Kiran's Cooking Club

Everyday Indian Food

Spicy Red Lentils – a little ray of sunshine on a winters day

With a good dusting of snow outside this weekend, I’m in need of some comfort food… a little bit of colour to bring some warmth to the unwelcome winter revival. A bowl of hot and spicy red lentils should do the trick.

Daal is the Hindi word for any type of lentil. The small red variety are a larder staple around the world. They’re actually known as Masoor daal in Hindi. In my house they’re known as “orange daal” because my kids never really learnt the proper Indian names!)

In restaurants you’ll sometimes see all kinds of daal listed as “tarka daal”. Tarka just means “seasoning”, with a basic paste made from onion, ginger and garlic in this case.

Spicy red lentils are very much an everyday Indian food. They’re nutritious, and quick and easy too. Give it a go – I promise you’ll never think of lentils as bland hippie food ever again!

There’s a little video too to help you out here, and you can also find the recipe in full below. Stay warm..

get ready:

1 cup red lentils (masoor daal)
1 small onion, chopped
1 inch fresh root ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 chilli, sliced whole (optional)
1 tomato, chopped

juice of half lemon
2 Tbs olive oil Or 1/4 tsp ghee


1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp
turmeric powder
1 heaped tsp coriander powder
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 – 1 tsp chilli powder
1 – 2 tsp salt

Fresh coriander (small hand-full chopped)

special kitchen things:
a pot with fitted lid
a small trying pan
a flat mixing spoon

Now what?

1. Wash, peel and chop onion, ginger and garlic.

2. Wash lentils (repeat roughly three times until the water is clear) to remove the starch.

3. Add three cups water to daal, with 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp ghee or oil, and 1 tsp salt. Mix and bring to the boil on a high heat, with the lid off the pot. You’ll see a frothy build up which you want to bring to the top of the pot.

Before it boils over – turn the heat down to a slow simmer and put the lid on the pot. The daal will take around 10-15 minutes to cook and mix into a soupy consistency. Keep it on the back burner while you make the “tarka”.

4. Tarka: in a hot frying pan, heat 2 tsp ghee or oil (no smoking oil). Throw in cumin seeds and let them sizzle and brown.

5. Add onions, ginger and garlic and cook slowly till lightly golden brown.

6. Add all remaining spices to the frying pan, mix and the add a little water and tomato. You want to get a “paste like consistency so cook slowly and mash up tomatoes as they soften. (approx 10 minutes). You know when it’s ready when the ghee/oil separates from the tarka mix.

7. When daal looks cooked too, simply add the tarka to the pot and give it a good mix. Cook for a few minutes, add a squeeze of lemon, garnish with fresh coriander and eat. If the daal looks too thick – just add a little hot water.

8. Serve while it’s hot with bread, naan bread or chappaties.

15 comments on “Spicy Red Lentils – a little ray of sunshine on a winters day

  1. frugalfeeding
    February 6, 2012

    Awesome! I absolutely adore red lentils – they are one of my favourite ingredients. This soup look utterly delicious and fantastically warming.

  2. leogini
    August 31, 2012

    Yummy! Love lentils! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Pingback: Squishing Squashes – Fenugreek and Coriander Marrow « Kiran's Cooking Club

  4. nurulthecook
    September 18, 2012

    A little different than how we make dal at home. Will give this a try!

  5. Linnell
    September 19, 2012

    I could almost smell the spices as I watched your video! I have a bag of red lentils in my pantry, so I’m definitely going to try this recipe!

    • Kiran
      September 19, 2012

      Thank you so much – hope you enjoy it.

  6. nancywelker
    September 27, 2012

    I love lentils! This is a great blog post – thank you so much!

  7. petit4chocolatier
    October 20, 2012

    The soup looks delicious!

  8. screenshot
    October 26, 2012

    Reblogged this on Ready For Anything Preparedness Store and commented:
    You can find more great dried bean and legume recipes, plus other delicious cooking ideas at Kiran’s Cooking Club:

  9. agonyandecstacy
    October 27, 2012

    Hi Kiran, I just tried this dal and it turned out perfect! It’s a lovely recipe for an unaccomplished cook such as myself to dazzle her mother!

    • Kiran
      October 27, 2012

      That’s so fantastic to hear! thank you for sharing that. Hope your Mother is suitably dazzled 🙂

  10. fortyjarsfull
    November 7, 2012

    That looks just yum, will most certainly be giving it a go , think my angels will love it , they love lentils !

  11. wordpressreport
    November 15, 2012

    Reblogged this on WordPress Report and commented:
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