Main dish

Red Lentils with Garlic Tadka (Masoor Dal Tadka)

Dive into the flavors of this Masoor Dal Tadka recipe, a classic dish featuring creamy red lentils topped with crispy garlic, perfect for any meal.

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Masoor Dal
Recipe insights & TIPS
Masoor Dal

Dive into the flavors of this Masoor Dal Tadka recipe, a classic dish featuring creamy red lentils topped with crispy garlic, perfect for any meal.

This Masoor Dal Tadka is a heartwarming dish that brings comfort and rich flavors to any dinner table, yet it’s simple enough to prepare even on a busy weeknight. The foundation of the dish lies in the creamy, disintegrated red lentils, which meld beautifully with the aromatic burst from the crispy garlic tadka. This traditional topping not only enhances the dal with a delightful crunch but infuses it with a deeply satisfying savoriness.

You'll want to ensure the lentils are cooked to perfection, achieving a mushy, porridge-like consistency that is both soothing and filling. Unlike other lentils, Masoor Dal cooks quickly and doesn’t require soaking, making it an ideal choice for last-minute meals. Plus, red lentils are a powerhouse of nutrition, rich in protein, fiber, and essential nutrients, supporting everything from heart health to digestion.

Lastly, don't hesitate to adjust the tadka to your taste. While the garlic provides a robust flavor, you can moderate the oil or switch to a lighter version such as olive oil or sunflower oil without losing the essence of this beloved Indian dish. The versatility of Masoor Dal Tadka means it can be tailored to various dietary needs, making it a universal favorite.

Masoor Dal


Can I use oil instead of ghee for the tadka?

Absolutely! While ghee offers a traditional flavor, vegetable oil is a great substitute for those looking for a vegan option.

How can I store leftover Masoor Dal Tadka?

Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat on the stove or in a microwave, adding a little water if the dal has thickened.

Can I freeze Masoor Dal Tadka?
Yes, you can freeze Masoor Dal Tadka. Place it in a freezer-safe container and it will be good for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Is Masoor Dal Tadka gluten-free?
Yes, Masoor Dal Tadka is naturally gluten-free as it primarily consists of lentils and spices. However, always check the labels of any additional ingredients like spices or broth for hidden gluten if you are highly sensitive or celiac.

Can I add vegetables to this dal recipe?
Absolutely! You can enhance the nutritional profile and flavor of your Masoor Dal Tadka by adding vegetables such as spinach, kale, carrots, or zucchini. Add them during the last few minutes of cooking to retain their texture and nutrients.

What are the best spices to use in Masoor Dal Tadka besides turmeric and cumin?
Other spices that work well in Masoor Dal Tadka include mustard seeds, coriander seeds, garam masala, and asafoetida. These spices add depth and complexity to the flavor of the dal. You can experiment with different combinations to find what suits your palate the best.

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Masoor Dal Tadka is a flavorful and nourishing dish known for its rich blend of spices and fragrant garlic tadka. Celebrated for its simplicity and comforting qualities, this meal is a beloved staple offering both comfort and nutritional benefits.

Main dish
30 minutes
Total TIME:
40 minutes
10 minutes


  • 1 cup Masoor Dal (red lentils), thoroughly rinsed
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Ingredient Swaps

  • For a vegan version, replace vegetable oil or ghee with coconut oil for added flavor and richness.
  • Substitute tomato with any mild, sweet vegetable, such as red or yellow bell peppers, to reduce acidity and add a crunchy texture.


  1. Rinse Masoor Dal (red lentils) and add to a pressure cooker with water, salt, and turmeric. Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat while the lentils cook. Add cumin seeds and wait until they sizzle and become fragrant.
  3. Add chopped onions and minced garlic to the pan, sautéing until the onions are translucent and the garlic turns golden, approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Mix in diced tomato and continue cooking until the tomato softens, about 3 additional minutes.
  5. After the pressure cooker has depressurized, open the lid and stir the lentils to check their consistency, which should be thick yet pourable. Adjust consistency with a little water if necessary.
  6. Stir the prepared tadka into the cooked lentils thoroughly. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 more minutes to blend the flavors.
  7. Transfer the Masoor Dal to a serving bowl and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.
  8. Serve the Masoor Dal hot, accompanied by steamed rice or flatbread.
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