Whole Masoor Dal

7 Min Read

Known as Indian brown lentils, Whole Masoor Dal is the perfect easy dinner for a weeknight. Ready in under 30 minutes, this lentil curry is comforting and creamy with mild spice but full of rich flavor.

Masoor dal in a bowl

This Whole Masoor Dal recipe is so simple to assemble in the Instant Pot. Great for a family dinner or easy entertaining, this brown lentil curry will become a staple vegetarian recipe in your routine. The creamy and tender lentils take on all of the warming flavors of Kashmiri chili powder, coriander, and turmeric.

Love easy Instant Pot meals? Try my Green Mung Dal and Rajma Masala recipes. They are in repeat in my kitchen and are a good source of plant-based proteins.

What is Whole Masoor Dal?

Whole Masoor Dal uses whole lentils that still have the skin which makes them brown or greenish in color. Split lentil masoor dal are red, orange, or pink lentils that have had the husk removed. One of the many lentils and beans used in Indian Cooking, I masoor dal is one of the few beans that does not need soaking and cooks relatively faster.

This lentil dal is high in protein, completely vegetarian, and also gluten-free. Garnish the dal with cilantro and serve over rice for a complete meal. It is fantastic also served with roti, paratha, as well as beet raita for cooling and soothing flavors.

Ingredients for Brown Lentil Dal

ingredients to make masoor dal ingredients to make masoor dal
  • Ghee – known as liquid gold, this is clarified butter that is used as a main cooking fat in Indian cuisine. It’s so easy to make homemade ghee.
  • Cumin seeds – whole cumin seeds rather than ground cumin give a nutty, warming flavor that is slightly sweet.
  • Yellow onion – a base aromatic vegetable for the dal.
  • Plum tomato – adds a hint of sweet tomato flavor to the dal sauce.
  • Ginger and garlic paste – aromatic ingredients that form the foundation of Indian cooking. Both ingredients add a kick of fresh flavor. Ginger paste and garlic paste are easy to make homemade.
  • Whole masoor – also known as brown or green lentils. These lentils still have their husk which qualifies them as being whole.
  • Coriander & turmeric – warming spices that add both a sweetness to the dal as well as an earthiness in flavor.
  • Kashmiri red chili powder –  adds a beautiful red color and chili flavor with some heat to the dal.
  • Cilantro – a fresh herb that adds spicy and citrus flavors perfect for brightening the warm, rich flavors of the lentils.

How to Make Whole Masoor Dal

  • Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and heat ghee or oil. Add cumin seeds and cook until they start to sizzle about 30 seconds.
  • Add onion, tomato, ginger, and garlic and saute for 2 to 3 minutes or until the tomatoes start to soften. You can use a non-locking lid to cover the pot to speed up cooking.
  • Add turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, and salt. Mix well.
  • Add the masoor, water and give a quick stir. Close the Instant Pot lid with the pressure release valve to sealing and pressure cook for 10 minutes followed by 10 minute natural pressure release.
  • Open the pot and stir in the jaggery. Add more water to bring the dal to the desired consistency.
  • Cook on saute mode until the dal comes to a gentle boil. Garnish with cilantro.


Serve the Dal with white rice or brown rice that can be made easily in the Instant Pot.

I also love to serve masoor dal with hot roti or paratha for the most delicious combination of flavors. Pair it with a beet raita for an earthy but cooling flavor.

How to Store

Store the Whole Masoor Dal in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. This is a great meal prep meal to make a few days in advance before eating as the flavors get richer as it sits.

You can freeze the red lentils as well in an airtight container for up to two months. Thaw the lentils at room temperature for a couple of hours or in the fridge overnight. Reheat the lentils on the stove in a pot over medium heat until fully warmed through.


  • Be sure to toast the spices – toasting spices in the ghee for a few seconds enhances their flavor and helps to develop rich flavors in the recipe.
  • Soak the whole Masoor – you can soak the whole masoor overnight in water or for 3 to 4 hours to cut down on cooking time. If you soak, drain the water and discard. Pressure cook the recipe for 6 minutes total.
  • Don’t add too much extra water – the lentils may look too thin when you first finish cooking them, but they will also thicken as it cools.
  • If you don’t have Kashmiri chili powder, use a combination of smoked or sweet paprika with a pinch of cayenne.
  • Add some heat – to make a spicier curry, add 1 to 2 chopped green chilies in addition to the ginger and garlic.
  • Make it vegan – use a neutral oil instead of ghee for cooking the recipe.

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