Red Lentil Curry
Red Lentil Curry
5 from 26 votes
This masoor dal recipe, known as red lentil curry in English, is flavourful, nutritious, and delicious. Lightly spiced yet packed with flavour this dal curry recipe is perfect for any diet even if you’re a vegan or coeliac sufferer or even just trying to be healthy.
Red Lentil Curry

Let me introduce you to the exquisite dish, the red lentil curry, a star in its own right within the world of culinary delights. Originating from the heart of the Indian subcontinent, this dish has served as a staple for millions over centuries.  

This vegetarian delicacy, known as ‘Masoor Dal’ in Hindi, holds a prominent place in everyday Indian meals, owing to its high nutrient value and easy-to-make nature. 

Journeying through time and space, red lentil curry has evolved, adopting a myriad of flavours and textures from the regions it passed through, culminating in the tantalizing dish we relish today.  

Its popularity isn’t confined to Indian borders; it has made its way to the tables of food connoisseurs worldwide, enticing them with its simplicity and depth of flavour. 

Is it a hard taskmaster, you ask? On the contrary, whipping up this delight is an inviting process even for beginners in the kitchen.  

If you are a novice on the culinary scene, red lentil curry is an excellent dish to hone your skills. Trust me, even the most daunting kitchen phobics can master it with a bit of love and attention. 

Every spoonful of this curry embodies the essence of the region it hails from. Its rich, earthy flavours hint at the expansive wheat fields, the blazing sunsets, and the bustling spice markets of India.  

But what makes it truly remarkable is its versatility. It cosies up perfectly with a plate of hot rice, forms a delicious duo with flatbreads, and serves as a hearty soup when the need arises. 

Ah, the excitement doesn’t stop here. Red lentil curry, with its mélange of spices, not only excites your taste buds but also nourishes your body. It’s high in fibre, and protein, and packed with essential nutrients, making it a crowd-pleaser that’s equally satisfying and nutritious. 

Diving a bit deeper into the culinary arts, I must say, creating this dish is more than just following a recipe. It’s about understanding the interplay of spices, the magic that happens when they meet heat, and the transformation of humble lentils into something truly spectacular. 

Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast wanting to experiment with international cuisines or a busy bee searching for an easy, nutritious meal, red lentil curry is a win-win.  

So, grab your apron, stock up on spices, and get ready to embark on a gastronomical adventure that promises to be as enriching as it is delicious. Let’s take a dive into the world of ‘Masoor Dal’, and I promise, it’s a journey you won’t forget. 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

As we embark on this flavourful journey of cooking our red lentil curry, it’s imperative to understand the characters that play a part in this gastronomic act.  

Each ingredient, as unassuming as it may seem, has a significant role to play. They come together to form harmony, creating a dish that’s greater than the sum of its parts. So, let’s dive right into it, shall we? 

Lentils: The lead actor in our culinary drama, red lentils, are an absolute powerhouse of nutrients. They add a distinct earthy flavour that forms the base of our curry.  

Lentils are the heart of the dish, providing a hearty texture and absorbing the flavours of the spices beautifully. If red lentils aren’t readily available, green or brown lentils could be a viable substitute, although the final dish might have a slightly different taste and texture. 

Oil: The medium that facilitates the magic, oil is a vital component of the curry. It’s the stage on which the aromatic spices perform their dance, releasing their flavours.  

While any neutral oil would work, I often opt for canola or sunflower oil. If you’re aiming for a richer, more authentic flavour, ghee (clarified butter) could be a splendid alternative. 

Cumin Seeds: Cumin seeds are like the opening act in our curry production. They’re added to the hot oil, where they pop and sizzle, releasing a smoky, earthy aroma that forms the flavour backbone of the dish.  

You could consider using caraway seeds if cumin isn’t available, but they do have a somewhat stronger flavour. 

