Masoor dal Pulao (Red Lentil Rice)

By DK on Oct 20, 2010
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Lentils of all sizes, shapes, flavors and textures sit in my pantry. Being a vegetarian, its needless to say, Lentils do form a large part in our day to day diet. Being Indian on top of that, it becomes all the more essential cos lentils play a huge role in so many of our dishes. And when I say, day to day, I do not mean just in terms of consuming dal. I mention this cos recently I met with an American who was discussing Indian meals with me and she insisted that how we consume lots of dals and how that was our main source of protein. I agree but dals are not the only way we enjoy the lentils. Among the many ways, I use lentils in my kitchen, adding it the rice is also one variety we enjoy - like this Red Lentil Rice which in Hindi we refer to "Masoor Dal Pulao"
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Any lentil can be used to enjoy along with rice though the cooking time will vary. I use Red lentils cos they are quicker than many other lentils and personally I love its flavor with this kind of pilaf. I also find it convenient to pack for lunch box. One pot meal is always welcome in my household - as if I care to do dishes! And no, I don't use the dishwasher - where everything is done using only one skillet. Depending on the time and my enthusiasm, I serve it with an elaborate side dish or stick to simple Papad -Raita - pickle combo. Don't get intimidated with the list of ingredients - this can be made with as minimal ingredients as possible (example - just onions, cumin, tomatoes, lentils and rice will do the trick too!)
Basic Information
Prep Time: Under 30 min
Cook Time: Under 30 min
Serves: 2 people
  • 1 cup basmati or any long grained rice, soaked in water for 10-15 minutes
  • 1/2 cup red lentil (masoor dal - you can use more if you don't mind the final texture mushy. Tastes great though!)
  • 1 tsp cumin / fennel seeds
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2-3 spring onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 each of cloves and cardamom
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1-2 green chillies, thinly sliced (or as per taste)
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2-1/2 cups coconut milk (optional. Just replace it with vegetable stock/water instead)
  • salt to taste
  • few sprigs of cilantro for garnish
  • fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)
In a skillet in 1 tsp oil (or butter) saute the cumin, bay leaf, cloves, cardamom, garlic, chillies, ginger along with onion and salt.
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Once the onions get soft add the tomato along with turmeric and garam masala. Saute for another 1-2 minutes.
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Add the lentils and rice. Give it a mix and saute for another min or two until the rice gets aromatic/translucent.
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Add the coconut milk/water/stock. Mix well.
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Fluff it gently. I sometimes add frozen peas to this mix too towards the end of cooking. You can add more vegetables if you want to.
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Now to add some color and more flavor. Garnish it with spring onions and cilantro. Even mint leaves go v well with this.  I squeeze some lemon to this rice for couple of reasons. Of course for the flavor. It also helps to reduce the sodium level and third - most importantly - the citrus helps to absorb the iron present in the lentils. So whenever I cook with lentils, I add lemon juice to the dish.
Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
Serve hot with any side dish of your choice. A few drops of ghee optionally adds amazing flavor to this rice. Masoor Dal Pulao/Pilaf Recipe | Red Lentil Rice
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34 Responses to “Masoor dal Pulao (Red Lentil Rice)”
  1. Linda H

    I would like to make this but am wondering since I have ground cloves and ground cardamom, can that be used instead of whole? Thanks!

    Yes, it works great as well. –DK

  2. Radhika

    DK – Yipee! I made this pulav this morning. Blush Blush :-P. Came out well ( my next attempt will be better i guess).. Thank you !!!

  3. Nasreen

    I add carrot cubes of small size n it goes very well with it..

  4. taz

    also, what brand of basmati rice do you use? I used Royal basmati rice and it turned out mushy.

  5. Ellen

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was delicious! I never knew I could make Indian food so well. The recipe was easy to follow and I loved your tips/suggestions on how to make it taste better by adding lemon and ghee. I used lime instead and it was so good I had seconds! I would definitely make this again and look for more recipes on your site. Thank you! Because of you I had a good dinner!

