Whole Masoor Dal
Whole Masoor Dal
5 from 7 votes
Experience the exquisite flavours of India with our authentic whole masoor dal recipe. Easy to prepare, this hearty and nutritious meal promises a culinary adventure for both novice cooks and seasoned foodies. 
Whole Masoor Dal

Get ready for a culinary journey to the heart of India, where we’ll explore the delicious realm of the Whole Masoor Dal. The Whole Masoor Dal is an authentic Indian dish, brimming with the flavours of the subcontinent. Brown lentils, locally known as ‘Masoor Dal,’ are the hero of this recipe.  

They’re cooked to perfection, yielding a rich, creamy dish that’s as nutritious as it is scrumptious. Bursting with vibrant flavours and spices, the Whole Masoor Dal is a staple in many Indian homes, offering comfort and warmth in every spoonful. 

Our delightful dal journey begins in the Northern states of India, where the Whole Masoor Dal originated. The fertile soils of these regions make them perfect for lentil cultivation, contributing to the dish’s widespread popularity.  

Over the centuries, the recipe has travelled across different regions, each adding their unique spin to the dish. Despite its adaptations, the core of the dish – the heart-warming combo of lentils and spices – remains the same. 

The Whole Masoor Dal stands out for its simplicity. It’s a prime example of how, with just a handful of ingredients, one can create magic in the kitchen.  

The dish features an orchestra of spices – from chilli powder bringing the heat, to turmeric and cumin powder offering depth of flavour, to coriander powder adding a touch of freshness. 

But the real star of the show is the ‘Tadka,’ a technique that involves tempering spices in hot butter or oil to release their essential flavours. This final flourish of flavour takes the dish to a whole new level. 

Is this dal difficult to make, you ask? Well, there’s good news for beginners and expert chefs alike! The Whole Masoor Dal is considered a medium-difficulty dish. However, don’t let this intimidate you! With a little bit of patience, practice, and the right ingredients, anyone can master it.  

It’s a straightforward recipe, but its charm lies in its complexity of flavours. Remember, it’s all about the harmony of spices, and each one plays a vital role in the dish’s final taste. 

So why not roll up those sleeves and get ready to dive into the world of Indian cooking with our Whole Masoor Dal recipe?  

Not only will you indulge in a delicious and hearty meal, but you’ll also learn about a new culture, its history, and the love and care that goes into its cuisine. Let’s bring the taste of India right to your kitchen, one spoonful of dal at a time! 

What Ingredients to Use & Why 

Whole Masoor Dal is a comforting, hearty dish brimming with the robustness of lentils and the richness of spices. The harmony of ingredients is carefully curated to enhance not just the flavour, but also the health quotient of this Indian delicacy.  

So, let’s dive deep into understanding the role each ingredient plays in the creation of this beloved dish. 

Whole Masoor Dal (Brown lentils): Brown lentils, the heart of this recipe, are a rich source of protein and fibre. They absorb flavours well and have an earthy taste that provides a wonderful base for this dish.  

The high fibre content helps in keeping you fuller for longer, making this dish both nutritious and satisfying. A potential alternative could be green or red lentils, but they may not hold their shape as well as the whole masoor dal. 

Spices: Each of the spices contribute a distinct taste to the dish. Salt enhances the overall flavour, chilli powder gives it a spicy kick, turmeric offers an earthy flavour and vibrant colour, while cumin and coriander powder contribute warm, aromatic nuances.  

You can alter the proportions as per your preference. If needed, you can replace cumin and coriander powder with garam masala for a slightly different but equally aromatic flavour. 

Coriander: Freshly chopped coriander leaves lend a refreshing note to the hearty dish, making it more appealing and adding a dash of freshness. Parsley or mint could be used as an alternative. 

Butter: In the tadka, butter is used to sauté the spices and garlic. It adds a rich, creamy taste and aroma to the dal, enhancing the overall flavour. An alternative could be ghee (clarified butter) for a nuttier flavour or olive oil for a healthier choice. 

Garlic: Garlic in the tadka imparts a delightful aroma and a slightly pungent flavour that complements the lentils wonderfully. Garlic also has numerous health benefits, including antibacterial and antiviral properties. If you prefer, you can replace it with onion or asafoetida (hing). 

Cumin Seeds: When added to the tadka, cumin seeds provide a smoky and earthy aroma, enriching the dish with its distinctive flavour. Mustard seeds can serve as an alternative, providing a slightly different flavour profile. 

