Masoor Aamti (Goan Style Brown Lentils)

Masoor Aamti

It is a myth that Goan cuisine is predominantly meat / fish based. That is not true. There is an equal emphasis on vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. Goans love to have a balanced meal.

I have spoken about Aamtis (pronounced as Aam- tea) from Goa on my blog before and I have featured a few Ras and Gholi Aamtis before.

The second type of Aamti we make is Masala Aamti. For this we roast whole spices and coconut and blend to make a masala base. These types of Aamtis are mostly made with lentils, pulses and fresh green peas. Today I am featuring Masoor Aamti or Goan Style Brown Lentils.

I remember my grand mum cooking this Aamti in the kitchen when we would get ready for school. She would pack the freshly made Aamti in our lunch boxes along with other goodies. The whole kitchen would be fragrant with freshly roasted and ground spices. The day we had Aamti in our lunch box it would be hard for me to wait till 1 pm for our lunch hour. I would often open my lunch box in the tea break itself and eat most of it then.

Last year when my Mum was here it felt like I was back in school as I woke up to these fragrant spices in my kitchen. Mums are just awesome. They know just what you love and crave. So here is my grand mum and mum’s special recipe for Masoor Aamti or Goan Brown Lentils.

This is a vegetarian, vegan, nut and gluten free recipe that is loaded with protein and healthy fats (from coconut) and requires 35 minutes of cook time. This recipe will serve 4 adults.

Coconut-Onion Masala Base before grinding
Coconut-Onion Masala Base before grinding

Ingredients needed are:

  • Masoor (Brown Lentils) – 1 cup (before soaking)

Ingredients to make fresh Garam Masala :

  • Garlic cloves – 5-6
  • Cloves – 6
  • Peppercorn- 10-12
  • Cinnamon – 1 inch piece
  • Coriander seeds- 2 teaspoon
  • Fennel seeds- 1 teaspoon
  • Poppy seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Green Cardamom- 2
  • Nutmeg- 1/4th teaspoon
  • Mace – 2 sprigs

Ingredients for the Aamti:

  • Coconut – 250 gms
  • Onion – 1 finely chopped
  • Coconut milk – 250 ml
  • Rice flour – 1 tablespoon
  • 2 teaspoon – oil
  • Tamarind – a grape sized ball
  • Water – about 200 ml (approximately)
  • Turmeric powder- 1/4th teaspoon
  • Red Chilli powder- 1.5 teaspoon (less or more as per taste)
Masoor Dal is cooked but not Mushy
Masoor Dal is cooked but not Mushy

Method of Preparation:

  • Making the Garam Masala Base :

Here is how I made Garam Masala at home. Click here to read the last post. (ingredients also stated above)

  1. Once the Garam Masala is ground and ready, in the same wok add one teaspoon of finely chopped onion and the freshly grated coconut and roast on medium flame till it gets toasted and brownish in colour. This should roughly take about 8- 10 minutes. Ensure it does not get burnt.
  2. Grind the toasted coconut and onion mixture again finely in a coffee/ spice grinder. Mix the ground Garam Masala you prepared and this coconut-onion powder. Mix chilli powder and turmeric with this mixture as well. This is the Goan Garam Masala base ready for the Masoor Aamti.
  • Prepping and cooking the Masoor/ Brown lentils:
  • Soak the Masoor/ brown lentils for 5-6 hours or overnight in water. Drain them after 6 hours.
  • Take a saucepan and add the Masoor and add enough water that just covers the Masoor. Keep this on medium flame and cover with a lid. In 10-15 minutes you can see the Masoor / brown lentils would have softened and would be cooked. They should retain their shape and should not be mushy. Next add the finely chopped onion and salt. Mix well and cover with a lid for 5 – 8 minutes till the onions turn soft.


Masoor Aamti

       Cooking the Aamti:

  • Soak the tamarind in 2 tablespoon warm water. Next add the pulp to the cooked Masoor / brown lentils. Now add the Goan Garam masala including the coconut/onion Masala base we prepared to the saucepan. Mix it well. Add about 50 ml of water if needed.
  • Take Coconut milk and add about 100 ml water and mix 1 tablespoon of rice flour to it. Add this mixture to the saucepan as well.
  • Mix this well and let it come to a boil for about 7-10 minutes. This helps the masala and the tamarind to infuse their flavours in the Aamti.
  • Your Masoor Aamti / Goan Brown Lentils is now ready to be devoured. Serve with roti or rice or even dosa.
Masoor Aamti

Recipe- Leena Paivaidya (Mum) and Sumati Desai (Aai)
Concept, Styling and Photography- Sharvari P Mehan

  • Points to remember when making Masoor Aamti:
  • The Masala base Aamtis use minimal oil that is used to roast the spice.
  • We do not add any tempering/ vaghaar to the Aamti. Honestly there is no need for it. Trust me….
  • Adding rice flour to the coconut milk ensures that the Aamti is homogenous as a mixture and the lentils and the gravy do not separate. You can use Maida/ cornflour for the same purpose as well.
  • We add more chilli powder later while the Masoor Aamti is boiling however that is optional and depends on your chilli preference and tolerance.
  • The onions cook with the Masoor and as stated earlier no oil is used to cook the onion so this adds an additional dimension to the taste of the dish.

I hope you enjoyed today’s recipe. Do leave me your feedback in the comments below.

  1. This is my all-time favourite aamti & I am happy that u r taking forward the legacy of yr grandmother Aai .Yr description & writing is as usual great.Keep the good work going.

    1. Thank you so much Mom
      Its Aai and the awesome good you ans Meeta and Asha Mavshi have made in the growing years that have developed my love for good food.
      Thank you for everything

  2. LOVED these lentils Shivu! Loved your garam masala as well! Can we ask your opinion on two ingredients? can we use a little nutmeg instead of mace sprigs? also, some lime zest instead of tamarind would work? Sorry for asking these, it’s just that’s really hard to find some authentic ingredients here in Greece, we hope you understand…
    Kudos for the beautiful post, we ‘re both huge fans of lentils:)
    Love from Athens,
    Mirella and Panos

    1. Thank you for always supporting and liking my recipes …. Absolutely a little substitution would work… Instead of lemon zest you could add tomato paste that would still give a similar feel to the Aamtis.

    1. Thank you so much Esha…definitely less oil is usually used in Goan Aamtis as they incorporate good fats through Coconut.

    1. Thank you Prisha. I guess it is marketed mainly by restuarants and tourism industry as a seafood hub but honestly the vegetarian fare in Goa is extremely different from the rest of the country and extremely delicious.

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