Masur Dhal with Spiced Onion and Curry Leaves

, from Issue #37. August, 2015
Photography by Manja Wachsmuth.
Masur Dhal with Spiced Onion and Curry Leaves

Serves: 4–6


1½ cups masur dhal, rinsed and drained 
4 cups water
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons sea salt

Spice topping
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 stalks curry leaves
½ -1 teaspoon chilli flakes
1½ teaspoons each ground coriander and cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup coconut cream
¼ cup chopped coriander


Put the dhal, water and turmeric in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally or until the dhal is very thick. Add the salt in the last few minutes of cooking then stir frequently to prevent it sticking on the base of the pan. If salt is added before the lentils are tender, it will prevent them from softening. Cover and keep warm or cool and reheat to serve.

Topping: Heat the oil in a sauté pan and add all the ingredients except the coconut cream and coriander. Cook over a medium low heat until the onion is soft and the curry leaves are crisp. Add the coconut cream and simmer for 3 minutes then stir in the coriander. Stir half the topping through the dhal.

To serve: Put the dhal in a shallow dish and spoon over the remaining topping mixture. Drizzle with a little extra coconut cream if desired. Serve with warm Indian breads.

Pantry Note
Masur Dhal: also masoor dal. A split red lentil, available at good supermarkets and Asian food stores.