Saturday, April 14, 2012


We made Dal at home quite often while growing up. My Dad always says that Dal completes a meal. This is a basic Dal that my Mom used to prepare. It is a versatile recipe and can be prepared in a variety of different ways. If you're short with some ingredients, you can still prepare Dal. For instance, you can use both tomato and onion to flavor Dal but if you're out of one, you can still prepare with the other.

We usually prepare it with a blend of four types of Dals but you can still prepare it by using only one type such as Toor or Chana Dal.  Keep in mind that Chana Dal takes much longer time to cook then Toor Dal. Curry Leaves give a very good aroma to the dish but if you're unable to find it, you can skip this ingredient. Curry Leaves can be found in most of Indian and Pakistani grocery stores.

I cook Dal using a pressure cooker so I do not need to soak them in water. However, without pressure cooker, you will need to soak and boil for longer time. I like to serve Dal with rice, some vegetable and meat dish.


Click on above image to enlarge

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Dal Base
1/4 cup Oily or Palin Toor Dal (Split Yellow Pigeon Pea)
1/4 cup Chana Dal (Split Black Chickpeas)
1/4 cup Moong Dal (Split Yellow Moong Bean)
1/4 cup Masoor Dal (Red Lentil)
1 teaspoon Salt

1 1/2 teaspoons Cumin Seeds
1 tablespoon Ghee or Oil
1 teaspoon Brown Mustard Seeds (Rai)
1 cup Onion - finely chopped
1 stem Curry Leaves – remove leaves and discard stem
1 cup Tomato – chopped
1 tablespoon Ginger – grated or finely chopped
1 tablespoon Garlic – crushed or finely chopped
2 teaspoons Red Chili Powder
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Powder
1 large Jalapeno or any Green Chili - cut in big chunks
1/4 cup Cilantro - finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
Salt to taste

Dal Base

  1. Combine all Dals in a pressure cooker pot and wash with few washes of water. Add 3 cups of water, salt and pressure cook over medium low heat for 4 whistles or 3 to 4 minutes after cooker starts steaming.
  2. Turn off heat and keep aside until all steam has been released for about 10 to 15 minutes. Open cooker and stir with wire whisk to crush and smooth it out.
  3. Add 3 1/2 cups of water; stir and bring it to a boil.
  1. While Dal is boiling; in a separate skillet over medium high heat, add cumin seeds and let it toast till fragrant and few shades darker.
  2. Add ghee or oil and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop, add onion and cook stirring frequently until onions are translucent.
  3. Add curry leaves and cook until onions are lightly golden in color.
  4. Add tomato, ginger, garlic, red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and cumin powder. Stir well and add some water if it is too dry.
  5. Continue cooking for few minutes until tomatoes are crushed.
  6. Pour this mixture to the dal pot and mix well. Season it with salt, and let simmer for 10 to 15 minutes adding more water (if required) for desired thickness of dal.
  7. Garnish with Jalapeno, cilantro and Garam Masala Powder; turn off heat and cover pot immediately. Let it sit for 5 minutes covered. Stir well before serving.
To cook without pressure cooker, combine all Dal in a bowl and wash with few washes of water. Fill enough water to cover Dal by couple inches and let it soak for at least 4 hours. Wash one more time and transfer to a pot. Add salt and enough water to cover it by few inches. Cook uncovered over medium to low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure it is not scorching at the bottom of the pot. Cook until dal is tender adding more water as required.

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