Dal: a recipe from India

Dal is served in many regions of India, with many variations. All of them are an absolute delight, and in most cases they are gluten free and vegan, so I tried to cook it on my own! It is very easy and I've been really happy about the result since the first attempt.

I am sharing this recipe that I learned from our hosts in Varanasi. I totally recommend the experience! If you are interested in a local cooking course, I highly suggest to book a couple of nights at the Homestay, where the owner Harish and her wife Malika create a very special environment for their guests. Dinner becomes a community experience, and Malika is often available to offer classes while she's cooking for all the guests.

Cooking Dal at home is a joy because it reminds me of that great experience!

Ingredients (3-4 servings)

  • 250 gr Mung Beans (Mung Dal)
  • 50 gr Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal) or Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 small tomato (chopped)
  • 2 garlic cloves (thinly chopped)
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1 green chili (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil (or ghee)
  • Spices: 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp red chili, 1 tsp turmeric
  • Water: 800 ml cold + 400 ml boiling water
  1. Soak in the legumes for 1 hour.
  2. Drain well, then transfer in a big pot with the cold water. Boil with salt, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat, add the boiling water and leave to rest.
  4. In the meantime, pour the oil in a small frying pan, turn on the heat and cook the cumin seeds first, until brown. Add the garlic, onion, tomato, curry leaves, green chili and the spices. Cook until golden.
  5. Place the pot with the dals over medium heat, then add the golden brown mixture. Mix well and serve immediately.

TIPS: The original recipe also contains 1 tsp of asafoetida, to be added together with the other spices. However, since it is not gluten free, I had to remove it completely from the ingredients. Serve Dal together with other Indian dishes, or simply with basmati rice. Cook the rice with a few cardamon seeds and cloves for a more aromatic result.

Have you tried it? Do you have any suggestions? Leave your comment!