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Whole Red Lentils with Cumin & Shallots Sabut Masoor

Use up cheap red lentils in this staple vegetarian dish from Madhur Jaffrey. Serve in a thali or simply on its own with a variety of pickles.

From the book


A lovely, nutritious dish, full of fibre and protein. I love it with Tomato Rice , a yoghurt relish and some leafy vegetable. You could also serve it with Indian flatbread, pickles, relishes and a potato dish. Indian grocers sell this dal as whole masoor or sabut masoor. The red lentil is whole, not split, and still has its brownish skin.

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200 g/7 oz whole red lentils (sabut masoor)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1½ tbsp olive or peanut oil
generous pinch of ground asafoetida
¼ tsp whole cumin seeds
2–3 dried hot red chillies
1 good-sized shallot, peeled and cut into fine slivers
butter (optional)
lime or lemon wedges (optional)


Wash and drain the lentils. Place them in a medium saucepan, add 600 ml/1 pint water and bring to the boil. Skim off the froth from the surface and add the turmeric. Stir, cover partially and simmer gently for 1 hour. Mix in the salt.

Put the oil in a small frying pan and set over a medium heat. When hot, add the asafoetida. After a few seconds, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add the red chillies and fry until they darken, then quickly stir in the shallot. Fry until the slivers turn a rich reddish colour and become crisp.

Tip the contents of the frying pan over the lentils and cover immediately to entrap the aromas. Stir before serving, adding about 2 pats of butter if you wish. Serve with the lime wedges on the side (if using).


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