Chilli Powder: An extra dash of chilli powder in the tadka provides that final punch, enhancing the heat in the dish. This can be adjusted according to your preference or even substituted with fresh green chillies for a different kind of heat. 

In conclusion, the whole masoor dal recipe is a well-crafted symphony of ingredients. Each plays its part to perfection, culminating in a delightful melody of flavours and textures that are both nourishing and satisfying.  

So, next time you prepare this dish, you will appreciate not just the taste but the role each ingredient plays in this grand orchestra of flavours. 

Understanding the Whole Masoor Dal Recipe  

If you’ve found your way to this article, then I can imagine you’re probably as much a lover of Indian cuisine as I am. Today, I am talking about one of my personal favourite dishes: Whole Masoor Dal. 

Whole Masoor Dal, or brown lentils, is a widely cherished dish throughout India. It’s a heartening lentil curry that perfectly combines wholesome nutrition with tantalizing flavours. This comforting dish is one of my go-to recipes when I’m in need of a meal that’s both nutritious and easy to prepare. 

The recipe is fairly straightforward. It begins with a simmering pot of water, where rinsed lentils are added alongside a variety of spices such as chilli powder, turmeric powder, cumin, and coriander.  

After the lentils have become tender, the dish is left to simmer until the curry thickens. The final touch comes in the form of a tadka, or tempering, made with butter, garlic, chilli powder, and cumin seeds. 

Despite its simplicity, the magic of this dish lies in its flavours. The lentils absorb the rich spices, while the tadka infuses it with an irresistible aroma. Garnishing with freshly chopped coriander further enhances the dish, adding a fresh note to balance the deep, earthy flavours. 

As well as being delectably delicious, whole masoor dal is also packed with health benefits. Lentils are a powerhouse of fibre and protein, which aids digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness.  

The spices, too, boast their own health properties; for instance, turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. 

In essence, the Whole Masoor Dal recipe offers an incredible blend of nutrition and flavour. It’s a staple in many Indian households, and once you’ve tried it, I’m sure it will become a favourite in your home too. 

Cooking Time for Whole Masoor Dal  

Preparing Whole Masoor Dal, like any other dish, involves a little bit of time. However, I find that the wait is undoubtedly worth it for the delicious and heartening meal you’re rewarded with at the end. 

The bulk of the cooking time for Whole Masoor Dal revolves around allowing the lentils to become tender and absorb the rich array of spices. This process generally takes around 30 minutes. It’s vital to maintain a low heat during this time to prevent the lentils from burning and to encourage even cooking. 

After the lentils have reached the desired level of tenderness, I leave the curry to simmer until it thickens. The duration of this process can vary according to personal preference.  

I like my Whole Masoor Dal to have a creamy consistency, which usually takes around 10 to 15 minutes of additional simmering. 

The final step of the cooking process involves preparing the tadka, or tempering. This step is fairly quick and generally takes no more than a few minutes.  

It involves melting butter in a separate pan, then adding chopped garlic, chilli powder, and cumin seeds, and sautéing them until they release their delightful aroma. 

All in all, I find that the whole process, from start to finish, takes me around 45 to 50 minutes. However, this can vary depending on personal preferences and the specifics of your kitchen equipment. Keep in mind, the goal is to achieve a curry that’s thick, aromatic, and filled with tender lentils. 

The joy of cooking comes from the process itself as much as from the delicious results. So, while Whole Masoor Dal might take a little time to prepare, the result is a hearty, flavourful meal that surely makes every minute spent in the kitchen worth it. 

Health Benefits of Whole Masoor Dal  

When I make Whole Masoor Dal, I know I’m not just preparing a delicious dish; I’m also making a meal that is rich in nutrients and offers numerous health benefits. 

Firstly, let’s discuss the star ingredient: brown lentils, also known as whole masoor dal. Lentils are a rich source of protein, making this dish an excellent choice for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.  

As someone who is always looking to incorporate more plant-based proteins in my diet, Whole Masoor Dal fits the bill perfectly. 

Moreover, lentils are high in dietary fibre. Consuming meals high in fibre helps maintain a healthy digestive system and can assist in weight management by keeping you full for longer. I’ve personally found this useful in curbing unnecessary snacking between meals. 

