Simple Masoor Dal: Red Lentil Soup

When I started cooking I did not know what different spices were used to temper the otherwise simple to make ‘Dal’. ‘Dal’ is a term we broadly use to describe Indian soups made using different lentils and legumes. Lentils have been popularly dubbed as ‘powerhouse of nutrition’ and is a staple item that is served with lunch every day with rice at a typical Bengali household. And every time I came back to the USA after spending some time in Kolkata, I invariably forget which spice goes with each Dal. Sometimes we do underestimate the simplest of things. It is often the simplest of things that leave us stumped. So I have decided to document the different spices & tempering for different kind of Dal in my blog, however simple it might be! Whenever I am short of time, I make this quick Dal with red lentils or Masoor Dal and a simple tarka (tempering) of jeera (cumin seeds). The cumin seeds impart a smoky flavor. I use a pressure cooker (which is a common equipment in most Indian household) to make all my Dal.


  • Red Lentil/Masoor Dal – 1/2 Cup (washed and drained)
  • Cumin Seeds – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Green Chili – 1 or 2, slit
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida/Hing – a fat pinch (skip if you don’t like it)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water – 2.5 to 3 Cups
  • Mustard oil – 1 tsp (use sunflower or canola if you don’t have mustard oil)
Red Lentil Masoor Dal
Directly in the pressure cooker, heat up the oil and temper it with cumin seeds, hing (optional) and green chilies. Once the cumin seeds starts spluttering, add the well drained red lentil. Stir till the oil coats the lentil and fry for a minute or two. Add water, turmeric powder and salt and pressure cook till you hear at least 4 whistles. 
We eat it with either chapati/roti or rice. 

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