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Recipe: Masoor Dal (Spiced Red Lentils)

Masoor Dal is easy to make and there is nothing fussy about it. Not only is it healthy due to all the “superfoods,” it is beautiful and fragrant as well.

Masoor Dal

Staying in with a fragrant superfood classic

Last month, I was in Spokane, Washington visiting my daughter who is away at boarding school. Paisley is a vegetarian — a vegan, actually — which makes restaurant selections a bit more challenging. One afternoon, we were wandering around the downtown area and the most delicious smells were wafting down the street. We followed our noses, which led us around the corner to a charming Indian restaurant. It was very cold outside, but the minute we walked in the door, we were immediately warmed by the aroma of turmeric, cumin, and ginger. We chose three menu items and shared them all with warm naan bread. Comfort food, indeed.

This dish, Masoor Dal, was by far our favorite and I spent the next week reading recipes and practicing my own versions of this very traditional dish. This one is easy to make and there is nothing fussy about it. Not only is it healthy due to all the “superfoods” and spices, but it is beautiful and fragrant as well. Terryl Gavre, owner of Cafe 222 and co-owner of Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant; breadandbutterismyjam.com

Masoor Dal (Spiced Red Lentils)


2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup onions, diced
1 cup carrots, small diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled & small diced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 Thai red chili, seeded and minced
1 cup red lentils
1½ Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp yellow curry powder
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp lemon juice
4 cups vegetable stock or water
Salt to taste
Jasmine rice


1. Place oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots to hot oil and sauté until softened, about 5-8 minutes.
2. Add sweet potato and sauté for about 5 minutes.
3. Add minced ginger, garlic, and chili; reduce heat to low. Cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
4. Add lentils and spices. Stir into mixture until everything is well-coated in spices.
5. Add tomatoes and water or vegetable stock. Raise heat to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils and sweet potatoes are soft, about 25 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Add more water if the Masoor Dal is too dry.
6. Allow to cook about 10 more minutes until lentils are creamy (you can speed this up by whisking a few times to break up the lentils and potatoes). If it’s too soupy, turn the heat down to low and allow to cook a few more minutes.
7. Stir in lemon juice. Serve over Jasmine rice.

Masoor Dal
Masoor Dal


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