Tuesday, August 16
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23 Nov 2021 dal

Dal is one of the most popular Indian comfort foods which finds it way in diverse settings, from the humble weekday lunch at home to festive dinners in five-star buffets. It might seem the easiest dish for the novice cook to prepare, but in fact, getting your dal right is quite an elaborate process. Check out these all-time favourite recipes:

Dal Tadka


¾ cup toor dal

¼ cup moong dal/masoor dal

2tbsp channa dal

3 cups water

1 cup hot water

1½tbsp oil

½tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp minced garlic

1tsp minced ginger

1 onion – sliced finely

1 green chilli – slit

2 tomatoes – minced

½tsp turmeric powder

½tsp red chilli powder

1tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)

1tbsp chopped coriander – for garnish

lemon wedges for serving

For ‘tadka’ (seasoning)

2tbsp oil or ghee

½tsp cumin seeds

2 dried red chillies

½tbsp minced garlic

⅛tsp asafoetida

¼tsp red chilli powder


Pressure cook all the dals together with water on a medium heat for 3 to 4 whistles. Lightly mash keeping the chana dal intact. Add more water as required to bring to consistency. While the lentils cook, in a medium pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds to the hot oil.

They will begin to splutter, then add ginger garlic and saute on a low heat until fragrant. Add onions and green chillies and fry them until slightly golden.▢ Reduce the heat, add red chilli powder and turmeric, and give a quick stir. Add the tomatoes along with salt and saute until the tomatoes become soft.Transfer this to the cooked dal and simmer for about 6 to 7 minutes. Taste test and add more salt, if needed. Then add kasuri methi and give the boiling dal a good stir. Add coriander leaves and turn off the heat.

To get a smoky effect, place a tall steel cup in the center of the pot. With a tong hold a wood coal over direct fire like a candle or lighter until a portion of it becomes red hot. This will take about 2 minutes. Place this gently into the cup and pour ½tsp ghee directly over the hot coal. It will begin to release smoke. Quickly cover the pot and let the dal smoke for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the hot cooked lentils to a serving bowl. Pour 2tbsps ghee in a small pan and heat it on medium flame. Add cumin seeds and let them fry on a low heat until aromatic. Next add red chillies, followed by garlic and fry until light and aromatic. (Do not brown). Stir in asafoetida and red chilli powder. Quickly remove from heat and pour the tadka over the dal. Garnish dal tadka with coriander leaves. Squeeze some lemon juice over the dal while serving with with rice or rotis.

Dal Makni


¾ cup urad dal sabut (whole black lentil)

¼ cup rajma

1tsp salt

3.5 cups water

Masala for the Dal

1tbsp ghee

3tbsp salted butter – divided

1 medium white onion – finely grated

2tsp ginger garlic paste

½ cup tomato puree

½tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

¼tsp garam masala

½tsp salt

1½ cups

½tsp sugar

¼ cup cream

More salted butter – for serving

Piece of charcoal – for smoking


Soak the dal and rajma overnight and pressure cook with around 3½ cups water and salt on high-medium heat for 10 whistles. Then, lower heat to low-medium and cook for another 10 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. The dal and rajma should be completely cooked and you should be able to mash them with your fingers. Reduce heat to simmer while you prepare the masala.

In a large pot, heat 2tbsp butter and 1tbsp ghee on medium heat. Once the butter melts and is hot, add the finely grated onion. Cook the onion for around 5-6 minutes till it turns light golden brown. Keep stirring, add the ginger garlic paste, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the raw smell goes away. Add the tomato puree and mix. Cook for 2 minutes as the puree mixes well and oil starts oozing out from the sides. Add in the boiled dal (which had been simmering) and mix. Add garam masala, Kashmiri red chilli powder and salt. Mix to combine. Add ½ cup water, stir and set heat to low. Let it simmer on low heat uncovered for around 30. Stir every 10 minutes to prevent getting stuck to the bottom of the pot. (Add little water, if needed) Now, add sugar and mix, followed by 1tbsp butter and 1/4 cup cream. Mix well and simmer for 10 more minutes on low heat after adding the cream. Dal will become really creamy by now. (You may serve the dal at this point or do the additional step of giving it a smoky flavour, as in Dal Tadka recipe).

Dal Ghosht


500g mutton with bones

1 cup channa dal

½ cup toor dal

1 onion – finely chopped

1tbsp garlic paste

1tbsp ginger paste

2tbsp red chilli powder

1tbsp turmeric powder

½tsp cumin powder

1tbsp coriander powder

½tsp black pepper powder

Salt, to taste

½tsp gram masala powder

2tbsp ghee

2dry red chillies

½tsp cumin seeds

Lemon wedges – to serve


Soak the dal for 30 minutes. Boil the dal with the mutton pieces, salt, turmeric powder, and 3 cups of water in a pressure cooker, till the dal is soft.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 2tbsp of ghee, add the whole cumin and then the dry red chilli. Add the onions and fry till golden brown. Add the ginger, garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the coriander, cumin seeds, black pepper powder, red chilli and garam masala powder and fry till the ghee separates from the masala. Add the cooked dal-meat mixture to this masala and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Take off from the fire and serve garnish with lemon wedges.

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