coconut milk and continue simmering to thicken some.

Preparing the tarka. Infusing mustard seeds, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom and curry leaves into hot ghee.

You can prepare the tarka while the lentils are cooking. Infuse the whole spices and curry leaves into the hot ghee for about a minute.

Adding onions, chilies and garlic to the ghee.

Stir in the chopped onions and fry for about 5 minutes. Then stir in the garlic and chilies and fry for a further minute.

Adding the tarka to the cooked masoor lentils

Once all the tarka ingredients are nice and soft, add them to the cooked lentils.

Stirring the tarka into the lentils and adding salt and pepper to taste.

Stir the tarka into the lentils and add salt and pepper to taste.

Masoor dal in a serving bowl.

Serve the lentils as a side for any curry, especially South Indian curries.

Masoor dal served over rice.

This masoori dal is also a meal in its own right. Delicious served simply over white rice.


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If you like this masoor dal recipe, you might like to try some of the Indian Vegetarian favourites.

Dum Aloo
Pakistani Chickpea Biryani
Punjabi Saag Curry
Punjabi Rajma
Butternut Squash Curry
Sri Lankan Green Beans Curry
Aloo Gobi
Saag Paneer
Onion Pakora Curry
Chana Saag Curry
Potato Curry
Mushroom Curry
Masala Corn
Gobi Manchurian
Bombay Potatoes
Masala Dosa
Saag Aloo
Tandoori Hummus
Tarka Dal
Masoor Dal
Dal Makhani
Chana Dal
Homemade Poppadoms From Scratch
Green Bean Thoran
Cabbage Thoran

Have you tried this masoor recipe?

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Yield: 4 - 6

Keralan Masoor Dhal With Coconut

Masoor dal in a serving bowl.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 200g masoor dhal – rinsed and soaked in water for 10 minutes
  • Water to cook
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder (optional and more or less to taste)
  • 200ml thick coconut milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 4 tbsp. rapeseed (canola) oil or coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 3 dried Kashmiri chillies – broken into pieces and seeds removed
  • 1 red onion – finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic – finely sliced
  • 3 green chillies


  1. Rinse and then soak the lentils for about 10 minutes. Then strain the lentils and set aside.
  2. Cover the masoor lentils with fresh water in a saucepan and simmer over medium high heat until soft. This should take about 20 minutes. Skim off any foam that comes to the top. Once soft, add the turmeric, chili powder, if using and coconut milk and simmer for a further five minutes.
  3. To save time, you can make the tarka while the lentils are cooking. To make the tarka, heat the oil over medium high heat in a small frying pan. When visibly hot, add the mustard seeds. When they begin to pop, stir in the cumin seeds, curry leaves and Kashmiri chillies. Allow this all to sizzle in the oil for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped onion.
  4. Fry the onion until translucent and soft. About five minutes should do the trick. Now add the garlic and green chillies. You only want to soften the garlic so be careful not to burn it or it will become bitter.
  5. When the dhal is cooked, pour the tarka mixture over the top. Season with salt to taste and garnish with the chopped coriander. You can eat this on its own or serve over rice.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 203Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 175mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

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Finished masoor dal, seasoned with salt and garnished with coriander (cilantro).

> Season with salt to taste and garnish with the chopped coriander.


Sunday 4th of March 2018

This was beautiful, absolutely lovely. I served it with plain boiled rice and your chicken tikka (also amazing) and I'm finding it hard to believe I created something so delicious. Still grinning! Thank you and keep up the hard work!


Dan Toombs

Tuesday 6th of March 2018

Thank you very much Liz! I'm really happy you are enjoying the recipes.


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