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Large shallow bowl filled with Indian red dal served with brown rice and cilantro.
4.88 from 25 votes

Red Lentil Dal Recipe (Indian Masoor Dal)

My mother-in-law's cherished Masoor Dal is a fragrant and flavorful Indian spiced lentil curry made with red lentils, dried red chilis, onion, garlic, and cumin seeds. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 314kcal


  • 3 cups masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 2 tablespoon oil - (or ghee)
  • 4-8 whole dried red chilies
  • 1 small onion - diced
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 2 teaspoon salt - plus more to taste
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tomatoes (I used Roma tomatoes) - chopped
  • 6 cups water

For the Tadka or "Tempering"

  • 2 tablespoon oil - or ghee
  • 4 whole dried red chilies
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced


  • Thoroughly rinse the lentils in cold running water. Drain thoroughly. If you haven't done so already, dice the onion and mince the garlic. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil (or ghee) in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the dried red chilies and cook for 1 minute before adding the diced onion. Mix well to combine. Cook, stirring frequently until the onions start to soften (approximately 5 minutes or so). Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the salt, turmeric powder, and red lentils to the pot. Mix to combine, add the chopped tomatoes and fill with 6 cups of water. Bring to a low boil. When bubbling, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Approximately 5 minutes before you're ready to serve, prepare the "tadka" (aka tempering). Set a medium skillet over high heat. Add the oil, dried red chilies, and cumin seeds. Allow the dried chilis and cumin seeds to cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until fragrant and browned - stir as needed to prevent burning. In the last minute, stir in the garlic.
  • Carefully pour the tempering oil and spices into the pot with the dal. Mix well to combine.
  • Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro, cooked basmati rice, naan, roti, or paratha.


  • The tadka is the primary source of flavor and seasoning - you do not want to skip this part! However, if you're sensitive to spicy foods, you may want to omit the dried red chilies or cut the total amount in half.
  • Feel free to mix and match the types of lentils you use to make dal. Whole Masoor, (aka Sabut Masoor) has more fiber and can be used in place of hulled masoor dal.
  • Total cook time may vary by brand and freshness of your lentils. In general, fresh lentils take less time to cook, whereas older lentils take longer.


Calories: 314kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 597mg | Potassium: 737mg | Fiber: 21g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 226IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 55mg | Iron: 6mg
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