Masoor Dal

Here is a very quick post on a very exciting dish – well at least I think it is exciting for two reasons:

1. It is one of my favourite comfort dishes when I lived in Singapore

2. I never thought I was ever going to be able to make it

Now I know all my South Asian friends are probably thinking I’m being pretty pathetic – after all Masoor Dal is an every-day dish and nothing to be that excited about, but for me Indian cuisine has always been something mystical, something unattainable with their long list of spices, and ingredients I have never even heard of, let alone can pronounce (asaefoetida??!)

But I found this recipe on a blog called Chai and Yoga ( and for the first time, I realised that I most likely can make it, and surprisingly I have all the ingredients at home…well apart from the asaefoetida…so I thought I would give it a go – and I was really impressed with the outcome – brought me straight back to Singapore. I have yet to explore Chai and Yoga properly – but I am really excited to have found it!

This recipe calls for a pressure cooker, and it says that if you don’t have one you can simmer the dal on the stove in a think bottomed pot until its done. What it neglects to tell you is the length of time – with unsoaked dal, it took me almost 3.5 hours…luckily I am together with a very patient man, who probably is now planning on getting me a pressure cooker!!

Masoor Dal: Serves 6-8 as part of an Indian meal

  • 1 1/2 cup masoor dal, rinsed over three times
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • Pinch of red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 green chilies, chopped in large pieces
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Pinch of asaefoetida (as you can probably guess by now, i left this out)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • Juice of 1 or 2 limes (depending on size)
  • Handful of fresh chopped cilantro
  • Salt as needed

Add dal to the pot of a pressure cooker. Rinse in cold water and drain, repeat a few more times until the water runs clear. Add Water, tomatoes, salt, turmeric and chili powder. Set aside to soak

In a frying pan, heat the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the cumin and mustard sees, stir for 10-15 seconds, then add the chilies and ginger. Stir for another 10-15 seconds, then add the onion. Turn down the heat and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until they become translucent. Add the asaefotida and ground coriander. Remove from the heat and scare all the onions and spices into the pot with the dal and water.

Attach the pressure cooker lid and cook for 7-9 whistles (those with pressure cookers i presume you know what this means?) Remove from the heat and carefully release the pressure and check the dal is cooked. The dal should be tender and the liquid yellow – if the liquid still looks transparent and watery in needs to cook more.

Before serving add the lime juice and fresh coriander.

I served this together with tandoori chicken and rice – and although I have no photo evidence to prove it, you just have to take my word that it was fantastic :)

3 thoughts on “Masoor Dal

  1. Well done Alex!

    When I went away to uni, my mom kept telling me that dal is the easiest thing to cook. I have never once in my life managed to make dal that wasn’t dry and unappetizing. I guess I fail as a good South Asian wife. The man claims he can make dal, but I have no proof. In any case, he should buy me (or himself) a pressure cooker too :)

    Have you ever tried achari dal? It has an achar (South Asian pickle) flavor, and is my absolute favorite dal.

    1. Ha ha – why am i not suprised that you have never made dal?! :) you know the next time I’m home in Singapore we should make your mum give us a cooking lesson…

      But in the meantime our men can get us pressure cookers so we are prepared! :) Miss you babe – write to me and let me know how it all is goimg? XXXX

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