HN Issue 14: How To Make Bangladeshi Red Lentils

Otherwise known as "Moonsoor Dahl" in Bangladesh, this recipe is worth serving to almost any guest! The fresh, rich flavours of Asia will tingle your tastebuds (but not overpower them) in this easy-to-make family favourite.

We spent a day with Halima and her family from Mymensingh, Bangladesh. She was thrilled to show us how to prepare this meal.  Made with love and endorsed by a family that loves it!

(To read more about Halima, her family, and their story as they combat poverty in their community, check out the Fall/Winter issue of FH's Hope Notes.)

So!  We - April, Christine, and Mike - decided to try it out in our Canadian kitchen!  We may have laughed and fumbled our way through it, but it was a huge success!  And incredibly tasty... so much so that we fed it to our own families and friends!

Strap on an apron (you don't want to stain your nice shirt!) and let's get cooking!

Bangladeshi Red Lentils ("Moonsoor Dahl")


4 cups water
1 cup dry red lentils, washed
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tomato, diced
1 tbsp turmeric
5 bay leaves
2 Indian chilies, thinly sliced
1 ½ tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
½ bunch cilantro, leaves and stalks chopped.
salt (to taste)
Basmati rice (white or brown)

Surprisingly, these ingredients were not hard to find at all.  Well, okay, we may not have actually found any Indian chilies at the local grocer, so we substituted them for some other varieties of hot pepper (which can be a smart move if you don't love spicy foods!)  If you have specialty import stores, you may have more luck.

Health nut? We also cooked it without any oil!  Instead, we fried what little there is to fry using water.

Mike (not always the shiniest dish in the china cabinet) attempted the recipe first with a sweet pepper, less tumeric, and brown rice... and the results weren't bad, per se... but it made for a more bland dish.  Take the risk! Load in the tumeric, and buy a hotter pepper and enjoy a slight kick of heat!

Cooking Instructions:

Prep Time: 60 minutes
Serves 4 adults.
  1. Mix water, lentils, 1 ½ onions, tomato, turmeric, bay leaves, chilies in a large pot. Stir and simmer until the lentils are tender (40-45 minutes).
  2. Fry oil, ½ onion and cumin in a large frying pan. As the onion softens, add garlic. Fry until golden brown.
  3. Combine all into the frying pan (be careful not to splash!). Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer all back into the large pot. Add salt to taste. Add cilantro. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Serve over Basmati rice.

Again we were pleasantly surprised by how easy this recipe was to complete.  For some reason, we went into it thinking that because the recipe comes from halfway around the world, it would be hard.  But it really has only a few simple steps.  Some chopping, some simmering, some frying... and then eating!

And it was YUMMY.  It really has a nice mild, yet exotic flavour. April made her dad enjoy a plate (though he wasn't so good at eating it with the fingers of his right hand like they do in Bangladesh), and it did not disappoint.

Try it!  

Did you?  Tell us about your experience: [email protected]



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Food for the Hungry: HN Issue 14: How To Make Bangladeshi Red Lentils
HN Issue 14: How To Make Bangladeshi Red Lentils
Food for the Hungry
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