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13 March 2020

This masoor dal recipe (red lentil curry) is a curry lover’s dream, with nutty red lentils, hearty potatoes and lots of curry seasoning. Huge on flavor. So easy to spice it up!

We’re making red lentil curry tonight in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen, my friends. Would you care for a bowl? We’re in love with curries in general. As spicy food lovers, both of us can greatly appreciate the amount of flavor all those wonderful spices and seasonings bring to a seemingly simple pot of soup.

Patty and I were perusing a local Indian grocery store near us when I spotted this bag of masoor dal, which translates to “red lentils” in English.

It practically leaped off of the shelf into my basket. So Masoor Dal Curry it is! Have you ever had it?

Masoor Dal, or Red Lentil Curry, is huge on flavor. I like to add in a lot of spices, with both curry powder and a red curry paste, but you can easily dial that back if you need to.

Also, this is my vegetarian version with a focus on the slightly sweet and nutty red lentils, along with potato which is a great filler, though you can very easily customize the recipe to your own personal tastes with other ingredients like squash, sweet potato or chickpeas.

Let’s talk about we make masoor dal, or red lentil curry, shall we?

Spicy Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) in a bowl

Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) Ingredients

  • THE FLAVOR BUILDERS
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or use coconut oil)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (use bell pepper for milder heat)
  • 1 large potato, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • THE SEASONINGS
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (or more to taste!)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • THE SAUCE AND LENTILS
  • 14 ounces chopped tomato (or use chopped fresh tomato)
  • 2 cups water (or more as needed – or use vegetable broth)
  • 14 ounces coconut milk (1 can – use fat free for a lighter meal)
  • 1 cup red lentils (masoor dal) – Be sure to rinse the lentils, and sift through them to remove any debris or stones
  • FOR SERVING: Cooked rice or cauliflower rice for a lower calorie version, fresh chopped herbs, spicy chili flakes, sliced peppers

Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) in a bowl with lots of garnish

How to Make Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) – the Recipe Method

First, heat the oil in a large pot to medium heat. Vegetable oil or olive oil are fine, though you can use coconut milk for a bit of extra flavor. Try it with chili oil as well for some extra spiciness. Or use a combination.

Add the onion, peppers and potato. Stir and cook them down 5 minutes to soften. You can easily add in extra potato at this stage to stretch the dish for additional servings. See the Recipe Tips & Notes for other ingredient options. I love potato here, or sweet potato but it’s also delicious with butternut squash.

Add the ginger and garlic and stir. Cook for 1 minute, until you can smell that gorgeous garlic. One of my favorite smells.

Add the curry paste, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, chili flakes, mustard seeds, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring. This will develop the flavors a bit. I obviously use a lot of seasonings here. You can dial it back if you’d like.

Add the chopped tomato, water, coconut milk and red lentils. Stir. These ingredients will form the rich and amazing curry sauce. It is SO good.

Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) in a pot, simmering

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes to 30 minutes, or until the lentils soften and all of the flavors combine. The cooking time can vary a bit, depending on the amount of lentils and potato you’re using.

If the curry is too thick, add in a bit more water. Simmering is essential for flavor building. You can simmer longer if you’d like. Just make sure it doesn’t reduce too much. Simmering longer will develop even more flavor.

Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) in a pot, ready to serve

Serve with steamed white rice or cauliflower rice for a lower calorie version, and garnish! Brown rice is good, too. Try it with my chilli pickle recipe, too!

Boom! Done! Such an easy recipe, isn’t it? It’s quite hearty and flavorful, while being quite healthy at the same time. I love this recipe.

