This Masoor ki Daal is one of my top 5 foods. True Story. Want to hear another true story? Mama Jafri the formidable lady who brought me and my four other siblings into this world is a helluva cook. I don’t know how she does it – really I don’t, but that’s largely because she somehow manages to give me only half the ingredients in a recipe. Apparently if I want the full list then I should say something like “Mama, what should I put in it if I want it to be delicious?” She seems to think the standard assumption is that I am aiming for mediocrity. Fun Fact: My Nani did the same thing. Fortunately for us all I don't!
Anyway, I digress, back to Mama J and her amazing cooking. She is not one for rules, more of the creative sort and to this day I have no idea when or where she got this particular recipe for daal (lentils) from, but this Masoor ki Daal has become a family favourite and it is what I make on the days when I am feeling homesick. On some of those days it tastes exactly like moms.
This daal is characterized by an over the top tanginess which is a result of the double whammy of tomato paste and lemon. The garlic in it also adds a wonderful rich note. The best part is that it actually keeps very well, if anything it gets tastier.
Tomatoes in Daal?
Some of you may balk at the ingredients in this daal. Rest assured that if you are not into tomatoes in your daal then you can omit them. However, if you have never tried it then I suggest you do just once. Just remember that the magic of the daal happens after you pour on that sizzly goodness known as the baghaar.
Note: this daal recipe is one of the oldest on my blog and I had shared a fairly unattractive but useful step by step below which I know many of you found useful. If you want to skip that and go straight to the printable Masoor ki Daal recipe then you can do so by clicking below.Jump to the shorter and printable Masoor ki Daal Recipe
Red Lentils (Masoor Daal)
1 cup Masoor Daal
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
2 cloves garlic crushed
⅓ cup diced Onion
2-3 tablespoons Tomato Paste
½ cup Cilantro
3-4 green chillies
Juice of one lemon
For Tempering/the Baghaar:-
¼ cup vegetable oil
3-4 dried whole red chillies
1 tsp Cumin seeds
3-4 Garlic cloves sliced
½ tsp onion seeds/ nigella/ kalonji (optional)
Can also add: 1 sprig of curry leaves
Okay so this is daal, pretty simple, no stress. Especially now that we all know what the ingredients are (sheesh Mom!). So run your daal through a couple of changes of water to get rid of that white bubbly stuff. There’s a technical term for it – will figure it out one day. Then soak it for half an hour – makes the cooking a snap. Wash it through for a few more times and then we are a go.
Put in three cups of water and bring the lentils to a boil along with the onions, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and crushed garlic. Please note that we are holding off on the tomato paste. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a lid and check on it in 20 minutes. When the daal is tender and cooked through then add the tomato paste, start with 2 if you want a milder tomato taste. Puree the daal with your blender of choice or if you chop the onions finely then you can skip this step entirely. Now taste. Need more salt? Add it. Could do with more chilli powder? Now is the time. Once you make the necessary adjustments turn the heat down to the lowest setting and add in your chopped cilantro.
The green chillies should also go in now, but put those in according to your spice tolerance. Want to make it kid friendly? Skip them entirely. If you are a pansy like me then put a few in whole; it will not make it that spicy, but will give it a lovely aroma. Feeling more adventurous? Slice 2 or 3 lengthwise and drop them in. Spice and you are besties? Finally slice 4.
Also don’t worry if it doesn’t taste too exciting just yet, the final bit of abracadabra has yet to happen and it changes everything.
So here goes: heat your oil in a frying pan, when it gets nice and hot then drop in the whole red chillies, cumin seeds, garlic slices, onion seeds, and curry leaves (if using). It will spatter so be careful, this is not the time to lean forward and poke at things. You may or may not end up minor burns. That may or may not have happened to me before. Once the garlic is golden brown pour the lovely mix in the pan over the lentils and shut the lid. Try not to freak out when you are pouring the baghaar in and stuff starts splattering all over, it means things are going well. Really. Turn the stove off, it is time to eat.
Daal is usually eating with plain boiled rice, you can eat it with roti or naan, and if you are like me and obsessed with yogurt/raita then you may have it over rice, but with a generous amount of yogurt/raita over top.
Masoor ki Daal
For the Daal
- 1 cup Masoor Daal (red lentils)
- 1.5-2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 cloves Crushed Garlic
- ⅓ cup diced onion
- 2-3 tbsp Tomato Paste
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 3-4 Green Chilies For optimum heat slice them thinly, for medium cut into halves and for less leave them whole.
- Lemon Juice according to taste
- ¼ cup neutral oil
- 3-4 dried whole red chilies
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 3-4 cloves garlic - sliced
- ½ tsp Kalonji / Nigella Seeds (optional)
- 1 sprig Curry Leaves
- Bring the daal to a boil with along with the, garlic, onion, and spices with 3-3.5 cups of water till tender. I recommend starting with 1 tsp of salt.
- Add the tomato paste and whisk energetically or use an immersion blender to make a smoothish daal
- Now turn off the heat and add the Cilantro, Green Chillies and Lemon Juice. Stir and adjust seasoning.
- Heat oil in a small frying pan - you can use less if you prefer
- Add the remaining ingredients, be careful!
- When the garlic cloves turn a golden brown colour pour them over the daal. You can simmer on low for a minute or two at this point if you want.
Are you a daal fiend like me? If so then I have quite the collection going. Just click here! Happy Daal-ing friends.
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