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!

This Time One Year Ago:

This Time Two Years Ago:

Keep me in your duas please and enjoy your daal,


Spice Enthusiast


  1. I love this post! I didn't know you could get carrot pickle, I am the one in the household who picks out all the carrots from the mixed pickles - will now be on the hunt for carrot pickle.

    I might surprise my mum and give this one a go. I eyeball things too but it doesn't always work out - but I am determined practise will make perfect

    Tanzina | Makeup A to Z |

    1. thank you so much for your kind words! and, I was exactly the same. I would hunt the carrots in the mixed pickle too until one day, my dad got the separate carrot one. needless to say, I was in absolute heaven. you must try it. I really hope you enjoy our recipe and surprise your mother with it. good luck!

  2. Salam, I am a algerian woman, and i like your recipes very much, thank you for sharing!

    1. Wasalaam Fatima! Jazakillah khair for your lovely comment and I'm so glad you enjoy my recipes. :)

  3. Just tried to make Daal your way after years and years of doing it my own way and oh my, it's delicious. Thank you! Your butternut squash and chickpea and your keema are on the stove right now too. It's been a lovely afternoon with you!

    1. Hi Fiona! Thank you so much for leaving such lovely feedback. I'm so glad you enjoyed the daal - it's the way my mother has been cooking it for years. Hope you enjoy the other two curries too - you've been very busy! :)

  4. Great recipe! I just made it and it turned out just like mum's!

    p.s. I substituted some water to mutton stock (the leftover stock I used from your Lamb Pulao which was also a great recipe!) and it was really flavourful

    1. So glad you enjoyed the daal and pulao! Love your addition of mutton stock! :)

  5. Thanks for this simple yet delicious recipe which has become one of my favorite dishes. With just a little adaptation I'm about to prepare as part of a vegan Thanksgiving feast in New York!

    1. Sp glad you enjoyed the daal. Hope it went down well at your Thanksgiving! :)

  6. Hi I did everything you said and it didn't look or smell like curry , then I added 3 teaspoons of medium curry powder and a teaspoonful of garam masala , it turned out really good . I'm not sure if I was meant to since it doesn't mention curry powder or garam masala , but if it should be in it , it would be good to know the proper amounts :) .Take care and thank you for the recipe .

    1. Normally, I don't add curry powder or garam masala to my daal. But glad you did and enjoyed it!

  7. Sister
    You have made me a cook.
    I could not cook now I'm making pakora dal Pakistani scrambled eggs
    Only thing is I'm telling everyone it's all my idea
    Sorry sister gots to be done

    Kids loving this lockdown going

    1. So glad my recipes have helped you and don't worry, your secret is safe with me!

  8. Is there any way to scale this down to like 2 servings? I live alone and can't make that much food as I don't have enough room in my fridge/freezer :(

  9. Salaam I made this today and me and the family really enjoyed it thank you for your time and effort jzk Sis xx


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