Onion and Garlic: The dynamic duo of onion and garlic create the aromatic base for our curry. They impart a profound savoury depth, often termed ‘umami’, which makes the curry taste well-rounded.  

If you’re out of fresh garlic, garlic powder could serve as an emergency backup, although the fresh one is unbeatable. 

Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes add a subtle sweetness and tanginess that balance the earthy flavours of the curry. They break down to form a luscious base for the lentils to cook in. If fresh tomatoes aren’t at hand, canned diced tomatoes could fill in for them. 

Spices: Spices are like the orchestra of our show, setting the mood and tone of the dish. They add colour, warmth, and a depth of flavour that’s quintessential to the red lentil curry.  

Each spice has a unique profile: Salt enhances the flavours, chilli powder adds a kick of heat, and turmeric provides a golden hue and subtle earthiness. 

Green Chillies and Coriander: Green chillies offer a fresh, piercing heat that’s different from the warming heat of chilli powder. Coriander leaves, with their citrusy, slightly peppery flavour, add a finishing touch, lifting the dish with their freshness. 

So, there you have it! Each ingredient, as simple as it may seem, contributes to creating a symphony of flavours that is the red lentil curry. Remember, while substitutions can work in a pinch, for the most authentic experience, stick to the original script.  

But feel free to improvise and make the dish your own. After all, the kitchen is your stage, and you’re the star performer! Enjoy the act of creation, and I promise, the applause of your satisfied taste buds will be the best reward. 

Unpacking the Nutritional Content of Red Lentil Curry 

If you’re a health-conscious food lover like me, you’re always on the lookout for dishes that pack a flavourful punch without compromising nutritional value. Enter the red lentil curry – a heart-warming medley of flavours that nourishes your body and your soul. 

At the heart of this dish are red lentils, a type of legume that is revered for its nutrient richness. I find them a superb source of plant-based protein, which is crucial for muscle building and overall growth. Additionally, they offer a hearty dose of dietary fibre that aids digestion and promotes feelings of satiety. 

Next up in our ingredient list is a culinary duo that I simply cannot do without – onions and garlic.  

Apart from adding a depth of flavour to the curry, they’re known for their remarkable health benefits. Onions, being rich in antioxidants, help combat oxidative stress, while garlic, with its allicin content, promotes heart health. 

The spices in the red lentil curry are more than just flavour enhancers. Turmeric, with its active ingredient curcumin, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  

Similarly, cumin aids digestion and has a positive impact on blood sugar levels. And let’s not forget chilli powder, which can help rev up your metabolism, thanks to its capsaicin content. 

Tomatoes are the next star on our stage. They bring not only a tangy sweetness but also a treasure trove of nutrients to the curry. Tomatoes are rich in vitamins C and K, as well as potassium. They’re also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits. 

Finally, we’ve got the green chillies and coriander. Green chillies are loaded with vitamin C, which helps boost immunity, and capsaicin, which aids in weight loss. Coriander, apart from being an excellent source of dietary fibre, is packed with several essential vitamins and minerals. 

All these ingredients come together to create a curry that is not only delightful to the palate but also beneficial for the body. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or just someone trying to maintain a healthy diet, the red lentil curry ticks all the boxes. 

Crafting the Perfect Vegan Red Lentil Curry 

I understand the struggle of finding recipes that are both delicious and align with dietary restrictions or choices. If you’re a vegan searching for a hearty and satisfying dish, look no further than the red lentil curry. 

The best part about the red lentil curry is that it is inherently vegan. Lentils, the star of this dish, are a vegan’s best friend. They’re a fantastic source of protein, helping to maintain muscle mass, and are rich in essential nutrients like iron and zinc, which are often a concern in a vegan diet. 

Starting with heating oil in a pan, we add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle, releasing a smoky, earthy aroma. While some might argue that ghee (clarified butter) offers a richer flavour, vegetable or canola oil works perfectly for this vegan version without compromising the depth of taste. 

