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Masoor Ki Dhal (Split Red Lentils)


So there are lots and lots of different lentils, and to confuse matters you can mix these for a more complex tasting dhal. I don’t want to blow your mind so will keep it very simple and pure. The main dhal I had growing up was masoor ki dhal. This is a split red lentil and widely available at supermarkets.

The other version was whole red lentils that can also be called brown lentils (how confusing I know!); same lentil except the whole lentil retains the outer shell and therefore contains more fibre. Whole lentils will also maintain their shape during cooking, whereas split lentils will break up.  Try making this dish both ways – split and whole – as they taste very different, but are utterly delicious either way and SO good for you.


  • 2 cups of lentils
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped
  • x3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2-3 green finger chillies, slit in half lengthways
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 and a half tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 150ml passata
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • vegetable oil for cooking
  • knob of butter
Prep Time:
45mins-1 hour
Cooking Time:
10-15 minutes
Cook’s Tip:

You can do a 'double tarka' on leftover dhal. This should be with a 'rustic' tarka, slice the onions half moon, use fresh tomatoes and crank up the chillies. You can also use the leftover dhal to make parathas. Make chapatti dough using dhal in lieu of water.

Serving Suggestion:

Serve with freshly cooked chapattis or parathas (or rice if you prefer), along with a side salad kissed with lemon juice and sea salt, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt. This is also complimented by the green chutney & pickles.


1. You may need to sort through and discard any hardened kernels. Then rinse and soak the lentils as per packet instructions.

2. Take a big wide lidded saucepan. The most time consuming part of this dish is to cook and boil the lentils! Using a sieve drain the lentils and place in your pan along with the fresh water (allow 3 cups of water per cup of lentil roughly). Bring to the boil, then simmer as per instructions or until cooked & tender. Ensure the saucepan does not run dry, and remove any scum/foam that may form. Set aside.

3. Let’s make the ‘tarka’. Take a medium-large frying pan, saute the onions and cumin in 2-3  tablespoons of vegetable oil on a moderate heat until the onions become translucent and soft.

4. Next add the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook out for a couple of minutes.

5. Now add the garam masala, turmeric and salt, and toast off for 30 seconds. If the pan is too dry add a splash of water so the spices don’t stick to the pan and burn. Allow the spices to cook out for a minute.

6. Then pour in the passata. Increase the hob heat, and bring to a simmer. Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. When you can see the oil has separated on the surface of  the tarka, it’s ready to taste. Check your seasoning here and adjust to taste.

7. Ladle some of the cooked lentils into your frying pan, as much as you can, and mix together with the tarka. Then transfer all of the contents into the lentil saucepan, and place this on the hob to bring to a simmer. Check the seasoning again, you may need more salt – remember lentils are bland & need to be brought to life! Finish by melting a generous knob of butter through the dhal.

8. Finally scatter with a flurry of chopped coriander leaves.