Masoor Dal is a popular dal made with split red lentils. It is made from readily available ingredients. Split Masoor is available at most grocery stores labeled “red lentils.” It is a quick-cooking dal that has a rich, luscious texture and makes for a flavorful dal.
About this Recipe
This is a homestyle dal, made simply, without a double-tadka. This is a recipe meant to be eaten as an everyday day with little fuss. It starts with a simple tadka and is made altogether in one pot. If you want to fancy things up, you can always add a finishing tadka, but it isn’t necessary.
Why make this dish:
- Quick, weeknight meal
- Vegetarian friendly: can be made vegan by swapping ghee for coconut oil or neutral oil
- A flavorful, comforting dal
- You can make it easier in the Instant Pot or stovetop, whichever you prefer.
This is one of the go-to dals I have been making most of my life. I grew up making it in the pressure cooker, but there was a stretch of time when I didn’t own a pressure cooker. This was one of the recipes that easily adapted to a simple stovetop dish since masoor is a quick-cooking dal.
Masoor dal (red lentils) – masoor is an ancient lentil grown in India even longer than moong. “Red Lentils” found in a grocery store are, at the very least, interchangeable with split masoor and can be used in this recipe.
Garlic – sliced
Ginger – cut into two, so it can flavor the dal and be removed before eating.
Dal Masala – a common Gujarati spice mix specifically made for flavoring dal. You can purchase a packet on Amazon or from an Indian store. If you don’t have it, use garam masala.
I recently tried this with ginger-garlic paste, which is convenient for most recipes when you find ginger and garlic together. It didn’t work for this recipe, giving too sharp a result and spoiling the pleasant finish.
- Don’t burn your ginger. I recommend keeping it in large pieces that are removed before serving, but you can grate it in for more ginger flavor.
- While cooking the dal, it is important to ensure enough liquid in the Instant Pot for the dal. I prefer 1:3 dal to water for a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. This creates a nice, thick consistency for dal. Some people like a watery dal and use a 1:4 ratio.
- Adjust the vaghar to your liking:
- Add hing and curry leaves
- For a more South Indian flavor profile, swap the cumin for mustard seeds, add curry leaves for a more south Indian flavor profile. Add grated coconut or pieces of coconut. Add a bit of tamarind.
- Replace a cup of water for coconut milk
- Add vegetables: spinach, drumsticks, potato, eggplant
- Make it more of a lentil soup by thinning it with more water or broth.
- Add a second tadka to make it fancy. Heat some ghee or oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, add kashmiri chili powder, some kasoori methi, and pour the hot mixture over the dal.
Masoor dal keeps for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. It will thicken as it sits. Heat it on the stovetop or microwave and add a bit of water to adjust consistency to your liking.
Dals like this also freeze very well. You can freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight container. Simply reheat in the microwave or stovetop without defrosting, adding water as needed to get the desired consistency.
Masoor Dal | Instant Pot & Stovetop Red Lentils
- 2 Tbsp oil or ghee
- 1 ½ cups masoor dal split red lentils, rinsed
- 4 ½ cups water
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- ¾ cup chopped fresh or canned tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic sliced
- 1 ” piece of ginger cut into 2
- 1-2 green chillies sliced
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp garam masala or dal masala
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- Cilantro for garnish
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. Heat the oil or ghee.
- Add cumin seeds. Let sizzle for a few seconds. Add onions and let cook until onions soften (about 2 minutes).
- Add ginger and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes. Add turmeric, black pepper, and tomatoes.
- Let tomatoes and green chilies cook until jammy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the dal, water, and salt. Mix well.
- Cook on High Pressure for 7 minutes, followed by a natural pressure release of at least 10 minutes.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode. With the dal still in the Instant Pot, mash it with the back of a spoon about 15 times. Adjust consistency by adding water for a thinner, soupier dal. Add garam masala and simmer for 2 minutes.
- Garnish with cilantro.