Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sabit Masoor Dal (Lentils)

Made with Sabit Masoor Dal (lentils), commonly called in my home as ‘Kaali Dal’, is simple and very tasty. It makes a great accompaniment for plain boiled rice and a vegetable. The high protein content in lentils makes them an excellent meat substitute.

  • 1 cup Whole Masoor Dal (Lentils)
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 medium tomato cut into cubes
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2-3 green chilies chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger grated
  • 1 tsp garlic grated
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 tbsp melted ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 tbsp ghee for seasoning
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch of asafetida powder
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp ginger juliennes to garnish
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • Thoroughly wash the Whole Masoor and put into a pressure cooker. Add 4 cups of water to it. Add chopped garlic, chopped green chilies, 1 tbsp of cooking oil and turmeric powder to it. Stir well.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and set on high flame. After the first pressure release, reduce the flame to simmer and cook for one more pressure release. Turn off the flame and open the pressure cooker when it is cool.
  • Stir the boiled lentils carefully.
  • In a small pan heat 3 tbsp ghee; add bay leaf and cumin seeds; fry till spluttering stops. Add the chopped onion and fry until golden.
  • Now add chopped tomatoes, chopped ginger, red chili powder and salt. Fry until ghee starts to separate from masala.
  • Mix this masala to boiled masoor dal and stir well, if dal is too thick, add some warm water and stir until the consistency is right.
  • Mix lemon juice and some chopped cilantro leaves to it.
  • Garnish with remaining chopped cilantro, ginger juliennes and seasoning.
  • Prepare seasoning to garnish dal: Heat one tbsp ghee on a medium flame, in a small pan until hot. Now turn off the fire and add the asafetida powder and a pinch of red chili powder. Pour immediately over dal mix.
  • Serve with roti or plain boiled rice.


  • Cooking time of dal depends on the variety and age of dal. Older lentils will take longer to cook because they have lost more moisture.
  • When using a pressure cooker to cook lentils, add a teaspoon of oil to keep the scum from blocking the safety valve.
  • Acidic ingredients such as tamarind juice or dry mango powder or tomatoes can lengthen cooking time. You may wish to add these ingredients after the lentils have become tender.

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