  6. Atul

    Great recipe.. easy and delicious :-P

  7. abha

    Hello ! I made this tonight and it cane out slightly mushy. Not fluffy like yours. I madeit for four ppl so doubled the recipe so needed 5 cups of coconut milk . I used coconut cream because its what was available so I used 2.5 cream with 2.5 water . Do u think it might have been too much liquid ??

  8. Aruna

    I tried this recipe and the whole family really liked it! It has become a regular in my kitchen now :). Thanks!

    Thanks for the feedback Aruna :) –DK

  9. Shwetha

    Thanks for the clarification about adding the citrus juice :)…I misunderstood that line in the post!!
    I tried this out sometime last month and it came out well…

  10. My first visit to your blog here, and its a wonderful place. So many amazaing recipes, simple, healthy and looks delicious. I am going to be making this Masoor Dal Pulao tomor when I pack lunch!

  11. Melody

    how long do masoor whole lentils take to cook. from what I read in your blogs if they are called dal then they are skinned and halved and cook more quickly. the ones I have are whole and called Crimson Lentils.

  12. Shwetha

    Hi, I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime now and want to say its great :).
    I was curious to know if there’s any particular reason your trying to minimize the iron content in the lentils by adding citrus juice. I read somewhere that lentils are a good source of iron for vegetarians.

    ?? I do not add citrus juice to reduce the content of iron. I instead add it to help our body to absorb the iron from the lentils which lemon juice aids.

  13. no need to cook red lentils before hand as long as their are dal (hulled skinless)

  14. Sylvia Charles

    Want to know if the red lentil in this recipe needs to be soaked or precooked first before mixing it with rice. Have never cooked red lentil before but do know that lentils take some time to cook. Afraid that when the rice is cooked the lentis are still half cooked. Thanks.

  15. I adore rice dishes basmati and jasmine being my favorite types. The dal makes it is a complete meal.

  16. kripa

    :?: :( I made this recipe for 6.I used 3 cups rice,1.5 cups dal and 6 cups coconut milk + 2 cups water.The rice didnt seem to cook at all so i transferred it to rice cooker.No luck.Then after 1 hr on the rice cooker, I just had 2 put it in a pressure cooker n finish it.Came out like kichadi.Evry1 lvd the flavor n aroma but it was nowhere near what ur pics depict.Where did i go wrong?

    Its the quality of the rice. Many times the same proportion of liquid to rice ratio will not work across the board. Guess its the experience/used to factor of the rice you are using on a regular basis

  17. You always know how to tempt me!

    Believe u me – I am trying to learn it from you :) I should sue you probably for making me salivate on my KB so many times…..dont u know its bad manners making one salivate this way ;)..Guess my learnings from you are slowly starting to pay off :) :) :)

  18. Tried this recipe with Brown Rice, came out great!!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!!!

  19. Want some right now!! :-P

  20. sushma

    This looks really good! Planning to try it out this weekend! :)

  21. I’ve never mixed lentils with rice before! It seems so simple yet so brilliant! Looks wonderful.

  22. awesome mix of masoor dal and rice..mouth watering pics too..

  23. The pulao looks so appetizing , healthy and a nice pick for the lunch menu.

  24. Nutritious rice, looks yummy..

  25. The pulao looks so good. And the colout is so devine :). Just loved it!!!

  26. sunita

    hi dk so delicious yr recipes are so easy to make that i dont even rely on any other recipe and whatever recipes i have tried so far from yr site its always a hit thanks for all the delicious and easy recipes dk

  27. priya

    hi dk..looks lovely! just wanted to know if i can make this recipe with moong dal? But i guess it wont taste the same way, right??

    Of course it wont taste the same :)

  28. Lentil rice looks yummy. Your blog is great. I tied a recipe of yours and it turned out yummy. Love to try this also

  29. Looks delicious!! Masoor dal pulao has a super taste.

  30. richa

    hey…m gonna make ur veg hakka noodles today..was seeing other recipes..they look good… m gonna come bak to ur site again.. m looking for more of low sodium dishes…to go for high bp… but thanks…its ppl like u who make my life easier by sharing nice recipes with pics..keep doing ur good work..

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