Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

Contributor: Emily Paster

This hearty vegetarian dish is inexpensive, nutritious, customizable and cooks in under 30 minutes.

Garnish with ¼ cup chopped cilantro and 1 small plum tomato, diced.
Serve with Basmati rice and Naan or roti (optional).

  • Author: Emily Paster
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entrée
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian


  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

  • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric

  • 3 Tbsp. ghee or oil

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 1 fresh green chile, such as a jalapeño or Serrano, seeded and minced

  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 15 oz. can diced tomatoes with their juices

  • 1 tsp. garam masala

  • Juice of one lemon


  1. Place 4 cups of water in a medium saucepan and add the lentils, salt and turmeric. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer, covered, until the lentils are cooked through and have absorbed most of the liquid, about 15 minutes.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, make the tarka: melt the ghee in a 10-inch deep skillet or medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry just until they begin to pop, about 1 minute. Add the onion and green chile and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ginger and garlic to the skillet with the onion mixture and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Simmer just until the mixture is heated through, about 5 minutes. Add the garam masala and stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. When the lentils are done, remove the lid and stir. If the mixture is too liquid for your liking, simmer with the cover off until thickened. Mix the tarka into the lentils and stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and taste, adding salt if necessary.
  5. Garnish the dal with chopped cilantro and chopped tomato, if using. Serve alongside steamed Basmati rice and Indian bread, such as naan or roti.