Masoor Dal

Serves     Yield: 3 quarts


4 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
4 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic, peeled
½ small habañero pepper, seeded (use more if desired)
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
¼ cup grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 quarts vegetable stock
4 cups split red lentils, rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can of coconut milk
Juice of 1 lemon
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


Add whole coriander and cumin seeds to a dry skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown and highly fragrant. Let cool. Grind toasted seeds in a spice grinder (or mortar and pestle) until fine. Place in a small bowl and mix in the ground turmeric. Set aside.

Place onion, garlic, habañero pepper, and ginger into the bowl of a food processor and process into a paste. Set aside.

Heat the grapeseed oil in a large, heavy pot. Add the onion paste mixture and sauté until very fragrant and the moisture has evaporated, approximately 10 minutes.

Add the ground spice mixture, tomato paste, and kosher salt to the pot and mix everything together well. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the vegetable stock and split red lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook until lentils are soft and falling apart, approximately 30 minutes.

Stir in coconut milk and lemon juice and remove from heat. Garnish each serving with chopped fresh cilantro.


Notes and Instructions

Cooking tips/notes: Dal is a staple all over India. The word “dal” refers to both a large group of legumes and lentils (red, yellow, black, brown), as well as the dish that’s made with them. They’re often split, which significantly reduces their cooking time. Split yellow lentils would also work very well in this recipe.

Recipe and photo credit: Traci Barr