The health benefits of Whole Masoor Dal don’t stop at the lentils. The spices used in this recipe also have their own health advantages. Turmeric, a key ingredient in this recipe, contains a compound called curcumin, known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

Chili powder, besides adding a spicy kick to the dish, is also known to boost metabolism. Cumin is another essential ingredient that can help with digestion, while coriander powder is noted for its potential anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering benefits. 

Finally, the addition of fresh coriander not only enhances the dish’s flavour but also brings in a dose of vitamins A and C, both essential for a healthy immune system. 

All in all, Whole Masoor Dal is a flavourful, filling, and nutrient-dense dish. Every time I make it, I feel good knowing that I’m giving my body a nourishing and tasty treat. 

Substituting Brown Lentils with Red Lentils in Whole Masoor Dal Recipe  

Being an avid cook, I love to experiment with ingredients and find that the kitchen is my playground. When making Whole Masoor Dal, I have, on occasion, substituted brown lentils with red lentils. 

Brown lentils, or whole masoor dal, hold their shape well when cooked, providing a satisfying texture to the curry. They have a slightly earthier flavour compared to red lentils, which tend to be slightly sweet. 

Red lentils, on the other hand, tend to break down when cooked, resulting in a creamier texture. If you prefer a smoother, more homogenized curry, red lentils could be a great option.  

From a nutritional standpoint, both brown and red lentils are quite similar. They’re both high in protein and fibre, making either choice a healthy one. 

However, there are a few things to keep in mind if you plan on using red lentils. First, they cook faster than brown lentils. This could be an advantage if you’re pressed for time, but it’s important to keep an eye on them to avoid overcooking. 

Secondly, since red lentils have a slightly different flavour profile, the final taste of the dish might vary a little. But don’t let that deter you! The change could bring a delightful new twist to the traditional Whole Masoor Dal recipe. 

While brown lentils are traditionally used in the Whole Masoor Dal recipe, red lentils can make a worthy substitute. As with any recipe, the key is to experiment and discover what works best for your taste buds. 

Adjusting Spice Level in Whole Masoor Dal Recipe  

As someone who appreciates a wide range of flavours, I understand the importance of being able to  

adjust the spice level in a recipe. When it comes to Whole Masoor Dal, there’s plenty of room for customization, especially with regard to heat. 

The spice in this dish primarily comes from chilli powder, which is used in both the lentils and the tadka, or tempering. If you’re like me and enjoy a good kick, then sticking to the original quantities should serve you well. However, if you prefer a milder flavour, there are a few adjustments you can make. 

Firstly, you can reduce the quantity of chilli powder in the recipe. Instead of a full teaspoon, you might opt for half a teaspoon or even less, depending on your tolerance level. Remember, you can always add more spice later, but it’s much harder to remove it once it’s mixed in. 

Secondly, consider the type of chilli powder you’re using. Not all chilli powders are created equal; some are much hotter than others. If you’re unsure about the heat level, I’d suggest starting with a milder variety. 

Lastly, adding dairy can help to counteract the heat. In this recipe, the butter in the tadka could provide some relief from the spice. You might also consider serving the dal with a side of yoghurt or a dollop of cream for additional cooling effects. 

The beauty of home cooking is the freedom to adjust recipes to suit your own personal taste. So whether you like your Whole Masoor Dal mild or spicy, remember that it’s all about creating a meal that you’ll truly enjoy. 

Storing and Shelf Life of Whole Masoor Dal  

After enjoying a delicious meal of Whole Masoor Dal, you might find yourself with leftovers. As someone who loves to make the most out of my cooking efforts, I have some tips on storing this dish for future enjoyment. 

You can store leftover Whole Masoor Dal in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should remain good for about 3 to 4 days. Before reheating, give it a good stir and check for any off-smelling or visible mould, as these could indicate spoilage 

To reheat, you can use a microwave or a stovetop. If using a microwave, make sure to cover the container with a microwave-safe lid or plate to avoid splatters. For stovetop reheating, transfer the dal into a pot and warm it over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

If you want to store it for a longer period, you can freeze the dal. Properly stored, it can last for up to 3 months in the freezer.  

I recommend using freezer-safe containers or heavy-duty freezer bags to prevent freezer burn. When you’re ready to enjoy it, defrost it overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat it as usual. 

One thing to keep in mind is that the texture of the lentils might change slightly after freezing and reheating. They could become a bit softer, but the flavour should remain delightful. 

