A weekly must have meal prep dish that will for sure become your favorite. This recipe is easy, delicious, nutritious and versatile. These lentils are cooked with some basic spices and finished off with oil that has been infused with whole spices and aromatics. This technique is called tadka with means tempering.

Masoor dal is red lentils, the word dal translates to lentils. Lentils are a huge part of South Asian cuisine. They make great quick meal options and also vegetarian options. If you have never made lentils before or want to learn making south Asian food, lentils are the easiest to start with.

This recipe is such a comfort food, growing up my mom made it all the time. It’s definitely kid approved, my kids enjoy it with rice, chapati or naan. I added spinach to this recipe but you can definitely make it without it. For kids I do variations like adding kale/spinach, peas, carrots or broccoli.

Enjoy with cumin rice, chapati/roti, another lentil dish brown lentil curry


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 -5


  • 1 cup lentils picked thru & rinsed (optional - Soak for 20 minutes)
  • 1 small tomato (diced)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. salt (adjust to taste)
  • 2 cups baby spinach (chopped)
  • 5 cups water (may add more as needed)


  • 3 1/2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (sliced)
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried fenugreek
  • fresh cilantro (chopped for garnish)


  • Use a heavy bottom pan, add lentils, tomato, onion, all powder spices & 5 cups of water. bring to boil than to simmer partially covered.
  • When the lentils are done they will no longer hold their shape. The tomatoes/onions will have cooked down. And the lentils and water will come together rather separated, you will start to see a thick boil, about 25-30 minutes. Add more or less water depending on how you like the consistency.
  • Add the spinach towards end of cooking time. If you want the spinach to cook down more than add spinach with rest of ingredients.
  • If water has evaporated than add little more.
  • In a small frying pan heat the oil on low, add garlic sauté till golden brown.
  • Add cumin seeds & curry leaf, be careful the leaf's will splatter. Let it sauté for few seconds.
  • Add dry fenugreek. Add this to the cooked lentils carefully because it will splatter.
  • Be careful not to burn these tempering ingredients. Taste dal adjust salt as needed.
  • Garnish with cilantro.


Make sure you have picked thru the lentils, sometimes there can be some debris.
Wash the lentils well. If you have time soak for about 20 minutes or longer. If I am short of time I rinse them as boiling any white foam that floats to the top I skim off.
Tempering is a very important cooking technique in South Asian cuisine. It brings amazing flavor to many dishes. If this step is skipped the lentil dish may just taste boiled.
At the grocery store they are called red lentils or masoor dal.
Enjoy with cumin rice, chapati/roti, another lentil dish brown lentil curry.
Author: Shazia
Course: Main



  1. Hi Shazia

    I hope you and your family are well.

    I’m hoping to try this recipe but I think some of the steps may be missing. Could you please tell me at what point you add the ground spices?

    Many thanks

    • Shazia Reply

      Hello Anika,
      Omg my apologies, looks like there was some error at the back end. I fixed it. Sorry for the inconvenience

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