Dal (Red Lentil)

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This recipe is for a healthy and simple dal. It is cooked in a very traditional Indian way and is very easy to make. It tastes delicious on its own as a soup or can be enjoyed with rice or naan.


300 gms red split lentils
2 tsp salt
½ tsp turmeric powder
1.2 litres water
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves – finely chopped
1 tomato – finely chopped
½ tsp chilli powder
Handful of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves

Place the lentils, salt, turmeric powder and water in a pan. Cook it on high heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the lentils are cooked.

Heat the oil in a shallow pan. Add the cumin seeds and when they start to change colour add the onion. Cook till lightly golden in colour, add the garlic and cook for further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes to this and mix well. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the tomatoes begin to soften. Now add the chilli powder and coriander leaves. Mix well and serve hot.

Serve with some rice and yogurt or as a soup with some bread.

27 thoughts on “Dal (Red Lentil)”

  1. My husband makes something similar sometimes but I don’t think he includes tomatoes – we’ll give this version a try. Oh and huge thanks again for the wartime potato flatbreads. We’ve talked about them several times since and they’re firmly on our favourites list.

    • My husband makes this with tomatoes and but his mother doesn’t and I can assure you the tomatoes make all the difference! He fries the onions, ginger and tomatoes together until soft then adds it to the lentil mixture. It’s one of my favourite foods. So glad Chetna shared this so more people can enjoy it.

    • Hi Emma, so glad you liked the flatbreads. Give the dal recipe a go as well and let me know if you like it with the tomatoes.

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  9. Hi! I have a question about the oil at the end which sounds like a tadka. I love dal and have tried many times to make the finishing oil at the end, but it is never successful. The spices always burn! Or conversely the oil is not hot enough. Videos always show the spices boiling around in the oil but mine never do. How do you know the oil is the right temperature? Thanks! Made your chicken curry too – it was great!

  10. I really like this recipe, except I think it calls for too much salt. One teaspoon, or just a little more, is sufficient. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can used canned crushed tomatoes or canned finely chopped tomatoes. I usually use extra cumin, because I like it, and less chili because most of my family doesn’t like much.

    • Having used this recipe for several years now, I’ve concluded that even one teaspoon of salt is a bit too much. Start with 3/4 of a teaspoon and go from there.

  11. This is warm, super flavorful, and the absolute best food to eat on a cold day. I love to add extra fresh cilantro to this. Thank you for an amazing recipe!

    • No pressure cooker is needed for this, unless you’re trying to save electricity. In a regular pot, the lentils will be cooked by the time the tadka is finished, if you start them before you do anything else. I imagine you’d need quite a large pressure cooker for this recipe if you wanted to use one, to avoid clogging the vent. 10L might be big enough; I’m not sure.

  12. Helloooo…. I love ur recipes and make sooo many if them! Do u soak the dal before u cook it? I went to cook some w/o soaking and they never got soft. 1 1\2 of cooking. Do they go stale?


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