Sabut/Whole Masoor Dal

On Tuesday I had a recipe for sabut or whole, unpeeled moong dal and today I have a recipe for sabut or whole, unpeeled masoor dal—is this what Americans call brown lentils? I’m not sure. Like moong/moog dal, masoor/mushoor dal is a staple Bengali dal but is made predominantly with the peeled and split versions. Or at least that’s the case in my slice of Bengal which may or may not be representative. As I noted on Tuesday, whole moong and masoor dal were never cooked in our home growing up. I’ve learned to enjoy their more robust textures and flavours relatively recently but I do very much enjoy them now. They do take longer to cook than their peeled and split versions but what is time during the pandemic? And once the pandemic is done I’ll just make them in the pressure cooker. As with Tuesday’s dal, this is a very simple affair: you boil the dal with haldi and then add a tadka to amp up the flavour. If you make a similar dal I’d be interested to know what tadka variations you use but this one is very tasty. Give it a go.


  • 1 cup saboot/whole masoor dal
  • 1/2 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tspn zeera/cumin seeds
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tspn or so of minced garlic
  • 1/2- 1 cup tomato, chopped
  • 2-3 Thai chillies, slit
  • 2 tblspns chppped dhania/cilantro
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tspn + 1 tblspn ghee
  • Salt


  1. Rinse the dal and bring to a boil over medium heat with the haldi, 1 tspn of ghee and 4 cups of water. Reduce the heat to a high  simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes or so.
  2. While the dal is cooking heat the remaining tblspn of ghee over medium heat in a small skillet, add the cumin seeds and saute till they split (a minute or so).
  3. Add the sliced onion and saute till browned around the edges.
  4. Add the minced garlic and saute till the raw aroma goes away.
  5. Add the tomato and salt and saute till the tomato has completely broken down and the oil separates.
  6. Add the contents of the skillet to the cooked dal along with the slit chillies and bring to a high simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Taste and adjust for salt, stir in the dhania and serve with rice/chapatis and achaar.


  1. As always with dal you have to keep an eye on it as it comes to the boil. Unless you’re using a very tall pot it’s going to try to make a break for it. Reduce the heat immediately when it begins to rise and give it a good stir to settle it down
  2. The water/dal ratio is really up to you. I like my dal to usually not be too thick and so I usually go with a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio. You could make it thicker by going 3:1.
  3. Keep in mind as well that as far as edibility goes the dal is ready once it has softened. You can stop the first part at that point—when it’s still completely holding its shape—and add the tadka then. Or you can go till it falls apart. I typically go somewhere in the middle. See what works for you texture-wise.
  4. I like to keep things simple tadka-wise. You could leave the tomato out completely, by the way, but I wouldn’t use more than 1 cup.
  5. You could use as little as 1 slit Thai chilli or even leave the chillies out altogether. I wouldn’t go past 3 slit Thai chillies though. You’re just trying to give the finished dal a bit of fruity bite/fragrance, not make it hot per se.



2 thoughts on “Sabut/Whole Masoor Dal

  1. This happens to be among my mother’s favorite lentils and beans so we had it a lot at home. I suspect though it is generally popular all over Maharashtra and versions of it abound in each region and family. Ours was a basic mustard seed tadka, with goda masala, amsul/tamarind and jaggery in the dal, or usal. Fresh grated coconut was added at the end.


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