Try Something New: Masoor Pulao

Red lentils and basmati rice.

I had already been planning to make tandoori chicken for dinner, so when I was given Yogini’s recipe and several key ingredients for masoor pulao (or lentil pulao) at my belated Mother’s Day brunch, it seemed like a sign. I had to make it immediately.

The original calls for 1-2 green chiles, thinly sliced. I’ve found that there’s nothing that ruins a preschooler’s enjoyment of a meal quite like hitting an unexpected bite of spicy. I compromise by tossing in the entire chile, halved and seeded, to give the recipe the necessary flavor. Then I remove the chile and discard before serving.


  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup basmati or other long-grained rice, soaked in water for 15 minutes and drained
  • 1/2 cup red lentil (masoor dal)
  • 1 packet Masala (1/2 cinnamon stick, 5 whole peppercorns, 5 whole cloves, 1 cardamom pod)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green chiles, thinly sliced (I used serrano, see above)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced thinly
  • Cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • Fresh lemon juice to taste (optional)


In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Saute the Masala, garlic, ginger, onion, chiles and salt. When the onions have softened, approximately 2-3 minutes, add the tomato and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the lentils and rice. Saute for another 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until the rice becomes fragrant and translucent. Add the water or stock, stir, and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes more, or until the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed.

Fluff gently and add green onions, lemon juice or cilantro for added flavor and garnish. Serve immediately.


“I liked the rice medium-ok,” said the Tiny Kitchen Assistant. “I like plain rice better, without all the flavor.” The adults agreed that the flavor wasn’t too strong, and could even benefit from more chiles without being intolerably spicy. With the addition of extra vegetables, like fresh peas, it could become a one-pot vegetarian meal.

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