When I started the blog, I had vowed to never put up a masoor ki dal recipe. It was one of the first things I learned to cook when I moved to the US. I ate it to death when I was a broke graduate student and later, a struggling entry-level aid worker in Washington D.C. It was a staple so mundane, so easy to make, that I felt it never warranted a separate blog post. Three years later, here I am, sharing a masoor ki dal recipe.
For the last several months, my younger sister has been asking why I don’t have a simple daal recipe on the blog. I actually do: kalee dal and a masoor moong dal. Both are fantastic. But my sister strongly subscribes to the cult of the masoor ki daal and is afraid to cook so wanted the simplest recipe possible.
This past month, I have been cooking up a storm from Sameen Rushdie’s Indian Cookery. Under the lentils section, she shares the ‘ghontna’ process where you stir the daal briskly with a wooden spoon to bring it to the correct consistency. I realize that this is by no means revolutionary. I probably should have known about this years ago but this has been life-changing. It finally allowed me to give my daal a rich, creamy texture, so much so that I think it now warrants its own post.
The recipe below is a very basic recipe for the masoor ki daal that was prepared at my home. You can dress up the recipe as much as you want. In Sameen’s book, she adds whole green chillies, chopped tomatoes and fresh coriander leaves. You can also add various types of greens (for instance, spinach) and tamarind to add sourness. The tadka/bhagar (tempering) that she recommends for this daal comprises fresh kadi pata (curry leaves), dried chilies and white cumin seeds. I have only used a very basic tadka of chopped yellow onions that was more common in my household. Both are wonderful. While the tempering is optional, I highly recommend it.
Happy birthday Jehan, and happy cooking x
Masoor Ki Daal (Red Lentils)
- 1 cup red split masoor lentils
- 2 cups water + more as needed
- 1 tsp red chili flakes or red chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 small onion finely sliced in half moons for the tadka or tempering (optional)
- 4 tbsp 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 tbsp 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