Whole Masoor Dal (Brown Lentil Curry)

brown lentil curry in bowl

Whole masoor dal (brown lentils) tastes great with bread or a helping of white or brown rice. A tempering of ghee, onions, garlic, and cumin takes it to the next level.

  • Author: Saima
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 cups 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Pressure cooking
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


  • 2 cups whole masoor dal (brown lentils)
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 tbsp thick tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt, to taste

Tempering Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thinly
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes (optional)


  1. Rinse the brown lentils until the water runs clear. Soak them in 4 cups water for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the soaked lentils (along with the water), ginger-garlic paste, tomato paste, the three powdered spices, and salt to the steel insert of your instant pot and close the lid. Make sure the steam release vent is sealed and press the pressure cooking button (high). Set the timer for 25 minutes.
  3. When the timer goes off, wait for 10-15 minutes and release the rest of the steam. Open the pot and check the dal. It should be fully cooked and soft, but if it is too thick, add half to one cup water and stir well. 
  4. To temper the dal, heat ghee in a small frypan and add the onions. Fry until they just start turning golden, then add the garlic, cumin seeds, and red chilli flakes if using. Fry this mixture until the onions and garlic turn reddish-brown, then pour the tempering into the hot dal. Serve with Indian bread or rice. 


  1. If the dal is too thick after being cooked, simply add a little water to thin it out. You may have to cook it on sauté for about five minutes to make sure it becomes creamy again. 
  2. Do use red onions in this recipe, and fry the onions until they take on a deep caramel color. Fried onions taste terrific with brown lentil curry. 
  3. This dal keeps in the fridge for up to four or five days. It also freezes quite well. If you are thinking of freezing it, don't temper it with the ghee. Just pressure cook it, allow it to cool down completely, and freeze it in any container. 
  4. If you forgot to soak the dal before cooking it, increase the pressure cooking time by ten minutes. 


Keywords: whole masoor dal, brown lentil curry, Indian dal