We then add finely chopped garlic and diced onions, letting them soften and caramelize. This process infuses the oil with flavour, creating an aromatic base for the curry. We then throw in the spices – salt, chilli powder, and turmeric – letting them bloom in the hot oil, which helps enhance their flavours. 

Next, come the fresh tomatoes and green chillies. As they cook, the tomatoes break down and mingle with the spices, creating a flavourful gravy for the lentils to simmer in. Finally, the washed lentils are added and left to cook until they’re soft and creamy. 

Garnished with a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves, the vegan red lentil curry is ready to serve. You can pair it with vegan naan bread or steamed rice for a wholesome meal. 

What I love most about this vegan red lentil curry is its adaptability. You can experiment with adding other vegetables like spinach or carrots or adjust the level of spices according to your preference. Just remember, food, much like life, is all about finding balance. 

Mastering the Art of Pairing with Red Lentil Curry 

As someone who takes great pleasure in the art of cooking, I find it fascinating how certain dishes can be elevated to another level when paired with the right accompaniment. Our beloved red lentil curry is no exception to this. 

Red lentil curry, with its rich, vibrant flavour profile, pairs well with a multitude of dishes. Its inherent warmth and heartiness make it a versatile player in the culinary field. 

A classic choice would be a portion of fluffy, steamed basmati rice. The subtle, fragrant notes of the rice balance beautifully with the spicy, robust lentil curry.  

It’s a culinary dance of two distinct flavours, neither overpowering the other, making for a harmonious meal. You can also try brown rice for added nutritional value. 

A different yet equally delightful pairing for the red lentil curry is a flatbread like naan bread or chapati. These breads act as the perfect vessel to scoop up the curry, their mild flavour complementing the spice-laden lentils.  

Imagine tearing a piece of warm, soft bread, dipping it into the creamy lentil curry, and tasting the burst of flavours – it’s truly a moment of culinary bliss. 

For those looking for low-carb options, cauliflower rice is an excellent choice. It carries the flavours of the curry well while offering a lighter, yet satisfying meal. 

When it comes to beverages, a cooling drink can help counterbalance the spiciness of the curry. I often prefer a glass of mango lassi – a yoghurt-based Indian drink, which helps soothe the palate.  

If you prefer wine, a crisp, fruity white wine like Riesling or a light rosé would be an ideal choice. Their slight sweetness complements the spicy, savoury flavours of the curry. 

Remember, the magic of food lies in experimenting. Don’t shy away from trying out unconventional pairings. You never know, you might stumble upon a combination that tantalizes your taste buds like never before! 

Guidelines for Storing and Reheating Red Lentil Curry 

The beauty of a dish like the red lentil curry is not just in its taste but also in its ability to be stored and reheated, making it perfect for those busy weekdays when cooking from scratch isn’t feasible. 

After letting the curry cool to room temperature, I usually portion it into air-tight containers. Storing food in smaller portions not only saves space in the refrigerator but also makes it easier to reheat just the amount you need. 

The red lentil curry can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When reheating, it’s essential to ensure that the curry is heated thoroughly.  

I typically reheat it on the stove, adding a splash of water to loosen up the curry if it has thickened too much during storage. Let it simmer until it’s piping hot, and voila – your meal is ready! 

While the microwave can be a quick and convenient option for reheating, it can sometimes heat unevenly. To avoid this, I recommend stirring the curry halfway through reheating to ensure that the heat is evenly distributed. 

The trick to maintaining the freshness of the curry lies in reducing its exposure to heat, air, and light. Therefore, it’s important to keep the container sealed tightly and stored in a cool, dark place in your fridge. 

With these guidelines, you can enjoy your red lentil curry over several days, savouring its depth of flavour and hearty goodness without the daily hassle of cooking. Just remember, food safety is paramount, so always check your leftovers for signs of spoilage before consuming. Happy eating! 

