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Authentic Masoor Dal

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes


  • 2 to matoes
  • 1 onion
  • 1 inch fresh ginger
  • ½ inch fresh turmeric
  • 6 cloves garlic divided
  • 2 birds eye chilies
  • 1 1/2 cups red split lentils
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 cups water divided
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 lime
  • cilantro


  1. Dice the tomatoes and chop the onion, ginger, turmeric, and garlic. Cut one of bird's eye chilies in half and remove the seeds and set it aside. Remove the stem from the other one before slicing it thinly.
  2. Rinse the lentils under cool water until the water runs clear.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. As the butter simmers, foam will form on of the clear middle part of the melted butter. Skim it off and discard it. There will be another thick layer at the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat.
  4. Strain the clear portion of the ghee into a container, making sure to leave the thick layer at the bottom in the pan to discard after.
  5. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of ghee into medium sized soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, ginger, turmeric, one cinnamon stick, and the seedless chili pepper. Stirring frequently, cook the flavor base 3-4 minutes. Remove the chili if desired.
  6. Add the lentils to the pot and stir well to combine with the onion and spice mixture. Pour in the water and stir again. Cover the lentils with a lid ajar, reduce the heat to medium-low, and bring it to a simmer. Let the lentils cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if it becomes too thick while it cooks down. Season with the salt when it’s creamy but not too thick and turn off the heat.
  7. In a saute pan over medium heat, add another 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add in the garlic, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom, fennel seeds, sliced chili pepper, and coriander seeds. Stir them together and let them cook for about 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the tomatoes and the cumin, and black pepper. Allow them to cook another 5 minutes. Cut the lime in half and squeeze it into the tempered spices and tomatoes.
  9. Scrape the tomato spice mixture into the cooked lentils and stir well to season the dal. Remove any chunks of ginger, turmeric, and the cinnamon sticks.
  10. Spoon the dal into bowls and add fresh cilantro, lime and chili slices to garnish