Masoor ma gos

Masoor ma gos

Lamb cooked with Indian puy lentils

Mr Todiwala's Bombay
Helen Cathcart

Masoor is the whole lentil which is pink when skinned. Often called pigeon pea, it is a smaller cousin of puy lentils so glamourised by French cuisine. Indian cooking uses lentils and pulses a great deal and no one does more so than the Parsee community. Cooked with lamb here, the lentils can also be cooked with sheep’s tongue or chicken, or just cooked plain with some potatoes as a vegetarian option. This brings back memories of our family dining as a child. Our dad loved masoor so we had them often. Plus it was cheap and very filling!

Lentils and lamb


Quantity Ingredient
300-350g whole red lentils or puy lentils
1kg diced leg of lamb
2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste
or 6-8 garlic cloves, crushed, and 1 heaped tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
hot water, or lamb or chicken stock


Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons sunflower or rapeseed oil
7.5-10 cm piece cinnamon stick
3-4 green cardamom pods, split or lightly crushed
3-4 cloves, roughly crushed
2-3 dried long red chillies
2-3 green chillies, split in half lengthways
3 onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 heaped teaspoon chilli powder
1-2 teaspoons caster sugar
2-3 tomatoes, chopped, (optional)
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped
large knob butter

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
* chapattis [rid:9926]
or * baafaela chawal [rid:9909]


  1. Wash and soak the lentils in tepid water to come about 1 cm above the level of the lentils for an hour or two, if you have time (it is not vital but I prefer them this way).
  2. Clean wash and drain the lamb well. Rub it all over with the ginger and garlic paste and salt and set aside to marinate.
  3. After about an hour heat the oil in a flameproof casserole until nearly smoking and add the lamb, sauté well but remember that the ginger and garlic paste will stick so keep deglazing with a little water, scraping up the sediment from the base of the pan, and continue sautéing until browned. Add enough water or stock to almost cover the meat, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the lamb is almost tender, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and clean the casserole for the next stage.
  4. Prepare the masala. Heat the oil in the casserole and when a haze forms, add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and sauté for about 30 seconds until fragrant then add the red and green chillies and continue to fry until the red chilli changes colour. Add the onions and the water and sauté until onions are soft pale or light brown.
  5. Blend the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli powder in a few tablespoons of water to form a smooth thin paste and add this to the sautéing onions. Continue to cook until tiny bubbles of the oil are released and the aroma changes from smelling the raw powders to a deep cooked aroma.
  6. Add the soaked lentils and their soaking water and mix in well. Add a little more water, if needed, but they should, ideally, cook just as they are. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Once the lentils are cooked add the cooked lamb and check the seasoning. Add the chopped tomato if using, the chopped coriander and a good knob of butter. Stir well and season to suit. Serve with chapattis or rice.
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