Masoor Dal | Whole Brown Lentil Curry

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Masoor dal curry is popularly known as sabut masoor ki dal / masoor chi usal or whole brown lentil curry. This is a healthy, vegan, protein-rich, diabetic-friendly, fibre-rich, and beginner-friendly recipe that is often made for a quick weekday lunch or dinner.

Dal or dhal is an essential part of the Indian main course. Made with lentils either whole or split, dal is considered a comfort food that is served along with steamed rice, roti, chapati, or naan.

Making sabut masoor dal (whole brown lentil curry) is simple, easy and quick. Made with basic pantry staples, this dal takes hardly 20 to 30 mins to cook.

Enhanced with earthy aromatic spices and herbs like turmeric, coriander powder, cumin seeds, ginger & garlic make this dal is absolutely delicious and super healthy.

This curry is rich in dietary fibre and protein, making it the best source of protein for a plant-based diet.

In India, this recipe varies from state to state. In the northern parts, it is made in onion tomato-based gravy and in the south, you will find it made in coconut-based gravy.

We often make this sabut masoor ki dal for our weeknight dinners along with rice. This is a flavourful, light, filling and totally satisfying curry. This brown lentil curry has a wonderfully creamy texture without even the addition of cream or coconut milk.

I personally love this curry with hot steamed basmati rice along with pappadum and homemade pickles. That is what a bowl full of comfort food looks like to me! This curry also goes well with jeera rice & vegetable khichdi.

This curry can be easily made in an Instant pot or on a stovetop. I have shared both the instant pot and stovetop methods today.

The best part of this sabut masoor dal (whole brown lentil) is that it holds its shape while cooking which makes it quite appealing to the eyes and helps retain its natural vitamins and minerals.

Including legumes & pulses in everyday meals is a great way of including proteins when on a plant-based diet to get your daily intake of necessary nutrients.

Unlike other pulses, this curry always turns out to be creamy and thick in consistency. Hence you need to adjust the consistency as per your preference.

There are two ways in which the lentils are cooked. One is to rinse it under the water and directly cook it. The other one is to soak this dal for about 5-6 hours in the water ahead of cooking. I normally soak this lentil which helps them cook faster and avoid bloating.

The recipe which I am sharing here today is cooked in spicy and flavourful onion-tomato-based masala. Sometimes we made this sabut masoor dal curry with coconut milk too. If you want to know that recipe does let me know in the comments I would love to share that too.

Also, check out these legume recipes of chana masala (black chickpea curry) & chavali usal / amti (black eye bean curry).


Sabut Masoor Dal (Whole Brown Lentils): I soaked the masoor dal (brown lentils) in water for about 5-6 hours in the morning to make the curry for dinner.

When I want to make this curry for lunch, I soak this dal on the previous night for approximately 8-9 hours. Soaking dal helps in cooking these legumes faster and avoids unnecessary bloating too.

Onion & Tomato: Indian curries are incomplete without an onion tomato base. They impart a nice flavour to the dish and give a nice texture to the dish. I have used finely chopped onions here and have pureed tomatoes in a blender to a fine paste. You may cut tomatoes finely too instead of making puree.

Spices & Herbs: Spices such as garam masala, turmeric powder, and coriander powder are added to this curry along with earthy herbs like coarsely crushed ginger, garlic & green chilled which enhance the taste of this dish.

Seasonings: I have added a teaspoon of sugar here to balance the taste of curry and normal table salt to taste.

Water: To cook & adjust the consistency of the curry.

Oil: For tempering.

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Chavali Usal – Black-Eyed Bean Curry

Vegan Recipes

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Food FAQ’s

Let’s see how to make Sabut Masoor Dal Curry (Whole Brown Lentil Curry) with basic staple ingredients in your home kitchen.

Serves: 2 Persons
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Cooking level: Easy
Taste: Spicy & Flavourful

  • 1 cup Whole brown lentils (sabut masoor dal)
  • 1 large Onion finely chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes – pureed in a blender
  • 3 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 inch Ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
  • 1/4th teaspoon Hing
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 2 teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Goda Masala Powder ( you can omit this if not available)
  • 1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro / Coriander leaves to garnish
  • Water to cook
  • 1 tablespoon Oil for tempering
  • Now before we start making this sabut masoor dal (whole brown lentil curry), we need to do some beforehand preparation of soaking this lentil in water overnight or at least for 4-5 hours.
  • If you want to make this curry for lunch, soak this dal on the previous night for approximately 8-9 hours and if making it for dinner you can soak the lentils in the morning for about 5-6 hours. (Soaking dal / lentil is not compulsory, you may just rinse the dal / lentils under water and cook them directly)
  • Once soaked, drain the water and rinse the sabut masoor dal (whole brown lentil curry) under running tap water and keep it aside.
  • Let’s coarsely crush ginger, garlic and green chilles. I have used mortar-pestle to make the paste.
  • In a Kadai / saucepan heat oil. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 15 seconds.
  • Add hing (Asafoetida) and finely chopped onions. Saute the onions till they are translucent. No need to completely cook them.

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  • Let’s add crushed ginger-garlic-green chilli paste to this onion and saute till the raw smell goes away.
  • Now add the tomato puree. I have used fresh tomatoes. You may use canned tomatoes or storebought tomato puree as well. Mix well and cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Now add turmeric powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, red chilli powder & goda masala (optional). Mix well so that the spices get nicely incorporated into the onion-tomato mixture.

You may also check out these delicious recipes: Chana Masala – Black Chickpea Curry, Chavali Usal – Black-Eyed Bean Curry, Vegan Recipes, Curry Recipes, Diabetic Friendly Recipes, Maharashtrian Recipes.

  • Add the cooked masoor dal / brown lentil along with salt and sugar.
  • Add 2 cups of water to cook the dal/curry (adjust the water as per the consistency you require).
  • Cover the pan with a lid and let the lentils cook for about 15-20 minutes till tender. Stir occasionally.
  • Sabut Masoor ki Dal (Whole brown lentil curry) is ready.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and squeeze lemon over it. Serve hot with flatbread or rice.
  • Start instant pot on saute mode. Once hot, add oil & mustard seeds. Let the mustard seeds crackle. Now add cumin seeds and saute for 15 seconds til cumin changes it colour to light brown.
  • Add hing (Asafoetida), turmeric powder and finely chopped onions. Saute the onions till they are translucent. Add the crushed ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
  • Now add the tomato puree. I have used fresh tomatoes. You may use canned tomatoes or storebought tomato puree as well. Mix well and cook for about 2 minutes.
  • Now add coriander powder, garam masala powder, red chilli powder & goda masala (optional). Mix well so that the spices get incorporated well into the onion-tomato base.
  • Add the masoor dal / brown lentil along with salt and sugar mix well.
  • Add 2 cups of water and stir well.
  • Close the instant pot with the lid with the valve in the sealing position.
  • Press the manual or pressure cook mode on high pressure for 12-13 minutes.
  • Once the instant pot beep, let the pressure release naturally.
  • Open the pot and add finely chopped cilantro / coriander leaves and mix well.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice, roti, naan or paratha.


I have used tomato puree in this recipe. You may add finely chopped tomatoes or canned tomatoes too.

You can add Kasuri methi ie dried fenugreek leaves or powder to enhance the taste if you like. I normally do not add but on a special occasion, I include Kasuri methi which goes well with naan or tandoori paratha.

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