This simple dal recipe is flavor packed and easy to make. Red Masoor Dal is made with red curry paste, ginger, garlic and red lentils. It’s an easy weeknight meal and is freezer friendly! This spicy red lentils recipe is adapted from Rakhee Yadav’s beautiful new book Heavenly Vegan Dals & Curries. | This recipe is vegan, vegetarian and gluten free.
I received a copy of Heavenly Vegan Dals and Curries and am so excited to be sharing this slightly adapted, flavorful recipe with you!
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When I first embraced a vegetarian lifestyle it didn’t take long to discover Indian and Asian flavors. Trying new cooking methods and ingredients opened a world of spices that helped support my new way of eating. I was absolutely blown away by the bold flavors of spices and ingredients used like in this spicy red lentils recipe, I couldn’t believe they’d gone unnoticed for so long.
To support my aspiration in cooking delicious international cuisine at home, years ago I started following food bloggers and chefs on Instagram. Rakhee @BoxOfSpice was one of the first people I connected with. Her beautiful photography and food drew me in. So, naturally when she published her first cookbook, I was anxious to get my hands on it to learn more and cook from the pages of her book.
About Heavenly Vegan Dals and Curries
Written and photographed by Rakhee Yadav, Heavenly Vegan Dals and Curries is a feast for the senses. Veggie and spice packed recipes create temptations at every turn. Her book is divided into these sections:
- Quick and Easy Meatless Wonders
- Enticing Vegan Power Bowls
- Nice and Slow Plant Based Delights
- Wholesome Snacking
Each recipe is supported by Rakhee’s beautiful photography and easy to read guidance.
Ingredients for Red Masoor Dal
This simple dal recipe is made mostly with pantry staples. For such a short ingredient list, it delivers big on flavor. Rakhee explains this Masoor Dal marries two cultures as if the union had always existed where Indian and Asian flavors come together in one sublime bite. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
- Coconut Oil
- Ground Cumin or Cumin Seeds
- Red Onion
- Red Pepper Flakes or Red Chilis
- Fresh Garlic – lots of it (!!)
- Fresh Ginger
- Red Curry Paste
- Chili Powder
I subbed a few spices from whole to ground because that’s what I typically keep on hand and I love the results. Look for red lentils in the bulk bins for best price.
Quick Guide: How to Make Masoor Dal
The most time you’ll spend on this spicy red lentil recipe is peeling, grating and slicing the garlic. There’s quite a bit of garlic in this recipe, but its pungency is balanced by red curry paste and ginger.
PRO TIP: For the grated ginger, there’s no need to peel it. I put it right on my microplane and grate it up! The papery skin is thin, grates up beautifully and goes undetected.
In summary, here’s how to make this simple dal recipe:
- First, in a large saute’ pan, add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and saute’, then stir in the cumin, chili, garlic and ginger. Reduce heat and stir, cooking for just a few minutes.
- Second, stir in the red curry paste until fragrant.
- Next, deglaze the pan with water and stir in the lentils. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes. Remove lid and simmer a little longer then remove from heat and let set about 5 minutes, lid off, to thicken further.
- Last, for tempering, heat coconut oil in a sauce pan. Add cumin (seeds or ground), garlic and chili powder. Cook on med-high heat for just about a minute, stirring until the garlic is golden. Remove from heat and quickly spoon over the lentils.
Spoon the spicy red lentils over rice and garnish with lime, cilantro and green chilis. Naan is also fabulous with this recipe!
In her book, Rahkee suggests cooking the lentils in a separate pot first, then adding them to the onions/spice mixture. I followed this method the first time I made this recipe, but then tried cooking the lentils in the same pan as the onion mixture because it meant one less pot to clean. I found cooking the lentils and onions/spices together works beautifully and didn’t impact the final texture or flavor of the dish.
As noted in the recipe, use whole cumin seeds or ground cumin.
A Few Recipe Notes
- About Tempering: this masoor dal recipe calls for tempering, a technique where whole or ground spices are heated in hot oil then spooned over the dish. Tempering is an extra step but well worth the effort due to the over the top flavor it offers. If reducing oil in your diet, opt for a sprinkle or dollop of coconut cream, from a can of full fat coconut milk.
- Freezer Friendly? Yes please! Simply transfer the Red Masoor Dal to individual covered container, allow to cool completely and freeze for up to two weeks.
- Serve with rice, I like jasmine, and Rahkee suggests, with sliced cucumbers. Share with plenty of cilantro, lime and small chilis for those who love extra heat.
- Look for red lentils in the bulk bins for best price.
More International Inspired Recipes to Love
- Thai Ginger Garlic Noodle Bowls
- Speedy Miso Mushroom Ramen Bowls
- Chana Dal with Cauliflower and Coconut Milk
- Cauliflower Potato Red Lentil Curry
- Thai Peanut Noodle Salad
- Thai Red Curry with Eggplant and Sweet Peppers
Red Curry Masoor Dal (Spicy Red Lentils)
- 1 Tbs Coconut Oil
- 1 C (150g) Red Onion diced small, about 1 medium onion
- 1 1/4 tsp Ground Cumin or 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp Red Chili Flakes or 1 red chili chopped fine. leave out for less spicy.
- 1 Tbs (heaped) Fresh Garlic grated, about 4 medium garlic cloves
- 1 Tbs (heaped) Fresh Ginger grated, about a 1" (2.5cm) piece
- 3 Tbs Prepared Red Curry Paste
- 1 C (192g) Red Lentils rinsed through a fine mesh strainer (aka Masoor Dal)
- 3 C (710g) Water
- 3/4 tsp Fine Sea Salt
- Lime Wedges
- Jasmine Rice
- Small Green Chilis like serrano (sliced thin)
- Sliced Cucumbers
- In a large saute' pan, add the coconut oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onions and saute' on medium heat for about 3 minutes, or just until slightly softened. Stir in the cumin, red pepper flakes (or chili) if using, garlic and ginger. Reduce heat to medium low and stir, cooking for 2-3 minutes or until the raw smell of garlic and ginger is gone. The garlic and ginger will begin to stick to the pan.
- Stir in the red curry paste to coat the onions - about 1 minute. To the onion/spice mixture, pour in the water and stir in the lentils, breaking up any lentils that may have stuck together from rinsing. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, put a lid on the pan and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until the lentils are soft.Remove lid and simmer for an about 4-6 minutes. Add the salt. The spicy lentils will begin to thicken as they cook further. Remove the pan from heat and let set about 3-5 minutes, with the lid on, slightly ajar. The mixture will continue to thicken as it sets. Depending on the consistency you prefer, share while still a little loose or serve the spicy lentils after they thicken a bit. A splash of water will loosen things up a bit if the lentils dry out too far. Add a squeeze of lime and stir.
- Heat coconut oil in a small sauce pan and heat until shimmering. Add cumin (seeds or ground), garlic and chili powder. Cook on med-high heat for just about a minute, stirring or until the garlic is just golden. Remove from heat and quickly spoon the tempering over the lentils and stir it in OR after spooning the lentils into individual bowls, dollop the tempering over the top of the lentils.
- Spoon the spicy red lentils over rice and garnish with lime, cilantro and green chilis. Naan is also fabulous with this recipe!
- Freeze in individual serving containers for meal prep or in a large container. Thaw in the fridge over night and gently reheat on stovetop. Add a splash of water to loosen the lentils when reheating.