Empress Dal

"This dal is exceptionally simple to make (there is no tempering oil as with some others), yet the flavors are very full. Dried mango powder (you can also use lemon juice) gives it a sourness that balances the meaty taste of the lentils. This is traditionally made with a brown lentil (sabut masoor dal) that is exactly the same as the pink lentil (dhuli masoor dal), but with the brown hull still attached. The hull gives the lentil a terrific meaty texture; French green lentils (lentilles de Puy) are an excellent substitution. Recipe is from Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness’ Indian Home Cooking."
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Ready In:




  • Combine the oil, cumin, red chiles and turmeric in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic or asafetida, lentils, cayenne, and mango powder, if using, (if using lemon juice instead, stir in at the end), and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  • Add the water and salt, bring to a boil and skim well.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, covered , until the lentils are soft, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Add more water during cooking if necessary. Taste for salt and add more if you need to.
  • Ladle about ½ cup of the lentils into a small bowl and mash them with a spoon.
  • Return the mashed lentils to the pot and give the dal a stir. Then continue cooking at a simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to thicken.
  • If you like a thicker dal, use a whisk to break up the lentils into a puree. If you like a thinner dal, add more water. Stir in the lemon juice, if using. Serve hot.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Great! I doubled the spices and added two potatoes and a head of cauliflower. Thanks!
  2. This dal really does deserve all five stars for being truly simple to make. There are certainly other dals with a much more spectacular flavor, but this particular version is a perfect "have often" meal.
  3. Very good dal. I used yellow dal (don't know the name!!!) and found that I needed to cook a bit longer. The flavor is lovely- especially of the dried red chilies. Super simple, definitely will make it again. I do want to try it with the lemon- that sounds really good.
  4. I cooked this halving all the ingredients and it makes a very tasty dal. First class.



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