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masoor dal or red lentils curry served in a ceramic bowl with a spoon
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Masoor Dal Recipe- Easy Red Lentils Curry

Masoor dal or quick and easy red lentil curry in less than 30 minutes. This lentils curry is super quick to make, delicious, hearty & also budget friendly. Vegan and gluten free.
Masoor dal or red lentil is the most commonly used lentil in Indian cooking. It is less expensive compared to other lentils, yields more and also has the highest protein content.
This delicious, healthy and flavorful red lentil curry is super easy to make in both stovetop & instant pot. Serve with rice, ghee and a vegetable dish for a hearty comforting meal. See serving suggestions for more ideas.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Masoor Dal, Red lentils curry
Servings: 3
Calories: 245kcal
Author: Harini


For cooking masoor dal

  • 3/4 cup red lentils dhuli masoor dal
  • 1 onion large, cubed
  • 2 tomatoes large, cubed
  • 1 green chili slit
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt to taste

To Temper Dal

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped or whole
  • 3 dried red chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder


Cooking Lentils

  • Add the rinsed lentils to a pressure cooker base. Also add tomatoes, chopped onions, slit green chilli and chopped ginger.
    rinsed masoor dal, chopped vegetables in a pressure cooker
  • Add 2.5 cups water.
    water added to lentils & vegetables
  • Add salt to taste, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon red chili powder.
    Mix well and close the pressure cooker.
    Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or 10 minutes in medium heat
    salt, turmeric and red chiili powder added to lentils
  • Once the pressure is released check for the doneness of the dal. Well cooked soft dal can be mashed easily.
    cooked lentils
  • Gently mash the cooked masoor dal. If you like a very smooth buttery dal, you can mash it very well. We like a slightly coarse texture, so I mash it slightly. Simmer the dal again for 5-6 minutes,
    mashed lentils
  • Now taste the cooked dal and add more salt if required. Also add 1/2 or 3/4 cup water to get the desired consistency. While the masoor dal is simmering, we will make the tadka.
    simmering masoor dal

Tempering Masoor Dal

  • Heat oil in a small pan. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, chopped garlic and fry for few seconds.
    frying cumin seeds and garlic
  • Now add 8-10 curry leaves, 3 dried red chilies and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala.
    frying red chilies & curry leaves
  • Fry for a minute.
    making tadka for masoor dal
  • Add this tadka along with oil to the simmering dal. Mix well.
    adding tadka to cooked masoor dal
  • Finally add cilantro leaves and mix well. Remove from flame. Add lemon juice and mix well. Serve masoor dal warm with rice or roti.
    making red lentils curry recipe


Instant Pot Method

Prepare the lentils & vegetables as mentioned above.
Place the steel insert or inner vessel inside the instant pot and switch it on. Press saute button and once it displays hot, add 1 tablespoon oil.
Add cumin seeds, chopped ginger and garlic, curry leaves, dried red chilies and slit green chillies. Saute well until the spices turn aromatic.
Add chopped onions and saute until they turn a bit soft. Add tomatoes and saute well. Next add the rinsed lentils and mix. Add 2.25 cups water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil.
Cancel saute, close the instant pot and pressure pressure cooking or manual mode. Set timer for 10 minutes to cook lentils. Set pressure valve to seal.
Once the instant pot beeps, let pressure settle down on it own for 5 minutes and then release the remaining pressure gently.
Press saute again and add 3/4 cup to 1 cup water as required for desired consistency.
Add cilantro leaves and mix well, switch off the IP. Add lemon juice, mix well and serve hot.

Stovetop Method

Masoor dal being one of the quick cooking lentils, they cooker faster in a pot on stovetop too. Here are the instructions for making absolutely delicious red lentils curry on stove top.
Bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil in a heavy pan or large pot with lid. Add rinsed lentils, chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger and green chillies.
Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Once the lentils are well cooked, mash and add water as required. Continue to simmer.
Prepare tadka as mentioned above and add to the cooked lentils.
Mix well, add cilantro leaves and remove from flame. Add lemon juice or lime juice and mix well.


Serving: 3servings | Calories: 245kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 71mg | Potassium: 720mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1059IU | Vitamin C: 99mg | Calcium: 71mg | Iron: 4mg