Kali Masoor Ki Dal

As we are progressing through the week, I can only express my gratitude towards how much thought the staff at our school has put behind this entire virtual learning thing. I was quite overwhelmed on first day, and even though I consider myself quite technologically sound,I had a fair amount of doubt switching among multiple portals and galloping through so many google classrooms. Its mid week and I feel much better. We might be able to do this after all!

I needed my mid week comfort today. So one of my favorite, kali masoor ki daal happened.These are basically skin on whole red lentils,they are full of fiber and are super duper delicious. I often compare  dal preparation in Indian homes to the roasted chicken in the west. It is such a simple thing to make, comforting at the same time and each cook has it own recipe which without a doubt is delicious.

I make this dal very differently from the way I grew up eating. I like this recipe more than my family’s, something I worked on for a few years to get right. I don’t like this dal mushy or watery. More of a slurry like consistency, compare it to something you can ladle on your plate directly. The lentils should be holding shape, yet they should be soft, best way to ensure even cooking is to use fresh lentils which are not lying around for more than 2-3 months in your pantry . I temper this dal twice. It is so hearty and delicious that you dont need a side with it. Just some rotis and papad will do. Read the recipe below 🙂

Ingredients(Serves 3-4)

To boil the daal

  • 1.5 cup kali masoor dal(whole skin on red lentils)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ghee

First tempering

  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or use ghee)
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 3/4 cup chopped onions
  • 2 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1/2 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 – 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp amchoor(or lemon juice, adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste

Second tempering

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder

Cilantro to garnish


Clean and wash the lentils under running water 2-3 times.Place the washed lentils in a pressure cooker, add 2.5 cups water and soak the lentils for 30 mins. Once soaked, add the whole spices (bay leaf, black cardamom and cinnamon), add ghee and pressure cook the dal for 2-4 whistles on high pressure. Let pressure release naturally, open the cooker lid, test a few grains of dal (they should be holding shape), press between your fingers, they should be really soft. Mix (not mash) the dal while still warm gently using back of a spoon for 30-40 seconds, it will be thick and creamy. Set aside.

While the dal is cooking, start making the first tempering. Add mustard oil to a shallow wide pan (I use my 12 inch) and let heat up till you see ripples on surface and its smoky (if using ghee, just warm it up).Temper with dried chilies and add onions, cook for for 7-8 mins on medium heat until onions start turning dark brown. Add the ginger garlic next and saute for 30 seconds. Then add the tomatoes and purée , sprinkle a little salt, add the red chilli powder and black pepper, cook everything for 5-8 minutes until the tomatoes are mushy and the oil starts separating. Add the pressure cooked dal. Mix it nicely with the onion tomato base and add a little water (about 1/2 cup or less/more) depending on the consistency you desire. Cover the pan, let come of to a slow boil and then let simmer for 15-20 minutes on low.

Once the dal has simmered, pick out and discard all the whole spices. Add the amchoor, cumin powder and garam masala and mix nicely. Let simmer while you make the second tempering. Simply warm up the ghee and crackle cumin seeds in it. Add the red chilli powder and immediately add it on top of the daal. Switch off the stove. Mix everything. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.


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