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Baghdadi Curried Lentils

November 30, 2022
Justin Henry/FlickrJustin Henry/Flickr

Masoor dal, or curried red lentils, are made all over northern India. This recipe comes from the Baghdadi Jewish community of Calcutta—now Kolkata—where it is usually served with steamed rice, some spicy stir-fried vegetables, and perhaps some yogurt or raita on the side.

Featured in: The Lentil Connection


  • 1cup split red lentils (masoor dal)
  • 3cups water
  • 2medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • ½tsp ground turmeric
  • 2tbsp ghee or olive oil
  • ½tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2green chili peppers, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ to ½tsp red chili powder, to taste
  • ½tsp ground cumin
  • ½tsp garam masala
  • ¼tsp ground fenugreek (optional)
  • 2tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste
Yield: Serves 4 to 5


  • Step 1

    Rinse the lentils well under cold water, then place in a saucepan with the water, tomatoes, and turmeric and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender, adding a little more water if necessary.

  • Step 2

    Heat the ghee in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. Cook over a moderate heat until they start to sputter. Add the onion and continue to cook until it starts to turn golden. Add the chilis and continue to cook for 1 or 2 minutes without browning. Stir in the spices and simmer for 2 more minutes. Add to the lentils and season with salt. Serve hot, garnished with coriander.

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