3.7/5 rating (87 votes)

Brown Lentil Dhal

Sabut Masoor di Dhal

  • Heat Medium
  • Serves 4
  • Prep 10 mins
  • Cook 20 mins
Brown Lentil Dhal

A rustic wholesome brown lentil dhal with a nutty texture and an earthy flavour

Hari says

I have vivid memories of my mum cooking this dish using the dreaded pressure cooker, which incidentally I am sure would never have got past any health and safety checks today. The tears of terror when that thing hissed to temperature and then released its pressure still fills me with dread. But the memory is followed very quickly by the aroma of this whole brown dhal, with a swirl of melting butter in the middle of the bowl and my puffed up roti to dip into it take me right back to some good times!

It's really important that lentils and beans are cooked properly to get rid of their naturally occurring toxins and anti-nutrients. Whole lentils will take longer to cook, some require soaking overnight, some need to be cooked in a pressure cooker, unless you want to while away 4 or 5 hours watching them boil. 

The pressure cooker seems to be having a bit of a revival at the moment which is very exciting (I love pressure cooking or is that cooking under pressure?) anyway, trends are changing and we are beginning to realise that it's a healthy cooking method that locks in vitamins and minerals as well as significantly reducing cooking time. Gone are the days when you would be able to open it too early and end up with food all over the ceiling (yes that did really happen). These days they tend to have automatic lid locks and spring-loaded safety valves - how very posh!

  • Ingredients
  • Method


  • 200g brown lentils
  • Approx. 1L of water


  • 2 tbsp butter/ghee/vegetable oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 200g/½ tin of tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Handful of coriander, chopped


  1. Place the lentils in the pressure cooker with about 700ml of cold water and one tsp salt.
  2. Put the lid on the pan and secure it as instructed. Bring to the boil and allow the cooker to whistle three times.
  3. Reduce heat and leave it to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool - DO NOT REMOVE THE LID.
  4. In a frying pan heat the butter and add the onions and fry until lightly browned. Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes, ginger, chilli, turmeric and cook down so the tomatoes and onions melt, creating a thick masala paste. This will take about 10 minutes.
  5. Ensure the steam has been released from the pressure cooker and open the lid.
  6. Check the dhal is cooked by squeezing some lentils between your fingers. If they are still hard check the water level (add a little more if required) and re-place lid on the cooker and repeat as per step 2. Once the lentils are soft they are ready.
  7. Add the masala paste to the cooked dhal and cook together for a few minutes.
  8. Sprinkle in the garam masala and coriander to serve.

Served with

With a dollop of butter and a simple roti

Nutritional information

Typical values* per Serving
Fat (g)4.1
of which saturates (g)2.1
Carbohydrates (g)22
of which sugars (g)2.2
Fibre (g)4.1
Protein (g)11
Salt (mg)1.4
*Based upon calculated values, supplied by myfitnesspal.com. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated.

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Comments (6)

  • Dorothy Spangenthal

    Dorothy Spangenthal

    30 September 2018 at 17:19 |
    How much time is 3 whistles? My presto pressure cooker rocks. It doesn't whistle.


    • Hari Ghotra

      Hari Ghotra

      09 October 2018 at 09:59 |
      Hi Dorothy - Haha my pressure cooker is a very old one. I would leave this for 20 minutes. Hope this helps - let me know how the dhal turns out. Thanks so much for using the website Hari


  • Hari


    16 December 2014 at 10:22 |
    Hi Mohit
    This can be an issue - you can use just a normal pan but you will need to cook the lentils for a lot longer up to an hour on a gentle heat and ensuring they have enough water. You could also soak the lentils before hand for a few hours which will help reduce the cooking time.
    You could also use a slow cooker too.
    Does this help? Thanks Hari


  • Mohit


    14 December 2014 at 00:27 |
    What is the alternative to using a pressure cooker?


  • Hari


    18 November 2014 at 20:37 |
    Hi Kevin, Good to hear from you - I'm really pleased to hear that you are experimenting with the dishes and putting your own twist on the recipes. I like the sound of adding the spinach!


  • Kevin Lewis

    Kevin Lewis

    18 November 2014 at 16:44 |
    I have really been getting into my dahls recently. I have cooked this several times and it is always delicious. I have also added both spinach or chickpeas when I wanted something more substantial as a on bowl meal


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