Masoor Dal Recipe: Easy Red Lentil Dal from Bangladesh

This masoor dal recipe is quick to make, nutritious and packed with flavour. Serve with creamy raita and paratha or rice for an easy weeknight dinner.

Masoor Dal Recipe | Bangladesh Cuisine

Bangladesh Cuisine

Finally… We’ve made it to our first Asian country in our around-the-world cooking challenge! Given how much Asian food we normally cook in our household, we have been hanging out for this moment. Admittedly, while we make and eat a lot of Indian, this was our first experience making Bangladeshi cuisine. Being neighbouring countries and having a similar colonial history, we knew India and Bangladesh use a lot of the same ingredients and cooking techniques. However, we were curious to learn the distinct differences between the two cuisines.

From our research, we learnt that Bangladeshi cuisine has over time been largely influenced by Mughlai cuisine, which was left behind by the Persian rulers. This can be seen through many of the country’s very rich and aromatic dishes, which utilise a wide variety of spices and heavy usage of ghee. Bangladesh’s cuisine has also been greatly shaped by the Bengali influence. Bengal is a geopolitical region including modern Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal. The dishes and flavours are very similar across both regions. However, while West Bengal is a Hindu region, meaning it is predominately vegetarian, Bangladesh is a Muslim country, so halal meat is prevalent.

Over 60% of the population of Bangladesh live off the land, cooking what is accessible to them. With the abundance of rivers and coastal region throughout the country, this means fish is far more commonly eaten than meat. Thankfully, vegetables are also in abundance, meaning many Bangladeshi dishes are vegetarian. When vegetables are eaten, they are eaten in full, leaving no stem or leaf to waste.  Lentils, rice and variations of fried bread are also staples of the Bangladeshi diet.

Popular Bangladeshi Vegetarian Dishes

  • Dal- a staple in the Bangladeshi diet, dal is made of lentils, peas or beans that are dried, spilt and boiled, then made into a thick, seasoned soup
  • Panta bhat–  leftover rice that is soaked in water overnight to ferment then is seasoned by salt, chili and onion and served for breakfast
  • Paratha- a flaky, layered flatbread made from shallow frying dough in ghee or oil. Stuffed parathas are also popular, with fillings including potatoes, dal or other vegetables.
  • Chachchari– a dish made from frying up a mix of spices which chopped vegetables are then cooked in.
  • Firni- A rice pudding made by boiling broken rice in milk and sugar. In different variations you’ll find saffron, cardamon, fruit and nuts (similar to the Bahrain pudding we made).
  • Rasmalai a traditional Bengali dessert made with semolina dumplings soaked in sweetened milk, which is often spiced with cardamom and decorated with ground pistachios. 
Masoor Dal Recipe | Bangladesh Cuisine

Making Red Lentil Dal (Masoor Dal)

Dal may not be unique to Bangladesh, but it is one of the most commonly consumed vegetarian dishes of the country. We had a friend who lived in Bangladesh for a while, and she always talked about how much dal she ate while she was there. Dal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All day, every day. As such, we thought it would be fitting to make this as our dish for Bangladesh.

If we are being honest, neither of us have been particularly blown away by dal in the past. Often, we find it be pretty bland. Similarly to why we opted to make dolma for Azerbaijan, we wanted to use this as opportunity to try and create a dal that had enough flavour for our fussy palettes.

Discovering the secret to a flavoursome dal

It was a pretty successful experiment, as it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable dals we’ve both had. During our recipe research, we believe we may have discovered the secret to a flavourful dal. Namely, a tadka. Tadka (which in English is known as tempering) is where spices are briefly roasted in oil to release their aromatic flavour then added on top of a dish. A tadka is a great way of adding extra flavor to dal to ensure the dish isn’t bland. We based our recipe for red lentil dal off one by Spice Bangalore, which of course, includes a tadka.

We should mention that we made some delicious flaky parathas with which to scoop up the dal and this definitely upped the enjoyment levels of the dish. Again, dal is not a dish we would go out of our way to order at a restaurant. However, it certainly makes for an easy, healthy and affordable weeknight dinner.

How to make red lentil dal

This red lentil dal makes for a quick and easy dinner as it comes together in less than 30 minutes in the following steps:

  1. Make dal by heating oil in pan and adding ingredients in stages, briefly sauteing each ingredient set before adding the next.
  2. Add in lentils then water and cook for 15 minutes until tender.
  3. Make tadka by heating oil in another pan and briefly frying spices, then pouring tadka ontop of the dal.

