Punjabi Orange Lentil Stew (Dal)

By Shubhra Ramineni

In the northern Indian state of Punjab, it is common to add butter to lentil dishes -and in this recipe, I indulge in this tradition.  When whole red lentils are skinned and split, they reveal an orange lentil, called dhuli masoor dal in Hindi.  Orange lentils make one of my favorite lentil dishes since they cook quickly, and have a nice rich taste to them with the finishing touch of butter!  Enjoy dhuli masoor dal with Indian flatbreads such as chapati, spooned over basmati rice, or simply by itself  as a ‘soup’  in a bowl!

Punjabi Orange Lentil Stew

Punjabi Orange Lentil Stew (Dal)

Serves 3 to 4

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Refrigerator Life: 2 days 

Freezer Life: 1 month

Reheating Method:  Place the refrigerated or defrosted dal in a microwave, cover and stir periodically.  Or, place dal in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir periodically. If the reheated dal seems too thick, you may add a bit of water to it.


½ cup (80 g) dried orange lentils (dhuli masoor daal)
2¼ cups (565 ml) water
1 small fully ripe tomato, such as plum (Roma), cut in half
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ heaping teaspoon cumin seeds
½ small onion, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 handful fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) (about ¼ cup/10 g packed leaves), rinsed and chopped


1.  Place the lentils in a small bowl.  Rinse the lentils three times by repeatedly filling the bowl with cold water and carefully draining off the water.  It is okay if the water is a bit frothy.

2.  Place the lentils, water, tomato, turmeric, red pepper, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a rolling boil over high heat.  It is okay if the water gets frothy.

3.  Stir and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Stir occasionally and lightly mash the tomato.

4.  Reduce the heat to low and partially cover the saucepan.  Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the lentils are completely soft.  Stir occasionally and continue to mash the tomato.  It should not look like the lentils are floating individually in the water. Instead, They should come together with the water when fully cooked and should be similar to a thick soup with an even consistency. Turn off the heat.

5.  To temper the spices, pour the oil into a small skillet and place over medium heat.  When the oil is heated, add the cumin seeds and onion. Stir to combine.  Sauté for about 6 minutes or until the onion is browned. Stir frequently.

6.  Add the tempered spices and butter to the lentils.  Stir to combine until the butter is melted.  Enjoy now or let cool to room temperature and refrigerate or freeze for later!  Just before serving, sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves on top.

Recipe courtesy of Shubhra Ramineni from her Indian cookbook,

 “Entice with Spice – Easy and Quick Indian Recipes for Beginners

http://www.spicegirlkitchen.com       Copyright © 2021 Shubhra Ramineni. All rights reserved.

About Shubhra Ramineni:

Shubhra Ramineni is a cookbook author and culinary instructor.  Shubhra grew up in Houston, TX  enjoying healthy, traditional Indian food and she learned to cook from her mother, an excellent home cook and a professional dietitian. Determined to eat well despite her busy schedule as a chemical engineer with an MBA, Shubhra set out to adapt traditional Indian recipes for the lifestyles of today’s professionals and busy moms like her, creating dozens of delicious, easy-to-prepare Indian recipes with both English and metric measurements in her award- winning cookbooks, Entice with Spice, Easy and Quick Indian Recipes for Beginners, and Healthy Indian Vegetarian Cooking (both available on Amazon).  Her no-fuss cooking methods and time-saving  tips will remove any intimidation of cooking Indian food. 

Instagram:  Spice Girl Kitchen

Website:  http://www.spicegirlkitchen.com

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