Five-Lentil Stew (Panch Dal)

"From North India. If you're like me & enjoy experimenting, go to the nearest Indian store (or online) & order up as many kinds of dal as you can & then find ways to use them! This was posted on a vegetarian website & I like the recipe so I swiped it to share here. Once you have the ingredients, it's a breeze to make! **The 2 hour soak time is NOT included in the cook time**"
photo by Katzen photo by Katzen
photo by Katzen
photo by magpie diner photo by magpie diner
photo by stingo photo by stingo
Ready In:
1hr 15mins




  • Rinse dals. Bring water to boil in large pot. Add dals, stir, and bring back to boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 2 hours.
  • Add turmeric and cayenne to dal and bring water to boil. Reduce heat slightly and simmer until dal is tender, approximately 35 minutes.
  • 10-15 minutes before dal is ready, begin cooking spice mixture. Heat oil in heavy skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and garlic and fry 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add cumin and garam masala and cook another minute. Add tomatoes and salt and cook until tomatoes have been reduced, approximately 10 minutes.
  • Add onion mixture to dal and stir well. Cook 2-3 minutes more to blend flavors. Taste for salt and adjust seasoning.
  • Serve hot in one large bowl or in individual-sized bowls with chapati or naan.

Questions & Replies

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  1. I've never made indian food before, never made dal, although I have used lentils. This was my first endeavour into the world of indian food, and what a great recipe to choose for it! I found "mix dal" at my local asian store, and happlily, it had all of the required lentils, so I used 1 1/4 cups of this mix. I took magpie's advice, and doubled the tumeric and cayenne in the lentil mix, because when I tasted it after soaking and halfway through cooking, I couldn't really make out the spices very well. I also found that when the lentils were finished cooking, they were pretty soupy (and I know this is stew), but (don't laugh), I strained out some of the water, and was really pleased with the end result! In fact, when making again, I would start with 4 cups of water because I think I removed about a cup. The flavours are wonderful, and the good news is that I'll be continuing my journey into curry after this successful dish! Thanks, Elmotoo! Made for Veggie Swap 21.
  2. I make a lot of dal recipes, but have never made one with such a variety of lentils in one dish. This is really great! I knew that my lentils would be sitting nearly all day in water, so I didn't soak the masoor dal (red lentils) since they are such quick cookers. I also used wholo chana dal (chickpeas), wasn't sure if you meant the split sort or not. In any case, it worked out fine (they soaked for a good 6 hours). I always love that tomato/onion/spice mixture, could just eat that by itself it's so good. Once you added it to the big pot of lentils though, the spices got a little lost, so I doubled up on them (cumin & garam masala). If you like lentil curries, you'll like this!! Thanks Elmotoo! Made for Veg*n swap Dec09.
  3. I had my doubts about this recipe, but having tasted the finished product, I can put those doubts to rest. A very nice complex dish, where each ingredient contributes to the betterment of the whole. I was wondering if soaking for two hours was too long, or if I was using proper sized onion and tomatoes, but I think I made the right choices. I followed the recipe directions with regard to the soak, and used a white onion as well as two big beefsteak tomatoes. To be honest I could've eaten the onion/tomato mixture on its own, but combining it with the lentils was really good. For their small size, the taste of the lentils really cuts through the onion/tomato, which is as it should be. Recommended.
  4. This is really good- and super easy to make as well. Doesn't get better than that. I doubled the recipe so that we'd have extra for lunches during the week. The only changes I made was to leave out the oil and use a non-stick pan along with some oil spray and added a bit more cayene. Thanks for posting, I will make this again for sure. Made for the Nov 08 veggie swap.
  5. I loved it--the smells that filled the house were wonderful. I had this with a potato cauliflower curry -- a great meal.


  1. Tasty flavours. I toned the heat down per preference by using less cayenne pepper powder. I also used less water as some other reviewers even though I served this as a pretty thick soup. I discarded my soaking water and added some fresh water before cooking the pulses which I ended up soaking more than 2 hours after bringing to a boil. I used 1 less amount of dal as I only had 4 kinds on hand. I used whole chickpeas, mung beans, red lentils, & yellow split peas, butter instead of oil or ghee which I didn't have, for the flavour, ground cumin, recipe#279714, good quality canned plum tomatoes, sea salt, plus the rest of the ingredients. Made for VIP of the month in Veggie Swap 36 ~ July 2011.



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