Tips and Tricks for Perfecting the Red Lentil Curry 

Stepping into the world of cooking is an adventure, especially when it comes to dishes like the red lentil curry, where each ingredient plays a crucial role in creating a symphony of flavours. And as your culinary guide, I’m here to provide tips and tricks to help you navigate this journey. 

First off, let’s talk about lentils. The type of lentils you use can make a world of difference. For this curry, I prefer using red lentils. Their nutty and sweet flavour, coupled with their tendency to break down during cooking, results in a creamy, hearty curry. 

Rinsing the lentils before cooking is an essential step. It helps remove any dust or impurities and also gets rid of the extra starch, preventing the lentils from clumping together. 

When it comes to spices, it’s crucial to let them bloom in the hot oil. This process, known as tempering, helps release the essential oils, intensifying the flavour of the spices. Remember, though, spices burn easily, so keep the heat medium and stir continuously to prevent them from getting scorched. 

One more thing I find helps enhance the flavour of the curry is caramelizing the onions well. It might take a bit more time, but the payoff is a naturally sweet, rich flavour base that brings a whole new dimension to the curry. 

And lastly, don’t be afraid to adjust the seasonings. Everyone’s taste buds are different. What might be perfect for me could be a bit too spicy or not salty enough for you. Feel free to taste and adjust the spices as per your preference. 

With these tips and tricks, I’m confident that you’ll master the art of making red lentil curry in no time. Happy cooking! 

The Cultural Significance of Red Lentil Curry 

Food is a reflection of culture, and as a lover of all things culinary, I believe understanding the cultural significance of a dish enhances the appreciation we have for it. The red lentil curry, a staple in many South Asian households, is a dish rich in culture and tradition. 

The affordability, availability, and nutritional value of lentils have made them a dietary staple, particularly among the vegetarian population. 

In the Indian subcontinent, lentils are called ‘dal,’ and the red lentil curry, often known as ‘Masoor Dal,’ holds a special place in the region’s diverse culinary repertoire. Its comfort-food status stems from its simplicity and the comforting warmth it provides. 

The act of sharing a bowl of red lentil curry and rice, known as ‘Dal-Chawal,’ transcends the ordinary dining experience, becoming a symbol of home, comfort, and familial love.  

In many households, this humble dish is often the first solid food given to toddlers, marking the beginning of a lifelong relationship with food. 

The spices used in the curry – cumin, turmeric, chilli – represent the quintessential flavours of South Asian cuisine, each bringing not just taste but also a wealth of health benefits.  

The art of balancing these spices in the curry is a skill passed down through generations, holding the essence of culinary tradition. 

The red lentil curry’s rich cultural significance makes it more than just a dish – it’s a testament to the history, tradition, and love embedded in South Asian cuisine. So, the next time you enjoy a bowl of red lentil curry, remember, you’re not just savouring a dish; you’re partaking in a rich, culinary heritage. 

Red Lentil Curry for Weight Loss: Is it a Good Choice 

When it comes to my approach to cooking, I like to believe that food can be both nourishing and delicious. Our red lentil curry fits that philosophy to a tee. Bursting with flavours, it’s not just a treat for the taste buds, but also a boon for those looking to maintain or lose weight. 

To begin with, lentils are a fantastic source of dietary fibre. Fibre is well-known for its role in promoting a feeling of satiety, which can prevent overeating and unnecessary snacking. As the main ingredient in our curry, red lentils not only make the dish hearty and satisfying but also help in managing weight. 

The spices used in the curry, including cumin and turmeric, are not just flavour enhancers but also carry potential health benefits.  

For instance, cumin is believed to boost our metabolism, while turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. These spices, integral to our red lentil curry, contribute to the overall wellness factor of the dish. 

Moreover, this curry can be easily adapted to cater to a low-fat diet. For example, one could reduce the amount of oil used, or replace it with a low-calorie cooking spray. Also, by serving the curry with whole grain rotis or brown rice, one can increase the dish’s fibre content further. 

