Friday, 5 January 2018

Masala ni Daar ~ Spiced Lentils

Masala Ni Daar ~ Spiced Lentils

Comfort food at its best. Lentils are enjoyed by millions of people all over the Subcontinent inclusive of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  Full of protein, they tend to include healthy herbs and spices like turmeric, ginger, garlic and aromatic spices. Served with warm rotli, crisp bread or naan it is often the main course for family meals. This recipe has Parsi Food flavours with the traditional triology of thiku-khatu-mithu.

My personal favourite, lentil


Masala ni Daar | Lentil Stew


A pot of lentils and the addition of a variety of herbs, spices and vegetables makes for the best type of lentil stew. Left chunky we call it masala ni daar and pulverised served with vugharela chawal / caramelised brown rice and kachumber it is Dhansak – The icon of all foods Parsi – article on page xxx. But it is not so simple among the members of my community who will debate on the omission of broths and stocks from meats to call it a dhansak.

Vegetarian dhansak is referred to as masala ni daar. Some families add the small bundles of sekta ni singh to their vegetarian dhansak ni daar, including the broth created from the salt-turmeric water of the cooked moringa drumstick to add more flavour. All debates aside taking the step of cooking the masalo by itself is most important.




Serves 6




Masalo/The Spices
1tbsp oil

Combine and grind


1 tsp ginger paste

2 tsp garlic paste

8 large dry red Kashmiri chillies or 2 1/2 tsp chilli powder

4 green chillies

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp garam masalo   

2 generous tsp dhansak no masalo

2 tsp of jaggery

1 cup fried onions

3 medium chopped tomatoes

1 tsp tamarind paste

 1 cup fresh coriander leaves

 10 fresh mint leaves

2 small unripe mangoes – peeled and chopped


In a pot heat the oil and add the masalo – the spice mixture. Fry it on a low flame stirring all the time. You will know it is done when tiny droplets of oil are released and visible on the sides of the pan. Do not keep the flame on high. Keep stirring it. Remove this from fire after 3 minutes and keep aside.

Daar/The Lentils

In a large pot boil together


3 cups Toor/tuar daar

1 cup of red masoor daar

1 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp salt

8 to 10 cups water


Add 170gm/6 oz of salted butter


Cook the daar/lentils for about an hour and add the prepared masalo/spices to it. Mix well and bring it all to a boil. Cover, simmer and cook for another 30 minutes until the consistency is perfect.



The recipe is for a milder spice palate. Add chillies to your taste.


Tuar/toor is also called split pigeon peas. The come in an oile or plain variety. I use the plain in my recipes. Use any combination of lentils -  red masoor, yellow mung, tuar/toor and channa. If these are soaked for an hour or two it will cook very quickly.


Taste for khattu~mitthu~thikku to adjust the flavours to suit your families palate.

Tarko an optional step to finish it off.

You have the option of doing a tarko before serving which is simply heating a tablespoon of ghee or oil and adding a few round red chillies, a handful of curry leaves, a tsp of mustard seeds and poruing this over the ready to serve dar/lentil just before serving. It only takes a few seconds to cook in hot oil, and work quickly or it will burn.
You may also add slivers of fresh garlic if you enjoy it.
For more Parsi recipes click to order
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Dhansak No Masalo.
There is controversy about what some of the mixed blends of spices are called. Growing up the black-karo dhana jeera no masalo is what we bought ready from a specialist store, still available in Karachi at the Empress Market.

It generally includes all the dry ingredients like coriander seeds, cumin, black cumin, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, caraway, mace and more.  I do know a variation of this type of powder is available to buy ready for use in Indian stores under the label of Dhansak Masala.

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