Masoor Dal: The Red Lentil Curry 

A rich, tasty, aromatic curry that is so flavorful you won’t need any additional accompaniment. This masoor dal, aka red lentil curry, is packed with protein and fiber, making it a nutritious and satisfying meal.

A bowl of Masoor Dal with cilantro and green chilies garnish.

Masoor Dal

I’m back with another recipe! A rich, comforting, tasty masoor dal, also known as red lentil curry in English.

It is one of the easiest meals I regularly make, with the most satisfying and comforting taste you get from a dish.

Masoor dal the red lentil curry in a white bowl, garnished with cilantro and green chilies.

This masoor dal can be ready in 30-40 minutes and is very simple to prepare. You can effortlessly make a complete, savory, and nutritious dinner in less than an hour. This curry is hearty with comforting flavors that will help you forget the frigid weather. It’s the ideal comfort food!

And it is one of the most commonly prepared dals in Pakistani homes and one of my kids’ favorites. It is often served for lunch or dinner with rice or traditional flatbreads like roti, paratha, or naan bread. I often make this dish once every other week, as it’s my family favorite, with the taste and texture that everyone is craving.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe?

  • Perfect for Midweek Dinner: This dish is perfect for a busy midweek dinner because it can be ready in 30-40 minutes.
  • Amazingly Flavorful: A well-balanced amount of spices, along with fresh ginger, garlic, and chili, make the curry flavorsome.
  • Kids-Friendly: The curry is mild enough for the whole family to enjoy, but you can always add more spice if you like.
  • Budget-Friendly Meal: All the ingredients can easily be found in most supermarkets and Asian grocery stores at reasonable prices.
  • Nourishing: This red lentil curry is packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredients like garlic, ginger, and turmeric. Additionally, red lentils are a great source of protein.
  • Hearty Dinner: Red lentils pair well with rice or roti for a satisfying meal.

Ingredients You Need

  • Masoor dal: Also known as red lentils in English, are small, lens-shaped legumes known for their quick cooking time. They have a mild, nutty flavor and are an excellent plant-based protein and dietary fiber source. They are easily available at most grocery stores.
  • Cooking oil: You can use any oil, such as sunflower, canola, mustard oil, avocado, olive oil, or groundnut oil. And if you want a 
  • Garlic: An essential ingredient in curries because it adds a warm, aromatic flavor. It also has a slightly savory taste that can complement other dishes’ flavors. 
  • Ginger: This root spice is good for digestion and adds a lovely aroma and flavor to this dal curry.
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: Pakistani curries are incomplete without red chili. Kashmiri red chili adds the desired heat and color to my dishes.
  • Water: You can use hot boiling water from the kettle or tap to quicken the cooking process.
  • Turmeric powder: A warm Indian staple spice, comes with multiple health benefits.
  • Himalayan pink salt: Use according to your taste.
  • Garam masala: Do not skip garam masala, which is a necessary ingredient in many Pakistani curry recipes.
  • Fresh green chilies:  Used in tempering, they bring amazing aroma and flavor. You can use dried small red chilies, also called button red chilies.
  • A handful of cilantro (coriander leaves): I used coriander leaves as a garnish.

How To Make Red Lentil Curry

Wash and rinse the lentils several times, and then leave them to soak in plenty of water while you get on with other things.

Make ginger-garlic paste. Grind the ginger and 1 garlic into a paste using a food chopper or pestle and mortar.

Photo collage of how to cook masoor dal.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large cooking pot, and add ginger-garlic paste and chili powder. Stir-fry until it sizzles.

Carefully pour the water into the pan, and add the strained masoor dal, salt, and turmeric. Cook at medium-high heat until the water reaches boiling point. If you like, you can use hot boiling water from the kettle to speed up the process.

Once the water boils, put the lid on the pan with a slight ajar and lower the heat. Let it cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and fully cooked. Slice the remaining garlic and chop the fresh green chilies if using.

Photo collage of making red lentil curry.

Prepare tempering or tadka. Heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and add garlic and chilies. Fry until the garlic turns golden brown. 

Add tadka to the lentil pot by carefully transferring the garlic, chilies, and oil to the red lentil pot. Add garam masala and give it a stir. Let the curry simmer for 2-3 minutes before turning the heat off.

Garnish with chopped cilantro while serving. 

Storage Directions

  1. Let it cool down to room temperature.
  2. Pour it into airtight containers.
  3. If you have a large batch of curry, consider portioning it into smaller containers or meal-sized portions. This allows you to thaw and use only what you need, reducing waste.
  4. If you plan to consume the curry within the next 2-3 days, store it in the refrigerator. And, if you want to store the curry for a longer period, freeze it. It can be frozen for up to two months.
  5. When you’re ready to enjoy the curry, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, reheat the curry on the stovetop or microwave until it is piping hot, stirring occasionally. Ensure you consume the thawed curry within a few days, and you must not refreeze it. 
Red lentil curry garnished with cilantro and green chilies.

Pro Tips For Delicious Masoor Dal

  • Cooking Time: Soak the lentils in plenty of water a few hours before cooking. So they will not take time to cook. Or, you can use an instant pot or pressure cooker to shorten the cooking process. 
  • Adjust the Consistency: If you prefer a thicker curry, simmer it for a bit longer to allow the liquid to reduce. Conversely, if you want a thinner curry, add more water.
  • Green Chilies: The fresh green chilies and dried chilies are optional. You can omit them altogether if you prefer the mild flavor of masoor dal. Although I recommend you use dried small red chilies at the very least. They do not give spiciness to the curry unless you cut them, but they give an extra delicious aroma to the dish.
  • Creamy Twist: Add a few tablespoons of fresh cream for a creamier curry. Or, stir in a tablespoon or two of ghee towards the end of cooking for a richer flavor. 
  • Spice Customization: Adjust the amount of spices according to your taste preferences. Feel free to experiment and find the perfect balance of flavors for you by putting more or less your favorite spice. 

