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Whole Masoor Dal in a steel kadhai with slices of lemon and cilantro and spoons.
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5 from 5 votes

Whole Masoor Dal

Here's a recipe for a simple and tasty masoor dal made with whole masoor lentils or brown lentils in a flavorful tomato onion sauce. Serve this dal (also written as "dahl" or "dhal") with rice and/or roti for a delicious and healthy Indian meal.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course/Dal
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Masoor Dal, Whole Masoor Dal
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 85kcal


  • Pressure cooker or Instant Pot (optional)
  • Saucepan with lid


  • 1 cup whole masoor dal (brown lentils)
  • 2 teaspoon coconut oil (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped, divided)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and left whole)
  • 2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 dry red chili pepper (optional, you can skip if sensitive to heat and if the garam masala you use has red chili peppers added to it)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoon paprika (optional, for color)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • Wedges of lemon (for serving)


  • Cook the whole masoor on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot until tender.
  • Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large saucepan. Add the cumin seeds and, when they darken, add half the onions and the cloves of garlic and saute until they turn golden-brown. Add the coriander seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds and the dry red chili pepper, if using. Saute until these ingredients are lightly colored and very fragrant. Then remove them to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  • Once the ingredients have cooled, add them to a blender along with the tomatoes. Blend into a very smooth paste. Add a bit of water if needed to keep the blades moving, although it should not be necessary.
  • Heat the remaining oil in the same saucepan and add the remaining onions. Add a pinch of salt and saute the onions until they are golden-brown. Stir in the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.
  • Add the blended masala and the cooked masoor to the pot along with a cup of the lentil cooking stock, if any, turmeric, paprika, if using, and the sugar. Mix well and let the lentils cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you see pools of darker liquid float to the top, which tells you everything is cooked as it should be. You can add more liquid to the pot at any time for a runnier dal.
  • Sprinkle on the garam masala, stir well, and add more salt as needed. Turn off the heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with wedges of lemon to squeeze on the dal and rice.


  • This masoor dal goes really well with plain white or brown rice. But if you want to make it more fun, serve it with Jeera Rice or Carrot Rice.
  • You can also serve the dal with a fluffly garlic vegan naan.
  • Serve a sabzi or cooked Indian vegetable side with the dal and rice. Jeera Aloo or Aloo Gobi would be great with this.


Calories: 85kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 251mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 346IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 2mg