cooking / India / Recipes

In the mood for dal

I love Indian food. Since tasting it IN India I have been craving dal. I had the most divine yellow dal dish called Masoor Dal Dadka while in Delhi. I have yet to discover a restaurant here serving a nice dal. More often than not they use red or black lentil, which offers a completely different taste, and are often undercooked. Since hubby is spending a lot of time on ‘the continent’ at the moment, I asked him to see if one of his colleagues wives would suggest a recipe for me to try.

Lucky for me, hubby was able to get me a recipe. The only downside was it required a pressure cooker – something I don’t have in my kitchen. Not having equipment has never stopped me before, so I  decided to make the recipe using the stovetop instead. Next came the list of ingredients. Curry leaves… hmm. We searched all over our local wet markets and supermarkets but couldn’t find curry leaves, so with a little research we discovered Basil can be used as a substitute. I was a little worried about subbing in basil, but as I say to my helper often when I cook ‘what is life without a little bit of experimentation’.

The final product looked great, smelt great, and tasted great!

It was creamy with a slightly spicy aftertaste.

Recipe: Masoor Dal

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: an hour or 2 (depends on how quickly the lentils mush down)


1 cup Masoor dal lentils
2+ cups of water
2.5 Tbsp cooking oil (I used sunflower oil)
4 or 5 curry leaves (if curry leaves aren’t available you can substitute with fresh basil leaves)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped into small pieces
2 green chillies, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 handful coriander leaves, chopped
salt to taste – I use between 1/2 and 1 tsp


Wash the lentils thoroughly. In a pot, place 2 to 3 cups of water and the lentils. Cook over a medium heat, checking frequently and adding water as necessary. Cook until the lentils have turned into a yellow mush.

While the lentils are cooking, heat cooking oil in a pan or wok. When the oil is hot, add curry leaves and cumin seeds. Wait until it splutters and let it cook for an additional 30 seconds or so.

Add the onions and cook until they are very translucent on the verge of turning brown.

Add the chopped tomatoes, green chillies, tumeric powder, ginger and garlic paste. Cook until it is smashed into a chunky sauce.

When the lentils are mushy, add the smashed ingredients and salt. Boil well for several minutes. You may also have to add additional water as you don’t want the dal to be too dry.

Finally mix the chopped coriander leaves into the dal and switch off the cooktop.

Optionally you can add additional coriander on top when you serve the dal.


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