Masoor dal – the salmon-pink, hulled lentil – is a quick-cooking dal that needs neither prior soaking nor laborious cooking. My masoor dal tadka recipe rides on the pliability of masoor and has the dish ready to serve in a matter of minutes.
In case you’re wondering, tadka is the process of tempering spices in hot oil and pouring them along with the oil into a dish. I use ghee for tadka in this recipe, I love the body and aroma that ghee adds to the earthy flavor of masoor dal.
Incidentally, masoor dal is said to have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any vegetarian food. Plant-based food items with highest and second-highest protein content are soya bean and hemp.
- Masoor dal (red lentil) – 1 cup
- Onion – 1
- Tomatoes – 2
- Green chili – 1
- Ginger – 1-inch stick
- Asafoetida – 1/2 teaspoon
- Red chili powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
- Dry red chilies – 1
- Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – 1 tablespoon
- Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Ghee – 1 tablespoon
Measure out a cup of masoor dal in a pressure cooker.
Wash the dal in several changes of water till the water runs clear. In the pressure cooker, add to the washed dal 2 cups of water, 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped tomatoes, chopped green chili, crushed ginger, turmeric powder and asafoetida powder.
Lock the lid of the cooker. Cook on high flame till one whisle, then on low flame for another 2 whistles. If not using a pressure cooker, cook in a pan covered till the dal has cooked. I like to cook masoor till the point where the dal is soft and mushes when pressed but the individual lentil grains otherwise retain their shape.
Let the pressure cooker release its steam naturally. Take the lid off, check if the thickness of dal is as you like. In case you want it thinner, add some extra water and bring the dal to a boil again.
Add salt and crushed kasoori methi to the cooked masoor dal. I give the dal a vigorous stir at this stage to blend the boiled pieces of onions and tomatoes, but take care not to pulverise my dal into paste.
Do the tadka:
In a tadka ladle, heat a tablespoon of ghee. When hot, turn the heat to low and add cumin seeds. As soon as cumin seeds splutter, turn off the heat. Immediately add a dry red chili (torn into 4-5 pieces), coriander powder, red chili powder and a teeny-tiny pinch of salt. Stir the ghee so that the masalas get cooked but don’t burn. After 20 seconds, pour the hot spiced ghee into the dal.
Serve immediately. My meal below: masoor dal tadka, crispy plantain and toast [yeah, I was hungry so didn't bother to make chapaties :-)].
I add salt to the tadka as the fried red chili bits in the dal taste delicious with a bit of salty crunch of them. If you are the kind that discards the dried red chilies (and I urge you not to!), you could skip the tadka salting.
If you’re weight-watching, you could reduce the quantity of ghee to half.