Red Lentils

Botanical Information

Family: Fabaceae

Genus: Lens

Species: culinaris

Variety: Red lentils (Lens culinaris var. rubricoccus)

Red lentils, also known as Masoor dal, are a type of lentil that belongs to the legume family. They are small, lens-shaped seeds with a reddish-orange color and a mild, nutty flavor.

Nutritional Information

Red lentils are highly nutritious and offer several health benefits. Here is the approximate nutritional composition of red lentils per 100 grams:

Calories: 116

Carbohydrates: 20 grams

Protein: 9 grams

Fat: 0.4 grams

Dietary Fiber: 8 grams

Calcium: 15 mg

Iron: 3.3 mg

Magnesium: 36 mg

Phosphorus: 122 mg

Potassium: 369 mg

Sodium: 2 mg

Zinc: 1.2 mg

Vitamin C: 1 mg

Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 0.2 mg

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 0.1 mg

Niacin (Vitamin B3): 0.5 mg

Vitamin B6: 0.1 mg

Folate (Vitamin B9): 105 mcg


The botanical name of red lentils is Lens culinaris. The term “lens” refers to the lens-shaped appearance of the seed, and “culinaris” indicates its culinary use. The word “lentil” is derived from the Latin word “lens,” which also means “lens” or “lentil.” This name reflects the unique shape and appearance of the lentil seed.

Red lentils likely originated in the Near East, specifically in the regions of India and Pakistan. Lentils have a rich history and have been part of the human diet since the aceramic Neolithic times, which refers to the period before pottery production. Archeological evidence indicates that lentils were consumed as early as 13,000 to 9,500 years ago.

One of the earliest cultivated crops, lentils were crucial to the diets of ancient peoples in the Near East. Archaeological sites in the Middle East have yielded lentil seeds that date back 8,000 years. Because of their mention in holy books like the Bible, they are both historically and culturally significant.

Lentils, along with other basic crops like barley and wheat, have been consumed historically. Along with these other grains, lentils were carried across Africa and Europe by migrating and exploring peoples. Lentils were brought to India long before the first century A.D., and they continue to play a significant role in the country’s traditional cuisine, particularly in the form of spicy lentil dishes called “dal.”

There are several religious and cultural rituals that include lentils. Lent is a time of fasting and introspection, and lentils have long been a staple diet in many Catholic nations. Lentils are highly prized for their high dietary value and their capacity to sustain life in the face of dietary constraints.

Countries including India, Turkey, Canada, China, and Syria are among the world’s top commercial producers of lentils right now. The nutritious value and culinary variety of lentils have contributed to their meteoric rise in popularity across the world.

  • High in Fiber: Red lentils are an excellent source of dietary fiber. They contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, which aids in digestion, promotes a healthy gut, and helps prevent constipation.
  • Heart Health: Red lentils contribute to heart health in multiple ways. They are low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making them heart-healthy food choices. Additionally, they are rich in folate, which helps lower the levels of homocysteine—a compound associated with an increased risk of heart disease. The high magnesium content in red lentils also promotes cardiovascular health by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow.
  • Blood Sugar Management: The high fiber content in red lentils helps stabilize blood sugar levels. It slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar. This makes red lentils a valuable food for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels.
  • Weight Management: Red lentils are nutrient-dense and high in fiber, which can contribute to weight management. The fiber content helps you feel fuller for longer, reducing the chances of overeating and aiding in weight loss or weight maintenance.
  • Nutrient-Rich: Red lentils are packed with essential nutrients, including protein, iron, potassium, and B vitamins such as folate and thiamine. These nutrients play crucial roles in energy production, muscle function, immune support, and overall health.
  • Bone Health: Red lentils contain important minerals like phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium, which are essential for maintaining bone health and preventing conditions like osteoporosis.
  • Digestive Health: The fiber in red lentils supports a healthy digestive system by promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. It also provides fuel for beneficial gut bacteria, supporting gut health and a balanced microbiome.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Red lentils contain various antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which help protect against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Look for red lentils that are bright and vibrant in color. Avoid lentils that appear dull, faded, or discolored.
  • Check for any signs of moisture or insect damage. Lentils should be dry and free from any pests or mold.
  • Opt for lentils that have a uniform size and shape. This ensures even cooking.
  • Store red lentils in an airtight container to protect them from moisture and pests.
  • Keep the container in a cool, dry, and dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard.
  • Ensure that the lentils are completely dry before storing them to prevent spoilage.
  • Avoid storing lentils near strong-smelling foods as they can absorb odors.
  • Properly stored red lentils can last for up to one year, although they are best when consumed within six months.

Red Lentils Recipes


1 cup red lentils, washed and drained

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1-inch piece of ginger, grated

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (adjust to taste)

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tomato, chopped

Salt to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


  • Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  • Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
  • Add chopped onions and sauté until they turn golden brown.
  • Add minced garlic and grated ginger. Sauté for a minute until fragrant.
  • Add the ground coriander, turmeric powder, chili powder, and garam masala. Stir well to combine the spices.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and cook until they become soft and mushy.
  • Add the red lentils and mix well.
  • Pour in 3 cups of water and season with salt.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and the curry has thickened.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Serve the red lentil curry hot with steamed rice or naan bread.


1 cup red lentils, washed and drained

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

4 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley leaves for garnish


  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté until the vegetables soften.
  • Add minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add cumin powder, paprika, and turmeric powder. Stir well to coat the vegetables with the spices.
  • Add the red lentils and vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  • Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the soup until smooth.
  • If the soup is too thick, add more vegetable broth or water to reach your desired consistency.
  • Adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • Serve the red lentil soup hot, garnished with fresh parsley leaves.
  • You can also drizzle some lemon juice on top for added freshness.

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