Masoor Dal Recipe | Bangladesh Cuisine

Ingredients notes for this masoor dal recipe

  • Red lentils- For this dal, we used dried red lentils. You can also use yellow lentils. Whatever you do, do not use pre-cooked lentils from a tin. They won’t create the same flavour or texture experience.
  • Chilli– We’d recommend both fresh green chilli and dried chilli for this recipe, but you can substitute for any kind of chilli you can get your hands off (or omit all together if you are spice sensitive)
  • Spices– We realise this recipe does call for a lot of spices, which may be intimidating if you don’t have a well-stocked spice rack. In our opinion, a large collection of spices are SO worth the investment. They add a huge amount of flavour to dishes like this and allow you to broaden the cuisines you cook.
Masoor Dal Recipe | Bangladesh Cuisine

Serving suggestions for this masoor dal recipe

We had our red lentil dal with paratha, which is a buttery flaky flatbread that is very popular in Bangladesh. Making paratha is a bit of a labour-intensive process, but the result is delicious. We used this recipe to make our paratha. We also served out dal with raita, a refreshing yogurt-cucumber sauce that we’ve included the recipe for below.

Masoor Dal Recipe: Easy Red Lentil Dal

Masoor Dal Recipe: Easy Red Lentil Dal

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This bengali masoor dal recipe made with red lentils is quick to make, nutritious and packed with flavour. Serve with creamy raita (yogurt sauce) and paratha or rice for an easy weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

Lentil dal

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, minced
  • 4 green chillies, cut down the middle
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/4 turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils, washed thoroughly
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped

Tadka

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 curry leaves

Instructions

Make dal

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves and stir for 30 seconds. Add diced onions and sauté until translucent. Add in minced garlic, ginger, green chillies, chilli powder, turmeric and salt, and sauté for another minute.
  2. Add in chopped tomatoes and sauté until soft. Add in washed lentils and fry for another 2 minutes. Add 4 cups of hot water and stir, then cover and cook for 15 minutes or until lentils are tender. Take off heat and stir in chopped coriander.

Make tadka

  1. While masoor dal is cooking, prepare the tadka by heating 2 tablespoons of oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add minced garlic and cook until brown. Next, add in cumin seeds, dried red chillies and curry leaves and stir.
  2. Pour tadka on top of dal and serve with rice, roti or paratha and raita (yogurt sauce).

Did you make this recipe?

Leave a comment & review above or share a photo on Instagram tagging @polkadotpassport so I can reshare your creations!

Other dishes to make using lentils

Liked this masoor dal recipe? Pin it for later!

Masoor dal recipe from Bangladesh (easy red lentil dal with raita)
Nicola Easterby Bio Image

Hey, I'm Nicola!

I am a travel + food blogger on a mission to discover the best destinations & dishes in the world. Thanks for joining the adventure!

READ NEXT:

Sticky Toffee Pudding Gingerbread Cake

Sticky Toffee Pudding Gingerbread Cake

What do you get when you combine sticky toffee pudding with gingerbread and add cream cheese icing? The ultimate festive cake! If you're looking for a cozy festive dessert, look no further than this sticky toffee pudding gingerbread cake. This cake is moist, rich and...

read more
Raw Snickers Slice (Vegan + Gluten-Free)

Raw Snickers Slice (Vegan + Gluten-Free)

If you are looking for a vegan/ gluten-free alternative to a Snickers bar, you need to try my raw Snickers slice. It's layered with peanut butter mousse, caramel and chocolate and is truly delectable! This raw Snickers slice is my GO-TO when I am craving something to...

read more
Pönnukökur: Icelandic Pancakes Recipe

Pönnukökur: Icelandic Pancakes Recipe

Pönnukökur, or Icelandic pancakes, are thin, crepe-like pancakes filled with thick, creamy skyr yogurt and topped with fresh berries. You need to try this healthy & delicious breakfast from Iceland! Almost every country in the world seems to have a version of...

read more

READ NEXT:

Our Dream South of France Wedding

Our Dream South of France Wedding

This is what it looks like to have a 3-day wedding in the South of France! On the 23rd of August 2023, James and I finally got to have the wedding celebration of our dreams. We had sixty of our nearest and dearest flying from all over the world to join us for three...

read more
The Ultimate Packing List For a Skiing Holiday

The Ultimate Packing List For a Skiing Holiday

A skiing holiday promises a lot of adventure, but like all great adventures, you need to be prepared. Packing for skiing - especially for first-timers - can be daunting, so here is the ultimate packing list for your skiing holiday. Whether you’ve planned your trip a...

read more
25 Best Places to Visit in Bali in 2024

25 Best Places to Visit in Bali in 2024

Bali has something for everyone, from its breathtaking beaches and rice terraces to ancient temples and vibrant markets. Whether you want to unwind on the beach, dive into the rich culture, or go on an adventure, this tropical paradise has you covered and won't...

read more
Skip to Recipe