Dal (Indian Curried Lentils)

  • Cooking and Prep: 9.5 h
  • Serves: 8
  • Contains:

Dal, the Indian word for lentils, refers to a dish of cooked lentils, split peas, or beans.  Serve very thin dal as a soup, medium-thin dal with vegetables as a dip, and thick dal as a side dish.  In India, dal is a common accompaniment to curry dishes.

Ingredients (19)


Spice Mixture I

Spice Mixture II

Spice Mixture III

Start Cooking

Prepare the Dal

  1. Wash the lentils well, cover with water, and soak overnight. Drain and rinse well. (Soaking helps the lentils to hold their shape.)

  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft and translucent (five to 10 minutes). Stir in your choice of spice mixtures and sauté for three to five minutes.

  3. Stir in the lentils. Add four cups water (add a little more water to make a soup), cloves, cinnamon stick, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until very tender (about one hour). Discard the cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves.

  4. Add salt to taste. If desired, stir in the cilantro. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


If serving as a side dish, serve alongside rice and raita (yogurt salad). If serving as a soup, top with dollops of sour cream or yogurt.



Ginger Dal: Sauté 2 minced cloves garlic and 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger in 1 tablespoon hot oil until fragrant. Stir into the cooked lentils.


Yellow Split Pea Dal (Arhar Dal): Use 2 cups (about 1 pound) dried yellow split peas and 6 cups boiling water. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until soft (2 to 2 and 1/2 hours).


Dal with Lemon: Add 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice to the cooked lentil mixture.

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