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South-Indian Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings 6


  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 2 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1/8 tsp asaofetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2-3 thai green chiles split lengthwise (3 can be quite hot)
  • 1/2 cup diced tomato fresh or canned


  • Rinse lentils and bring to a boil with 5 cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes, or until very soft.  Stir in salt and turmeric.
  • Place oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When shimmering hot, sprinkle asafoetida (if using) over the oil, then add the mustard seeds and curry leaves.  As soon as the mustard seeds pop and the curry leaves turn a shade darker, reduce heat to low and stir in the ginger and chiles. Fry for about 15 seconds, then add the tomatoes.  Give it a stir, then stir it into the cooked lentils, oil and all.  Taste and add more salt if needed (I added an extra 1/2 tsp).