Lentils are a common staple in South Asian cuisine.  Lentils are legumes with protein, minerals and fiber. In addition to being packed with nutrition they are an inexpensive pantry must have. Most lentil recipes don’t take long to make, that’s why I usually have lentils on our menu weekly. They can also be paired with veggies or meat. I usually add a bunch of spinach for a nutrient punch for the kids. But the options are endless and these are also vegan and gluten free. This lentil curry can be paired with rice, naan, chapati and paratha.

There are many different variety of lentils. The recipe I am sharing today is Brown Lentil curry also know as Whole Masoor dal. This is the same reddish/orangish split lentil that is just whole with skin.  This variety of lentils is very common and can be easily found in grocery stores. This is a great recipe to try if you are a beginner at South Asian cuisine or new to cooking altogether.

This lentil recipe is really very straight forward. Even if you have never made these before, I encourage you to try.

Brown Lentils/Whole Masoor Dal

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 cup brown lentils rinsed/soaked (check for any debris before soaking)
  • 1 small/medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 large tomato (chopped)
  • 1 green chili chopped (I use serrano these are not hot but give freshness to the dish)
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced/grated)
  • 1/3 cup oil (I use light olive oil)


  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 1/2-1 tsp. red chili powder (adjust per preference)
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp. salt. adjust per preference
  • Fresh chopped cilantro. Few tbsp. for garnish


  • Pick the lentils for any debris than soak overnight or few hrs.
  • Use a heavy bottom pan. Heat oil on medium
  • Add onions, saute til golden brown
  • Add green chili, cumin seeds and garlic. Saute til garlic not raw anymore, 5-10seconds
  • Add tomatoes and all powdered spices saute this mixture til oil separtes from mixture and tomatoes cook down a little. If sticking to pan just add a little water. About 7 minutes.
  • Add lentils plus 6 cups of water that lentils were soaked in.
  • Keep stove medium, pot covered and cook for about 35-40 minutes.
  • Lentils should be soft. You can mash some lentils with a spoon at the sides of the pan. This makes it creamier and comes together nicely.


I do soak these overnight or at least few hours before, that saves cooking time. Some recipes call for boiling the lentils before, than adding to rest of ingredients. But I like to cook all the ingredients together, that makes it more creamy and thick rather than watery.
Before rinsing and soaking the lentils: put lentils in a flat plate and go thru and make sure there are no large pieces of any sort of debris. Sometimes I will find a tiny rock, that can happen in bulk ingredients. Doesn't happen often but just check in chase.
The consistency of the lentils will be your preference. I make it a medium consistency. But once the lentils are fully cooked you can add a little more water to make it thin.
Another thing to keep in mind is cooking time may vary. That can depend on the variety of brown lentil and how old it is. I have seen packs that are lighter/darker in color and size varies too with different brands. But don't be afraid to add more water as needed.
Author: Shazia
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: South Asian Pakistani/Indian


Write A Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.