However, it’s important to remember that weight loss is a complex process and varies from person to person. Incorporating red lentil curry into a balanced, varied diet, complemented by regular exercise, can indeed support weight loss. 

Remember, it’s not just about losing weight but nurturing a healthy relationship with food. And what’s better than a dish that’s a joy to eat and beneficial for your health at the same time? So, go ahead and savour that bowl of red lentil curry without any guilt! 

Can Red Lentil Curry be Made without Tomatoes 

I know the kitchen is a place for innovation and flexibility. The red lentil curry, though traditionally made with tomatoes, can indeed be prepared without them. 

Tomatoes lend a tangy flavour and a rich colour to the curry, but I understand that dietary restrictions or personal preference might prompt one to seek alternatives. Luckily, there are several other ingredients that can be used instead, without compromising on the overall taste of the curry. 

One such ingredient is tamarind. It’s a common substitute for tomatoes in many cuisines due to its sour flavour profile. A small amount of tamarind paste can replace tomatoes, adding a unique tang to the curry. 

Lemon or lime juice is another viable option. The citrusy notes can replicate the acidity of tomatoes, and a dash of it added towards the end of cooking can brighten up the curry. However, due to the potent flavour, it’s best to add it sparingly and adjust to taste. 

Another alternative could be yoghurt. Not only will it add a creamy texture to the curry, but its tartness can compensate for the missing tomatoes. One thing to keep in mind while using yoghurt is to lower the heat and stir continuously to prevent it from curdling. 

The beauty of cooking lies in its flexibility. It encourages one to adapt and innovate as per one’s preferences and needs. Remember, the essence of the red lentil curry lies in its hearty, comforting nature, and that remains constant, tomatoes or not! 

How to Make Red Lentil Curry Creamier 

Every cook loves to put their spin on a classic recipe, and for me, making the red lentil curry creamier is my preferred tweak. A creamy curry is comforting, and luscious, and adds a touch of decadence to the humble red lentil curry. 

One of the easiest ways to make the curry creamier is to let the lentils break down during cooking. As they cook, the red lentils disintegrate, giving the curry a naturally thicker, creamier consistency.  

If you prefer an even smoother texture, consider using a hand blender to puree the curry lightly once the lentils are cooked. 

Another method I love is adding coconut milk or cream. The natural creaminess and subtle sweetness of coconut milk work beautifully with the spices, transforming the dish into a rich, velvety curry.  

You can add it towards the end of cooking, letting it simmer for a few minutes for the flavours to meld. 

Yoghurt is also an excellent addition to increase creaminess. However, be cautious when using yoghurt – it can curdle if exposed to high heat. To avoid this, you can whisk it well, lower the heat, and then gradually add it to the curry while continuously stirring. 

Even a splash of heavy cream can do wonders. It gives the curry an indulgent richness that’s hard to resist. Add it in the final stages of cooking, and remember to adjust the seasoning as the cream can dilute the spices. 

Regardless of the method you choose, remember that making a curry creamier is more about personal preference. There’s no right or wrong, so feel free to experiment and find what tickles your taste buds the most. Because that’s what cooking is all about, isn’t it? 

Adjusting the Spice Levels in Red Lentil Curry 

I can vouch for the fact that spices make all the difference in a dish, especially in a red lentil curry. However, the heat level of the curry can be a tricky matter, as everyone has a different spice tolerance.  

Thankfully, there are several ways to adjust the spice levels to cater to everyone’s taste. 

Firstly, control the amount of chilli powder used in the curry. Chilli powder is the main source of heat, and reducing its quantity can significantly mellow down the spice level. 

If you’ve already added the spices and find the curry too hot, don’t fret! There are still ways to salvage it. One method I frequently use is adding a dairy product like yoghurt or cream. The fat in dairy helps counteract the heat and also gives the curry a creamy texture. 

Another foolproof method is adding a sweet component like a spoonful of sugar or a dash of coconut milk. The sweetness helps balance the heat and adds a pleasant contrast to the flavours. 

