Masoor Dal Fry (Red Lentil Soup)

Masoor Dal Fry (Red Lentil Soup) another staple dal from the wonderful Indian Subcontinent and in particular the North of India where such dals are regularly prepared to heat up from the cold.

There are sooo many way that this dal can be cooked, at least as many as there are cooks who prepare it. Some with both onion and garlic, some without; some with few spices and some with a great many. You get my point.

As I have stated before, dal is my husbands favourite food item, to the extent that he ears it likes there’s no tomorrow. I have found that as the combination of spices change, the unique the dal tastes. My pressure cooker helps with adding flavour to this dish. It only takes a couple of whistles and the dal is cooked but the taste on it own is amazing. It’s as if it has been slow cooked for hours and has become caramelised.


This recipe especially has a number of flavours coming together, from the spices added to the olive oil to the onions, garlic and ginger during tempering. Each mouthful is bursting with sweet, spicy, tangy and warm flavours. A typical Punjabi style dal fry. The recipe, although not labour intensive, does require a little dedication and a delicate hand. For this effort you are well rewarded with a soul satisfying bowl of lentil goodness and plenty of smiling face asking for seconds.

I have found that this dal is your typical Indian masoor dal fry found at dhaba’s (roadside open restaurants) across Indian and even Pakistan. Such dhaba’s are open 24 hours a day and a usually found next to petrol stations. They typically serve foods to travellers and truck drivers on long commutes between destinations and as a majority of truck drivers are of Punjabi descent, Punjabi food its extremely common, particularly the heavily spiced foods. These dhaba’s give the food served a ‘home cooked’ feel to it.

Serve with salad, rice and rotli’s.

Masoor Dal Fry (Red Lentil Soup)

Masoor Dal Fry (Red Lentil Soup)

  • Servings: 4-6 serving
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

230g (1 cup) Masoor dal (Red lentils)
2 ½ tablespoons organic olive oil
½ inch cinnamon stick
2 broken dry red chillies
4-5 cloves
1 ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon asafoetida
1 large organic brown onion
3-4 organic cloves of garlic
2 organic teaspoons ginger
1 organic green chilli
3 organic medium tomatoes
2 cups water or as required
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon cumin and coriander powder
1 teaspoon organic fresh lemon juice or according to taste
Salt as per taste requirements
1 tablespoon organic fresh chopped coriander leaves for garnishing


  1. Wash and then soak the masoor dal for 20 minutes in cold water.

  2. Heat 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker and cook for about 12 minutes while you prepare all the other ingredients. Once cooked, turn off and allow cooker to cool naturally. 

  3. Peel and finely chop the onion, garlic and green chilli. Finely grate the ginger and set aside. Finely chop the tomatoes and coriander leaves and set aside.

  4. Check the masoor dal by pressing a few between you fingers. They should be soft and mushy. The dal is ready.

  5. In a large none stick pan add the olive oil and warm slightly.

  6. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves and the dry red chillies. Cover the pan and allow the oil to become aromatic. Ensure the heat level is low so spices do not burn.

  7. Turn up the heat to medium once the oil becomes aromatic from the spices. Once oil heats further, add the cumin seeds and allow them to splutter slightly. Now add the asafoetida.

  8. Add the onions, garlic, garlic and green chilli, mix then cover for 30 seconds. Then sauté while gently stirring uncovered until they turn golden at a medium heat.

  9. Once the onion mixture has turned golden brown, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir well and combine the onion mixture well with the tomatoes and cover to cook until they are soft.

  10. Next, slowly add the massor dal with its water to the tomatoes and gently combine all the ingredients.

  11. Now add all the dry spices; that is the garam masala, turmeric, cumin and coriander powder and lemon juice. Stir spices in gently.

  12. Simmer the dal at a low medium heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

  13. Once cooked take off the heat and garnish with salt as per taste requirement and coriander leaves.

  14. Serve with salad, boiled rice and paratha.

Masoor Dal Fry (Red Lentil Soup)

Best Wishes,

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