Whole Masoor Dal is a dish that can be enjoyed fresh and also reheats well, making it a perfect candidate for meal prepping or for those days when you need a quick, nourishing meal. 

Making Whole Masoor Dal in a Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot  

When it comes to cooking, I am always looking for ways to make the process more efficient. With Whole Masoor Dal, you can definitely speed up the cooking time by using a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot. 

Both these appliances work by trapping steam to create pressure, which raises the cooking temperature and consequently reduces cooking time. This is particularly beneficial for lentils, which can take a while to become tender with conventional methods. 

To adapt the Whole Masoor Dal recipe for a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time. I usually cook the lentils and spices with water on high pressure for about 15 minutes.  

After the cooking cycle is complete, I let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure. 

The important step of making the tadka remains the same. You melt the butter in a separate pan, add the chopped garlic, chilli powder, and cumin seeds, and sauté them until they’re fragrant. Once ready, the tadka can be added to the cooked lentils in the pressure cooker or Instant Pot and stirred to combine. 

A small tip: If you’re using an Instant Pot, you can even make the tadka in the same pot using the sauté function. This way, you cut down on the number of dishes you need to wash. 

Making Whole Masoor Dal in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot doesn’t just save time; it also helps intensify the flavours as the high pressure helps the spices infuse better into the lentils.  

If you’re like me and love a good, flavourful dal, then you might find that using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot enhances the taste of this already delightful dish. 

Making Whole Masoor Dal in a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot is a convenient, time-saving method that still delivers the flavourful, comforting meal you love. 

Serving Suggestions for Whole Masoor Dal  

One of the things I love about Whole Masoor Dal is its versatility when it comes to serving. This comforting lentil curry pairs well with a variety of side dishes, allowing you to create a well-rounded meal. 

The traditional and, in my opinion, the best way to enjoy Whole Masoor Dal is with a side of warm, fluffy rice. The delicate grains of rice absorb the flavoursome curry beautifully, creating a meal that is both satisfying and delicious. 

If you want to incorporate some more texture, consider serving your dal with a side of naan or roti. These Indian bread are perfect for scooping up the dal, and the combination of soft bread with the spicy lentil curry is simply delightful. 

Whole Masoor Dal also pairs well with vegetable dishes. I often serve it with a side of sautéed spinach or roasted cauliflower. The fresh, crisp flavours of the vegetables offer a nice contrast to the rich, hearty dal. 

For a complete Indian meal, consider serving your Whole Masoor Dal with a variety of other Indian dishes, such as paneer tikka or aloo gobi. This allows you to enjoy a range of flavours and makes for a more filling meal. 

Lastly, don’t forget to garnish your dal with a handful of freshly chopped coriander. This adds a fresh, herbal note that perfectly complements the deep, spicy flavours of the curry. 

Whether you’re enjoying it simply with rice or as part of a larger meal, Whole Masoor Dal is a versatile dish that pairs beautifully with a variety of accompaniments. 

The Meaning of Tadka in the Whole Masoor Dal Recipe  

If you’re new to Indian cooking, you may be wondering what tadka, an essential component of the Whole Masoor Dal recipe. As a long-time lover of Indian cuisine, I can tell you that tadka is a technique that truly sets Indian food apart. 

Tadka, also known as ‘tempering’, is a cooking method used extensively in Indian cuisine. It involves heating a small amount of ghee or oil, to which spices and aromatics are added and quickly fried.  

This process helps to extract and fully release the flavours of the spices, enhancing the overall taste and aroma of the dish. 

In the context of the Whole Masoor Dal recipe, the tadka is prepared with butter, garlic, chilli powder, and cumin seeds. The butter is melted in a separate pan and the garlic is sautéed until it starts to brown.  

Then, the chilli powder and cumin seeds are added and quickly fried. The heat helps unlock the full potential of these spices, releasing their robust flavours and alluring aroma. 

Once prepared, the tadka is added to the cooked lentils. This infuses the lentils with the flavours of the spices, resulting in a dal that is aromatic and flavourful. 

Apart from enhancing flavour, tadka also adds a delightful visual appeal to the dish. The vivid hues of the spices speckled through the lentils make the dish as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the palate. 

Additionally, from a nutritional standpoint, the fats used in tadka can improve the absorption of certain nutrients in the body. For instance, the fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants found in some spices are better absorbed when consumed with fats. 

