Basic Tempering for Dals

"Pulses - dried beans, split peas and lentils are a staple in India and provide protein for families who eat meat rarely or are vegetarian. (It has as much protein as a steak) They are versatile and combine beautifully with any meal. Can be had as a soup too. Though pulses can cause flatulence and cannot be stored for long once cooked this can be countered by using ginger/ asafoetida/ turmeric while cooking. (but we do not consume it after one day even if stored in the fridge - some others do but I have my own ways) They are a must atleast at one meal of the day."
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Ready In:
1hr 10mins




  • Wash pulses.
  • Soak whole pulses overnight or soak in boiling hot water for 20 mins.
  • Split/unhusked pulses can be soaked in cold water for 30 mins before cooking.
  • Use the same water for cooking in which the pulses have soaked.
  • Add a little salt, turmeric powder and ginger and garlic (if used) I add an onion and tomato too while cooking if I am not using these in the tempering or sometimes even if I am there is no limit to the permutations and combinations once you get the hang of it.
  • Spinach, pumpkin, beans and many more veges can be added while cooking.
  • Also can add a little oil or ghee to speed up the cooking and keep the dals from frothing.
  • Pressure cook for 1 whistle and then reduce heat for 1-7 mins for split beans (red and yellow lentils for eg. cook a little faster than red and yellow gram) and pressure cook and then reduce heat for 30- 45 mins for whole dals.
  • Well cooked and blended dals taste better.
  • Take off heat and wait for all steam to escape.
  • You can cook them on the stove top too- simmer till done.
  • But they cook faster in the Cooker.
  • Method for Tomato Onion Baghar (Temper) (Just omit ingredients for the Cumin Coriander baghar) Now heat the oil/ clarified butter in a small fry pan or vessel.
  • Reduce heat and add cumin seeds.
  • When it turns golden (do not burn them) add onion.
  • Cook till onion turns brown.
  • Do not undercook the onions.
  • Brown them, stirring all the time.
  • Add tomatoes and cook 2-3 minutes Add coriander, raw mango powder (if not avalable then omit and add 2 tsp of lime juice to the dal after tempering and garnishing with coriander leaver (cilantro)), and garam masala.
  • Cook for 1/2 a minute.
  • Remove from fire and add the green chillies and the red chilli powder.
  • Pour tempering over the hot dal and mix gently.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro.
  • Note for Split red lentils you can add chopped garlic while tempering after you add the cumin and then brown them too.
  • THe more garlic the merrier for me but then you can use your discretion.
  • For the Asafoetida Mustard baghar Fry the asafoetida till brown in the hot oil and then add the mustard seeds.
  • Fry till they crackle.
  • Remove from fire and add the red chillies and curry leaves.
  • Mix and add to the cooked dal.
  • Try it and enjoy this item which is a must at every Indian household and the variations that one can introduce.
  • I can make over 50 types of dal (tastewise) and I am still counting.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Inge 1505
    I am so happy I found this recipe! I love dals, but being european, I never felt confident enough to spice them on my own, thus sticking to a handful of well-liked recipes. - Your wonderful instruction already was and will be in future a great basis to work on my "own" dal creations. _ My first try was mung dal and 3 oz spinach (left out garlic)tempered with tomato onion baghar. YUM!! Thanks so much. :)
  2. Geema
    Yummy. I used the Cumin-Coriander Baghar Temper with lentils and it was sooo delicious with my adventurous addition of some garlic, onions and chopped spinach. The instructions confused me a little and I wasn't quite sure when to add the ingredients to the lentils, so I just precooked the lentils, then added them to the skillet after cooking the spices, onions and spinach. Then I covered the pan and turned the heat to low for just a few minutes more to blend all the flavors. I love the spices! Sure do wish I had some mango powder, but had to leave that out. Fay, I have always loved Indian cuisine, and now I can make something truly authentic and delicious...Thanks.


<p>Am an avid baker and love cooking too. Live in Mumbai, India.</p>
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