Garlicky Dal (Savory Lentils)

READY IN: 1hr 5mins
Recipe by kusum gupta

From Recipes with a Spice - Indian Cuisine for Balanced Nutrition' by Kusum Gupta This dal is the perfect accompaniment to spicy vegetables, bread and rice. Use any kind of lentils. One of the favorites is a mix of split green & yellow Mung and split reddish Masoor. When cooked, dry dal becomes almost 4 times in volume. Serve it hot when well mixed and of semi-liquid consistency. It can be refrigerated or frozen.

Top Review by Moyni

This was exactly what I was looking for. Not sure what type of dal I used (small green/grey and split - they were unlabeled in a jar at the back of the cupboard). I put them with the boiling water in a slow cooker for about 4hrs. Just the right amount of zing from the spices, chilli and garam masala. A keeper for sure. Thanks.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Pick over dry dal for grit; rinse a couple of times and drain.
  2. Bring to boil about 3 cups water in a 2-quart saucepan.
  3. Add dal to hot water.
  4. Stir in salt and turmeric powder.
  5. (Water can boil over when dal is added; lower the heat as needed.) Partially cover and simmer on medium heat until dal is tender, 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. (Add hot water depending on the consistency desired.) Note: Split dal can be cooked in a slow cooker[2 to 3 hours] or in a pressure cooker for about 10 minutes.
  7. To sauté, heat the oil in a small skillet on medium heat.
  8. Add cumin seeds; as soon as they change color (few seconds), add garlic and onions.
  9. Stir, sprinkling little water if needed, until onions are golden brown.
  10. Add ginger and remaining seasonings (except tomatoes and garam masala); stir for a couple of minutes.
  11. Add tomatoes and cook for another minute.
  12. 5.
  13. Mix the sautéed seasonings into the cooked dal and continue cooking on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes until dal is thickened.
  14. Add garam masala.
  15. 6.
  16. Serve hot, garnished with green coriander.
  17. Optionally sprinkle lemon juice.
  18. Variation 1: Use brown lentils, peeled yellow Mung, peeled light yellow Urad, or split dark yellow Toor (or a mix of them).
  19. They take about 3 cups of water to 1 cup of dry dal and only 30 to 40 minutes to cook.
  20. Variation 2: Use whole green Mung, whole black Urad, whole dark brown Masoor, whole yellow brownish Toor, or split yellow Chana (or a mix of them).
  21. They take 3 to 4 cups of water to 1 cup of dry dal and longer to cook (about 1 hour).
  22. (Takes 4 to 5 hours in slow cooker, 25 minutes in pressure cooker.) Healthy Alternative: Add some vegetable stock or 3 tablespoons of Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) when dal is half cooked.

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