Tadka is a quintessential part of Indian cuisine, enriching dishes like Whole Masoor Dal with incredible flavours, aromas, and visual appeal. Next time you cook an Indian dish, I recommend not skipping this important step – the difference it makes is truly remarkable. 

Cultural Significance of Whole Masoor Dal in India  

Lentils hold a place of prominence in Indian cuisine, and Whole Masoor Dal is a prime example of this. As a fan of the rich culinary history of India, I find the cultural significance of Whole Masoor Dal truly fascinating. 

The roots of lentil consumption in India date back thousands of years, with archaeological evidence suggesting that lentils were a staple in the Indian diet as far back as 2500 BC. Lentils, including masoor dal, are an integral part of meals across the country, cutting across regional and cultural differences. 

Whole Masoor Dal, specifically, is a hearty and nourishing dish that is prepared in homes across India. It’s often served as a part of everyday meals and is also a staple during festive occasions.  

The dish’s balance of earthy lentils and aromatic spices encapsulates the philosophy of Indian cuisine, which values a balance of flavours and nutrients. 

Whole Masoor Dal is not just a source of sustenance; it also holds symbolic significance in certain cultural practices. In some communities, it’s considered auspicious and is often included in meals during special occasions and religious ceremonies. 

Moreover, lentils are a source of affordable protein in India, making dishes like Whole Masoor Dal an important component of the diet, especially for the large vegetarian population. 

In essence, the cultural significance of Whole Masoor Dal in India extends beyond its role as a food item. It’s deeply embedded in the country’s culinary history, holds symbolic value in cultural practices, and plays a vital role in dietary sustenance.  

Every time I cook and enjoy Whole Masoor Dal, I feel connected to this rich history and tradition. 

Check Out These Other Recipes

If you loved my Whole Masoor Dal recipe, I’ve got more delectable dishes from the lentil family that are sure to titillate your taste buds! 

Firstly, I want you to explore the Dal Makhani, a North Indian staple dish that I absolutely adore. This is a rich, creamy concoction made from whole black lentils and kidney beans, slowly cooked to perfection. It’s deeply flavourful and an excellent companion to any bread or rice dish. 

Another beauty that I’ve cooked and enjoyed many a time is the Red Lentil Curry. This is a vibrant, hearty curry packed with spices and nutrition. It’s one of those dishes that has the power to convert any non-vegetarian into a lentil lover! 

Then we have Tadka Dal, a simpler yet equally delicious lentil recipe. I love how it is easy to make and can be paired with practically anything. It’s your everyday lentil dish, that you just can’t get enough of. 

The Moong Dal is another favourite of mine! It’s lighter on the stomach compared to other lentils, and yet it never compromises on taste. A bowl of piping hot Moong Dal on a chilly day is my idea of comfort food. 

Lastly, I urge you to try the Lentil Soup. It’s a versatile recipe that can be tweaked according to your preference. Sometimes, I toss in some vegetables and it magically transforms into a wholesome meal! 

I can’t wait for you to try these out! They’re so delicious and easy to make, and I promise they’ll bring a new dimension to your dinner table. Don’t forget to leave your comments, I’d love to hear about your culinary adventures. 

Whole Masoor Dal

Whole Masoor Dal

by Nabeela Kauser
Experience the exquisite flavours of India with our authentic whole masoor dal recipe. Easy to prepare, this hearty and nutritious meal promises a culinary adventure for both novice cooks and seasoned foodies. 
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Servings 4
Calories 161 kcal


  • 200 g Whole Masoor Dal Brown lentils
  • 400 ml Water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 handful Coriander Finely chopped


  • 50 g Butter
  • 3 cloves Garlic Finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 tsp Chilli Powder


  • In a large pan, bring the water to a boil.
  • Rinse the brown lentils thoroughly then add the lentils and spices to the water, and cook for 30 minutes until lentils are tender, on low heat.
  • Allow to simmer until the curry has thickened to your personal preference
  • For the tadka in a separate pan add the butter and allow it to melt completely
  • Add the chopped garlic, chilli powder, and cumin seeds then sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  • Add the tadka to the lentil curry – tadka can also be added upon serving if preferred.
  • Garnish with finely chopped coriander 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: 161kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 5gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 687mgPotassium: 258mgFibre: 5gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 693IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Cheap, Comfort Food, Dal, Food, Healthy, Lentils, Recipe, Vegan, Vegetarian
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Cook with Nabeela

Hi, I'm Nabeela!

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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