Brown Lentil Daal / Sabut Masoor Daal

One of my goals for this year, in terms of blogging, was to share more traditional Pakistani fare and to share more of what we eat on a regular basis.  I have always had a hard time photographing Desi (hailing from the South Asian Subcontinent) food, and I guess I’ve allowed it to be the reason why I didn’t share much of it.  It’s funny because we eat more Desi food than any other cuisine at home, but this little virtual space doesn’t reflect that.  I hope to change that in the coming months.

As for the recipe I am sharing today, Daal translates to lentils, and there are literally hundreds of variations of soupy curries that can be made with these humble pulses.  This Daal is one that I make on a weekly basis.  It screams comfort and is homely.  It’s simple, filling, nutritious, and delicious. It’s great piled on rice, with some yogurt and sliced onions on the side.  Consider it Desi comfort food 🙂



Sabut Masoor Daal

Yield: 4 Servings


Note: measurements are in actual measuring spoons/cups and not eating utensils.

  • 4 – 6 cups water
  • 1 cup brown lentils/ sabut masoor daal
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Handful mint leave, chopped, optional


In a large vessel, combine water, lentils, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, and red chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until lentils are softened and water has significantly evaporated, about 45 to 60 minutes. Be sure to check on daal often, stirring and adding extra water as needed.

Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to pulse daal to desired consistency. Add salt and keep covered.

Warm oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and cook, while stirring often, until they start to show signs of browning. Add cumin seeds and cook until the onions are golden brown. Pour oil and onion mixture (tempering) over the daal, and let it sit undisturbed, and covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. If using mint, stir it in to the daal, and let it sit covered, and undisturbed, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.


11 responses

  1. You’re right…so hard to make some Desi food look appetizing 😑☺. But you did a great job because I’m totally drooling over this dal. And the recipe sounds so simple and perfect!! I will definitely try it. Thank you!

    • Thanks girlfriend! I’ve been trying for so long, and I’ve come to realize that the easiest way to photograph Desi food is to shoot it the way it’s served. No need to dress it up and frill it up!

  2. This looks possible for me to try! Wish this Norwegian luck! My oldest loves Indian and Pakastani cuisine, so I’ll work on is so I can surprise her next time she comes home for a visit. I don’t have an immersion blender, so what do you suggest? Can I just smash a portion of the lentils in the pot?

  3. I made this today and it turned out delicious! I didn’t have mint on hand but the next time I make it (which will be soon) I will make sure to add it. I always have great luck with your recipes and appreciate you taking the time to share.

  4. Has anyone tried making this recipe in an Instant Pot? I recently got one and it’s been sitting on my counter collecting dust. I am a tad bit intimidated of the device.

    • It’s funny that you mention that because I’ve made this in the InstantPot before! I set it on manual, I believe 5 or 7 minutes, and natural release. A few things to be wary of though-
      a. You may need less water… Experiment and see what works for you!
      b. Cooking desi food in the InstantPot is great, but I find that it makes the inner ring smell! That smell, if you have picky eaters at home, gets into almost everything you cook in it after. This was the only reason why I stopped using my IP; my husband is a notoriously picky eater, and he couldn’t stand how everything started smelling like a mix of daal, shami kabab, and God knows what else! hahaha

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