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Heat Factor. Mild-Medium. You’ll get some big flavor here, but not a whole lot of heat. You can very easily spice things up with hotter peppers, such as a serrano pepper or habanero pepper or other spicy red peppers. Or, use spicy chili flakes, chili powder, or your favorite spicy curry seasoning blend, like vindaloo curry powder.
  • The Seasonings. I like to use a lot of seasoning, as you’ll find with most of my recipes. I use both a homemade red curry paste and my own homemade curry powder blend, along with a few other seasonings to round things out. If you’re concerned about too much seasoning, use only the curry paste or the powder along with cayenne, mustard seeds, salt and pepper.
  • Scale It Up. This recipe can easily accommodate double the potato and lentils. Just be sure to add in enough liquid for the lentils and potatoes to absorb. Great for serving a crowd.
  • Variations. I make this with potato, as potato is nice and filling and it absorbs all that wonderful curry flavor. It’s also great with sweet potato or butternut squash. Try it with chickpeas or other beans. You can also make a non-vegetarian version with chicken, beef, pork or seafood, like shrimp, white fish or salmon.

Just don’t forget the naan bread! You can sop up all that wonderful curry sauce. HUGE on flavor.

Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) in a bowl

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy my Masoor Dal recipe. Red Lentil Curry in the house! It’s definitely a quick and easy dinner option for busy weeknights, or whenever you have a hankering for curry.

Don’t forget to spice it up! Enjoy. Let me know how it turns out for you. Such a great recipe.

Try Some of My Other Popular Curry Recipes

Masoor Dal (Red Lentil Curry) in a bowl, ready to serve

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Masoor Dal Recipe - Red Lentil Curry
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5 from 3 votes

Red Lentil Curry Recipe

This masoor dal recipe (red lentil curry) is a curry lover's dream, with nutty red lentils, hearty potatoes and lots of curry seasoning. Huge on flavor. So easy to spice it up!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian
Keyword: curry, lentils, spicy, vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 476kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil or use coconut oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers chopped (use bell pepper for milder heat)
  • 1 large potato chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes or more to taste!
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 14 ounces chopped tomato or use chopped fresh tomato
  • 2 cups water or more as needed – or use vegetable broth
  • 14 ounces coconut milk 1 can
  • 1 cup red lentils masoor dal

FOR SERVING: Cooked rice, fresh chopped herbs, spicy chili flakes, sliced peppers

    Instructions

    • Heat the oil in a large pot to medium heat.
    • Add the onion, peppers and potato. Stir and cook them down 5 minutes to soften.
    • Add the ginger and garlic and stir. Cook for 1 minute, until you can smell that gorgeous garlic.
    • Add the curry paste, curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, chili flakes, mustard seeds, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
    • Add the chopped tomato, water, coconut milk and red lentils. Stir.
    • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the lentils soften and all of the flavors combine. If the curry is too thick, add in a bit more water.
    • Serve with rice and garnish!

    Video

    Notes

    • Heat Factor. Mild-Medium. You'll get some big flavor here, but not a whole lot of heat. You can very easily spice things up with hotter peppers, such as a serrano pepper or habanero pepper or other spicy red peppers. Or, use spicy chili flakes, chili powder, or your favorite spicy curry seasoning blend, like vindaloo curry powder.
    • The Seasonings. I like to use a lot of seasoning, as you'll find with most of my recipes. I use both a homemade red curry paste and my own homemade curry powder blend, along with a few other seasonings to round things out. If you're concerned about too much seasoning, use only the curry paste or the powder along with cayenne, mustard seeds, salt and pepper.
    • Scale It Up. This recipe can easily accommodate double the potato and lentils. Just be sure to add in enough liquid for the lentils and potatoes to absorb. Great for serving a crowd.
    • Variations. I make this with potato, as potato is nice and filling and it absorbs all that wonderful curry flavor. It's also great with sweet potato or butternut squash. Try it with chickpeas or other beans. You can also make a non-vegetarian version with chicken, beef, pork or seafood, like shrimp, white fish or salmon.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 476kcal | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 22g | Sodium: 181mg | Potassium: 1180mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1761IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 11mg
     
    Masoor Dal - Red Lentil Curry
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