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Dal is a dried lentil that has been split, hull removed. There is an abundant variety of dal in India. Dal is also a comforting dish made by cooking dried split pulse until it becomes the delightful thick gravy. The simple flavor of dal is grown on me. I am loving it so much I admit. Give me a bowl of rice and dal, and I can be equally happy as much as the joy of watching my favorite movie over and over again. It is not easy to be bored by a simple dish like this.

dal 3

From what I’ve learned from my friends here in India, there are many types of dal. Different regions and households cook and flavor their dal differently. When I first came to India and was living with an Indian family, dal was an essential dish to almost every meal. For lunch and dinner, dal was always served with rice.

dal 1

I don’t remember exactly when I started cooking dal in my own kitchen. I don’t usually do it every day, but when I do, I enjoy every bit of it. Something feels so humble about the hot mellow dal on white rice. Starting from picking and feeling the grains of dal in your hand, the sounds of cooker blowing the steam on the stove, to the violent spluttering of mustard seeds, and the smoke of oil in the steel pot, the procedure of making dal is very enthusiastic.

dal 4

Now I will tell you how I make dal at home. My version is not elegant. Forgive me if this isn’t exactly perfect. I don’t flavor my dal with any spice except turmeric. I adore the simple flavor of this wholesome ingredient. It’s natural and earthy. It’s simple, humble, and well… delicious.



1 cup dal (dried)– soaked overnight

5 cups water

1 tsp salt

½ tsp turmeric

4 curry leaves

½ tsp mustard seed

1 tbsp vegetable oil


Cook soaked dal in about 4 cups of water with salt and turmeric until the dal is soft. The dal should start to break and to mix into the liquid. Use wooden spoon to stir and mash it until it comes out slightly thick. If you have a pressure cooker, you can cook the dal straight away without soaking it over night.

In another pot, heat oil over high heat. Add mustard seeds, and once the seeds start spluttering, add curry leaves. Quickly, add cooked dal and its gravy into the pot. Stir well and check the seasoning before turning off the heat.

Serve with rice.

dal 2

Let me know your version of dal. I would like to try them.


6 comments to Dal

  • Oswulf

    I’m rather surprised that you like dhal. My (Thai) partner and friends really don’t like any sort of pulse in a savoury dish. Lentils, beans, chickpeas are all off the menu. I can only cook them when he’s not around.

    Conversely, he will eat red kidney beans soaked in sugar syrup as part of a dessert, which I find utterly bizarre and rather revolting.

    For me dhal has to have a few slices of root ginger (helps the digestion) and some cumin seeds. I also start by frying off an onion which cooks with the pulses. A knob of butter stirred in at the end is also nice. Sometimes, to ring the changes, I’ll also add some chopped tomato for the final few minutes of cooking.

    • Tes

      I love how you cook dal. I’m going to try it with ginger root. To be honest, it took me a while to like dal as well. It’s true in Thailand, we use dal for dessert rather than savory dishes. But since I’ve lived in India for so long now, I started to get used to with the flavor of dal in savory dishes without realizing it 🙂

  • Ping~The Chic Laotian

    I was introduced to dal fry with the small plump orange dal. With fried onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric, salt and tomatoes. Pressure cook it and so delicious. Sometimes I put in sautéed spinach and have it with just rice. Yummy!

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