Increasing the quantity of the curry can also dilute the spiciness. Adding more lentils, tomatoes, or water can reduce the heat without altering the core flavours of the curry. 

Remember, the beauty of homemade food lies in its flexibility. Don’t be afraid to play around with spices, because that’s how you’ll make a dish that’s perfectly suited to your taste. After all, that’s the beauty of making your own red lentil curry – it’s tailor-made, just for you! 

Check Out These Other Recipes 

Ever since I started experimenting with the delightful crunch of Fish Pakora, I’ve become a true aficionado of the deep-fried, golden nuggets of goodness that Indian cuisine has to offer.

Let me share with you some of my top picks that are bound to keep your taste buds tingling! First off, if you enjoy the light, flaky texture of Fish Pakora, you’ll absolutely love Chicken Pakora.  

I swapped out fish for tender morsels of chicken, maintaining that crispy batter while providing a completely new depth of flavour. The result? An irresistible snack that you won’t be able to stop munching on! 

If you’re vegetarian or simply looking for a more plant-based option, Vegetable Pakora is your go-to. This dish uses a colourful medley of fresh veggies which I deep-fry until they reach peak crunchiness. It’s like eating a rainbow, only this one tastes incredible with every bite. 

Now, Aloo Pakora is where things get interesting. Imagine the humble potato elevated to the next level – thinly sliced, cloaked in a spiced gram flour batter, and then fried to perfection. The result is a snack so divine, it’ll make you rethink everything you thought you knew about potatoes! 

Onion Pakora, for me, is like a festival in a bite. The natural sweetness of the onions caramelizes beautifully when deep-fried, contrasting with the spicy batter in a dance of flavours that’s truly addictive. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of chai on a rainy day. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the Masala Fish. If you’re a seafood lover like me, then this recipe is a must-try. I marinate the fish in a blend of aromatic spices before lightly frying it. The result is a dish that’s packed with flavour, yet wonderfully light and delicate. 

Do you have your own favourite version of pakora or any other appetizer that you’d like to share? I’d absolutely love to hear about it in the comments below! Together, we can explore the wide, wonderful world of delicious bites. 

Red Lentil Curry

Red Lentil Curry

by Nabeela Kauser
This masoor dal recipe, known as red lentil curry in English, is flavourful, nutritious, and delicious. Lightly spiced yet packed with flavour this dal curry recipe is perfect for any diet.
5 from 26 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6
Calories 273 kcal


  • 300 g Lentils Masoor Dal
  • 50 ml Oil
  • 2 tsp Cumin Seeds Jeera
  • 1 Onions
  • 4 Garlic
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder Haldi
  • 1 litre Water
  • 2 Green Chillies
  • Coriander


  • In a pan add the oil and heat up on medium heat until hot
  • Add the cumin seeds and finely chopped garlic then sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant
  • Add the finely diced onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until softened
  • Add the salt, chilli powder, turmeric powder, and finely chopped green chillies then cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the chopped tomato and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft
  • As the tomatoes are cooking wash the lentils then cook for 3-4 minutes
  • Add the water then mix before covering and cook for 20 minutes on medium heat until soft
  • Remove lid and cook for 2-3 minutes until thickened to personal preference
  • Serve with homemade chapatti and enjoy!



Nutritional facts:
The provision of nutritional information is done so merely as a courtesy and should not be taken as a guarantee.


Calories: 273kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 14gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.03gSodium: 459mgPotassium: 640mgFibre: 17gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 514IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 5mg
Keyword Curry, Dal, Food, Healthy, Lentils, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Mention @CookwithNabeela or tag #CookwithNabeela!

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2 years ago

5 stars
Thanks so much made this twice thanks to you!! X

Bill Vinett
Bill Vinett
11 months ago

5 stars
Followed the recipe. Best dal I’ve eaten. This will be in regular rotation. Just delicious.


Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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