Wednesday 26 August 2015

Masoor Daal / Red Lentil Curry.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

On Monday afternoon, I followed my mother round the kitchen.

 Oh, how hard it was.
I'm sure anyone who has even asked their mother for a recipe will understand. My mother is the kind who eyeballs everything. Me? I'm the complete opposite. I am nothing without my trusty digital scales ready to measure everything down to to the exact gram. 
Which made shooting this recipe for a classic masoor daal oh so much fun.

This daal is a comfort food in our house. We cook it quite often, usually when we've eaten too much meat and are craving something simpler. There is nothing not to love about it - it's vegetarian, uses store cupboard ingredients, is quick to make and is well flavoured with butter, ginger and garlic. Whether it's eaten drowned in pieces of chapati or with simply boiled rice, one thing is certain.
It'll hit the spot like nothing else especially when served with a few spicy pickles (achar) - carrot being my all time favourite.
So here you go folks: how my Mother cooks her daal.

Daal, previously: restaurant-style daalquick garlic daal.

A Simple List of Ingredients:

For the Daal:
1. Water
2. Red Lentils
3. Crushed Red Chilli Flakes
4. Salt
5. Ground Turmeric
6. Ground Coriander
7. Garlic

For the Tarka:
1. Vegetable Oil
2. Butter
3. Onion
4. Garlic
5. Ginger

To Finish:
1. Green Chilli
2. Fresh Coriander

Bismillah, let's begin!

First, we will cook the lentils. This recipe uses masoor daal (red lentils) and these are the ones I used - very cheap and available in most shops.

Take 180 grams Red Lentils.

Check through them for any small stones.

Then, rinse under cold water ... 
.. changing the water a few times ..
.. until the water runs clear.

Next, fill a deep pan with 680ml Water. Place over a medium heat.

Add in the lentils.

Next, measure out the spices.

We'll need:
1/2 teaspoon Crushed Red Chilli Flakes
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Ground Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander

Add them to the pan.

Finally, take 3 Garlic Cloves.

Peel them.

Using a pestle and mortar (or carefully with the back of a knife), give them a light bruising.

Throw them into the pan.

Give everything a stir.

And, bring the mixture to a boil.

Once boiling, turn the heat right down and cover with a lid. 

Leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes on the lowest heat until the lentils are tender.

Whilst the lentils simmer, we can make our tarka. A tarka is what makes a lentil curry. It's buttery, fragrant and filled with plenty of garlic and ginger. So gather together your ingredients ...

... along with a pestle and mortar.

Into which can go 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled.

Peel a 1/2 inch piece of Ginger.

Give it a rough chop and add it in too.

Bash together until both are well crushed. Set aside until needed.

Next, take 1 small Onion, peeled and diced.

Now that our ingredients are ready, it's time to make the tarka. Into a frying pan, place 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil over a medium-high heat.

And, 3 tablespoons Butter. You could substitute the butter with more oil or even margarine. Ghee is the more traditional route but we prefer butter. 

Let the butter melt a little ...

.. then go in with the diced onion.

Stir the onion until it begins to soften and turn golden. A tarka happens quite fast and can go from golden to dark brown in a matter of seconds so now is not the time to wander off.

Next, add the crushed ginger and garlic.

Keep stirring until the tarka turns light brown and begins to bubble. It is ready when the butter begins to foam and becomes fragrant.
The smell alone will announce to the entire household that daal is happening tonight!

At this point, uncover the lentils.

Give them a quick stir and place over a medium-low heat.

Grab your tarka and pour it into the lentils.

Don't leave any bits behind - it's all flavour, people!

Once the tarka is in, give it a stir.

We're nearly done now - just a few last minute additions.

First, 1 Green Chilli, thinly sliced.

Add it to the lentils.

Give it a stir.

At this point, take a little daal out in a bowl and have a taste. What do you think? More salt? If so, make your additions.

Finally, in goes a small handful Fresh Coriander, chopped.

A final stir, turn off the heat and we're done!

This daal is delicious with almost anything. At it's simplest, it makes a great soup. Maybe a baguette on the side to dunk?

You could also eat it with boiled rice or it would make a great side dish to any curry night.

Us? This time we cooked a quick pilau rice ..

... along with a jar of spicy carrot pickle and thinly sliced cucumber. It was good.

The classic way in our house to eat daal though is with buttered roti (chapati) - with more pickles obviously.

And for the real comfort food experience, tear the roti into pieces, place in a bowl and drown in daal. Simplicity at it's best.

Full Written Recipe:

Masoor Daal / Red Lentil Curry.

Prep Time: About 10 minutes.
Cook Time: About 15 minutes.
Serves: About 4-6 people.


For the Daal
180 grams Red Lentils
680ml Water
½ teaspoon Crushed Red Chilli Flakes
1 teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Ground Turmeric
½ teaspoon Ground Coriander
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and bruised

For the Tarka
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
3 tablespoons Butter
1 small Onion, peeled and diced
3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and crushed
½ inch Ginger, peeled and crushed

To Finish
1 Green Chilli, finely sliced
Small handful Fresh Coriander, chopped


To make the daal, place the lentils into a bowl. Check through them for small stones. Rinse them under cold water, changing the water a few times, until it runs clear.
Place the water in a deep pan over a medium heat and add the lentils. Add the red chilli, salt, ground turmeric and ground coriander. Finally, throw in the bruised garlic.
Give everything a stir and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat right down and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes until the lentils are tender.

To make the tarka, place the vegetable oil and butter in a frying pan. Add the chopped onion and over a medium-high heat, stir until they soften and turning golden.
Then, add the crushed ginger and garlic. Keep stirring until the tarka turns light brown and bubbling. It is ready when the butter begins to foam and becomes fragrant.

To finish, uncover the lentils. Pour the tarka into the lentil pan. Stir on a medium-low heat. Add the green chilli and taste. Adjust the salt, if needed. When you’re satisfied, stir in the fresh coriander.

To serve, we like to eat the daal with roti (chapati) and spicy pickles (achar) – usually a carrot pickle but sometimes chilli pickle or a mixed pickle. This daal is also delicious with simply boiled rice, a fresh salad and more spicy pickle. This time though, we served it with a simple pilau rice. Enjoy!

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Keep me in your duas please and enjoy your daal,


Spice Enthusiast
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