Serving Suggestions

This simple red lentil curry can be enjoyed in various ways. Here are some serving ideas to enhance your meal:

  1. Steamed Rice: Serve this masoor dal over steamed basmati rice, matar chawal, or vegetable pilau rice. The fluffy and aromatic rice complements the flavors of the curry and helps to balance the spiciness.
  2. Roti/Naan: Serve the curry with warm, freshly made roti or naan bread. The soft and chewy bread is ideal for scooping up the curry and provides a delightful texture.
  3. Quinoa: For a healthier alternative to rice, consider serving this lentil curry with quinoa. Quinoa provides a nutty flavor and a light, fluffy texture that complements the curry.
  4. Lemon and chilies: Before eating masoor dal, squeeze some fresh juice and scatter some chopped fresh green chilies. They give extra tang and heat that complements the dal.
  5. Yogurt Raita: Prepare a cooling mint yogurt chutney for a refreshing side.
  6. Pappadoms: Serve crispy pappadoms alongside. These thin, crunchy crackers add a delightful texture to the meal.
  7. Chutney: Serve with your favorite chutney, such as tomato and chili chutney or cilantro mint chutney, as condiments to add a burst of flavor.
Lentil curry garnished with cilantro and chilies.

FAQ

Is Masoor Dal And Red Lentils Same?

Yes, they are the same. Masoor dal, often known as red lentils, is a popular and easily accessible choice in most supermarkets or local grocery stores. They are a fantastic option for a quick weeknight meal because they are affordable and quick to cook.  They are naturally gluten-free, rich in protein and fiber, low in calories and fat, and full of taste.

What Is A Substitute For Masoor Dal (Red Lentils) In Curry?

Red lentils add a lovely, creamy texture to this curry. You can use green lentils, split yellow peas, or urad dal if you do not have red lentils. 

Can I Make This Curry Ahead Of Time?

Certainly, this curry can be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated for up to three days. It may also be frozen, allowing you to portion and freeze it for future meals. 

More Lentil Recipe

I have a few more lentil recipes that you may like. Some are vegan-friendly recipes, some are mixed with meat. 

For vegan ones, you can check this whole masoor dal aka brown lentils, or green moong dal aka mung bean curry

As for lentil with meat recipes, try this dal gosht, or shami kebabs.

Thank you for your time. I hope this masoor dal recipe has inspired you to make a new kitchen dish. Food, as I always say, brings people together. Therefore, make enduring memories with your loved ones by sharing this recipe with them!

A bowl of Masoor Dal with cilantro and green chilies garnish.
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Masoor Dal Recipe: The Red Lentil Curry

A rich, tasty, aromatic curry that is so flavorful you won’t need any additional accompaniment. This masoor dal, aka red lentil curry, is packed with protein and fiber, making it a nutritious and satisfying meal.
Author: Devy Dar
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Chopping board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Cooking pot with lid
  • Wooden spoon
  • Small frying pan

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces masoor dal red lentils
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½- inch ginger
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 2-3 fresh green chilies or 4-5 dried small red chilies
  • A handful of cilantro coriander leaves, chopped

Instructions

  • Wash and rinse the lentils several times, then leave to soak in plenty of water. Set aside.
  • Grind the ginger and 1 garlic into a paste using a food chopper or pestle and mortar.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large cooking pot, and add ginger-garlic paste and chili powder. Stir-fry until it sizzles.
  • Carefully pour the water into the pan, strain the masoor dal, and add it to the pan. Add salt and turmeric. Cook at medium-high heat until the water reaches boiling point. If you like, you can use hot boiling water from the kettle to speed up the process.
  • Once the water boils, put the lid on the pan with a slight ajar and lower the heat. Let it cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and fully cooked.
  • Slice the remaining garlic and chop the fresh green chilies if using.
  • Then, heat the remaining oil in a small frying pan and add the garlic, curry leaves and chilies. Fry until the garlic turns golden brown.
  • Carefully transfer the garlic, curry leaves, chilies, and oil to the red lentil pot.
  • Add garam masala and give it a stir. Let the curry simmer for 2-3 minutes before turning the heat off.
  • If you like, stir in one tablespoon of ghee towards the end.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro at serving.

Notes

  • You can use any salt and add it according to taste.
  • The fresh green chilies and dried chilies are optional. You can omit them altogether if you prefer the mild flavor of masoor dal. Although I recommend you use dried small red chilies at the very least. They do not give spiciness to the curry unless you cut them, but they give an extra delicious aroma to the dish.

Nutrition

Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Sodium: 672mg | Potassium: 424mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 119IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 3mg

Disclaimer

Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

Author: Devy Dar

Title: Food Writer, Recipe Developer, and Digital Content Creator.

Bio:

Devy Dar founded So Yummy Recipes and Drizzling Flavor to share her love of food after exploring various cultures and cuisines for more than two decades. Her mission is to help others easily recreate traditional and non-traditional food with readily available ingredients. Her works have been featured in Reader’s Digest, Al Jazeera, MSN, Yahoo, Bon Appetit, and more. 

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