Easy Dal

"This recipe by Madhur Jaffrey from her cookbook 'An Invitation to Indian Cooking' is North India's most popular dal, and it's eaten with equal relish by toothless toddlers, husky farmers, and effete urban snobs. You can use white urad dal, the salmnon-colored masoor dal, and the large arhar or tovar dal as well. The roasted whole cumin seeds added at the end gives this dish a nice touch. Serve with plain rice and a vegetable for a simple meal. Most meat and chicken dishes go well with this dal."
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Ready In:
1hr 40mins




  • Clean and wash the lentils thoroughly. Put them in heavy-bottomed 3-4 quart pot, add 5 cups water, and bring to a boil. Remove the froth and scum that collects at the top. Now add the garlic, ginger, fresh coriander (or keep it and use it as a garnish at the end), turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Cover, leaving the lid very slightly ajar, lower heat, and simmer gently for about 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionaly. When dal is cooked, add the salt and lemon juice (it should be thicker than pea soup, but thinner than cooked cereal.
  • In a 4-6-inch skillet or small pot, heat the vegetable oil or ghee over a medium-high flame. When hot, add the asafetida and cumin seeds. As soon as the asafetida sizzles and expands and the cumin seeds turn dark (this will take only a few seconds), pour the oil and spices over the dal (lentils) and serve. (Some people put the dal in a serving dish and then pour the oil and spices over it.).
  • To serve: Serve with plain rice and a vegetable for a simple meal. Most meat and chicken dishes go well with this dal. Since some people like to squeeze extra lemon or lime juice on their dal, serve some wedges separately. Note: Finely sliced onion rings, fried until brown and crisp, are often spread over the dal as a garnish before it is served.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I love Indian food but had never made it before tonight. I thought this dish tasted nothing like dal. I have had many different types before but did not like this one...
  2. This was easy to make, and tasted great! I was not able to find asafetida powder, I'll have to make it again when I find some!


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