Masoor Dal Fry (Spiced Lentil Soup)

Dal (daal or dhal) is one of the most versatile, healthy, filing, and delicious meals. Dal translates to pulses (dried legumes that include beans, lentils, and peas), but when referred to in the context of food it means a spiced Indian lentil soup. Dal can be made thick or thin, with any kind of lentil. It can be made with cream and butter, or with simple tempering of spices. When it comes to Indian cooking, dal is staple food which is made on daily basis. It is nourishing, inexpensive, healthy, protein-rich, and most important, harmoniously balanced when infused with herbs and spices.

My both parents are amazing cooks and in fact, growing up I loved Dal, mainly because of my parents. They made so many varieties of dal using different types of lentils. You won’t believe but there are so many varieties when it comes to dal that you could make a different dal every day and not repeat for months. Hot yummy delicious dal served basmati rice or roti, it is the best thing in the world! Now that I am far away from there, I really do miss it very much!

As you all know by now, I love experimenting with food. As Dal is made daily in the house, we have to get creative because it does get boring eating the same type of dal every day. Today I am sharing with you my favorite Dal fry recipe. Compared to regular Dal tadka, Dal fry is slightly different in texture and taste. Dal fry is usually thicker and bolder in taste compared to regular Dal tadka which is thin and slightly mild when it comes to spices. I make this Dal fry on weekly basis because it is loved by everyone in the home. This recipe is very easy to follow and quick to make, and you will have finger licking goodness on the table in less than 25 minutes.  I guarantee you will find yourself coming back for bowl after bowl of Dal fry. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and make this today for dinner!

Serves 4

[Per serving Calories 200, Fat 5g, Carbs 30g, Fiber 15g, Protein 17g]


2 cups of dal masoor dal (red lentils)

6 cups of water

2 cups of tomatoes, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

8-10 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp ginger, finely grated

1 tbsp ghee & 2 tsp of oil – for tampering

2 green chilies, finely chopped

2 tsp of red chili powder adjust based on your comfort level

½ tsp garam masala

1 tsp coriander powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp lime juice

Salt to taste

Finely chopped cilantro for garnishing


Prep all the ingredients prior cooking such as chop all the veggies and wash the masoor dal. This recipe can be made on stove top or in instant pot.

Instant pot – Heat the instant pot in sauté mode and add ghee/oil to it. Once hot, add cumin seeds, green chilies, onion, ginger, garlic. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Then add tomatoes and spices. Stir thoroughly and sauté for another 3-4 minutes. Add the washed lentils and water. Then turn instant pot on pressure cook for 5 minutes at high pressure. Make sure to seal the vent. Once instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally. If you are in hurry, you can also release pressure manually after 5-7 minutes. Open the pot, add the lime juice and stir the dal. Garnish with cilantro and serve with roti, naan or rice or as a soup.

Benefit of cooking this in instant pot is that you can multitask and cook the rice together. All you need to do is follow the recipe for the dal. Once you add all the ingredients and water, place a trivet. On top of the trivet you can place steel or oven safe bowl (Pyrex) with rice and water on the trivet. The cooking time for white basmati rice is similar to the cooking time for masoor dal, hence you can have your main course ready under 25 minutes!

Stove top – Pressure cook lentils separately in pressure cooker or boil them in water for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. While the lentils are cooking heat a pan over medium heat and add ghee/oil to it. Once hot, add cumin seeds, green chilies, onion, ginger, garlic. Sauté for 4-5 minutes and then add tomatoes and spices. Cook for another 5 minutes, you should see oil start separating little bit. Add the pressure-cooked lentils to the mixture. Mix well and let it simmer over low heat for another 5-7 minutes. Turn off the stove, add the lime juice and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve with roti, naan or rice!

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