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Masoor Daal—Spicy Red Lentils

By Siri Ved Kaur

Yield: 6-8 servings

The rich flavor of this spicy daal takes me straight to rural Punjab in India, where we enjoyed it with fresh off-the-fire chapattis, homemade yogurt, and achar (mixed spicy pickle).

You may use other beans such as brown lentils or moong daal (split and washed/skinned mung beans). For special occasions add a quarter cup of cream at the completion of cooking.

2 cups red lentils (masoor daal)

2 quarts water

3-4 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger (cut in 1/2-inch matchsticks)

1 rounded teaspoon ground cumin

1 rounded teaspoon ground coriander

¼ cup ghee or oil

1 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1-2 whole dry red chili peppers (more if desired)


4 tablespoons minced cilantro

1 tablespoon ghee

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Wash and drain lentils and set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a 4-quart pot.

Add lentils and boil for 15 minutes.

Add chopped ginger, ground cumin, and coriander. Then lower heat to medium and simmer until lentils are very soft (about 30 minutes).

Heat ¼ cup ghee in a small frying pan. Add turmeric, cayenne, mustard seeds, and red chiles.

When mustard seeds stop popping remove from heat and add to cooking lentils.

Cook until beans are extremely soft and flavors are blended. The consistency should be quite soupy, so add water as needed.

When it's time to serve, transfer daal to a serving container. Stir in half of the minced cilantro. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a small frying pan over a high flame. Add cumin seeds and fry about 1 minute, until they pop and emit a toasty aroma. Pour this on top of the daal (do not stir).

Garnish with remaining cilantro. Add a sprinkling of cayenne and serve.

© 2015 Siri-Ved Kaur Khalsa

This recipe can be found in From Vegetables, With Love by Siri Ved Kaur.

Siri Ved Kaur has been a part of the 3HO/Sikh Dharma community in Los Angeles since 1971. She has authored two cookbooks (Conscious Cookery, 1978 and From Vegetables with Love, 1989) and written numerous columns for Beads of Truth, Aquarian Times, YogaMint, and HealthWorld Online. Mother of three grown daughters, she now resides in Bakersfield, California with her husband, Gurujodha Singh.