Cheerful & fragrant red lentil masala dal

overhead view of cooked red lentils and tomatoes with sliced scallions and chopped parsley

Cheerful and fragrant red lentil masala dal is healthy and plant-based, full of aromatic spices and the perfect Indian flavors for sunshine in a bowl.


  • 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • ½ cup diced red onion (more for garnish if desired)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fenugreek
  • 1 tsp. smoked or regular paprika
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • 115 oz. (400 gm.) can cherry or diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups split red lentils, rinsed and drained


  1. Heat a medium soup pot to medium and add 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds. Toast the seeds for about 1 – 2 minutes until they start to become fragrant. Be sure to stir constantly so they don’t burn.
  2. Add the red onion. Saute until the onions start to break down (about 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in the garlic for another 30 seconds.
  4. Next mix in the 2 tsp. ground coriander, ½ tsp. ground cardamom, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground fenugreek, 1 tsp. smoked or regular paprika, ¼ tsp. nutmeg and ¼ tsp. black pepper.
  5. Add the 2 Tbsp. Sriracha or other hot sauce and the tomatoes. Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes if necessary.
  6. Add the vegetable broth and stir everything. Be sure the pot is simmering.
  7. Add the red lentils, mix well so they don’t all clump together.
  8. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes or until the lentils are tender and your dal is thick and creamy.
  9. Serve with rice and garnish with chopped cilantro or sliced scallions.


  • If you use whole, rather than split red lentils, it will take about twice as long for them to get tender. Be sure to check the pot a few times and add more broth or water if necessary.
  • Nutritional information does not include the rice.

Keywords: red lentil masala dal

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