Mamta's Kitchen

How To Recognize & Cook A Few Common Indian Dals (Lentil)-A Collection of Dal Recipes

Dal (Lentil) Identification and Recipes

Reeta Kumar

There are many different lentils eaten in India. Each takes a different time to cook, from minutes to up to an hour. If you eat lentils regularly, I would recommend buying a pressure cooker. It makes cooking much quicker and easier.

Do remember that there are many variants in the cooking of a dal. For example, quality of the lentils, softness of water, whether the dal was soaked or not (soaked dals take a little less time), the intensity of heat and the efficiency of your pressure cooker, will all make a difference. It will get easier as you cook more dals. Remember that if undercooked, you can cook a dal some more but you can't do much with overcooked dal*.

The amount of dal required per person depends on whether you are serving the dal with roti or with rice. Roughly 1 cupped hand per person is usually enough. Rice requires more dal. If you cook dal regularly, I would recommend that you get a pressure cooker. It saves on time and fuel. Also, get a large one, because you can cook small amount in it, but not the other way around (large amount in a small cooker). Remember, cooker must not be filled more than about 1/3rd, it needs room for pressure to build. If you follow instructions, pressure cooker is quite safe to cook in. After all, every Indian uses it almost every day! Serves 4


  • 200 gm. dal of choice

  • Salt to taste

  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

  • Water to boil the dal. See each dal for amount

  • Other additions to dals can be

  • Finely chopped coriander leaves, added after cooking is finished

  • A handful of dry methi (fenugreek leaves) or a bunch of chopped, fresh methi leaves

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. garam masala

  • 2-3 khatai slices (dry, raw mango slices) or a chunky slice of lemon, added during cooking

  • Ingredients for basic tarka:

  • 2-3 tbsp. ghee or oil. Ghee tastes better but oil is healthier.

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • A large pinch of asafoetida powder

  • 2-3 whole red chillies broken up

  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder

  • For other types of tarka, see notes below


  1. General Instructions for all dals:

  2. Wash dal well before cooking.

  3. If cooking whole dals, soak in water for a couple of hours or overnight.

  4. The amounts of water to cook a dal is less for pressure cooker. Add extra water when cooking without a pressure cooker, as it has to boil longer. DALS SHOULD BE SOFT, BUT NOT MUSHY WHEN READY.

  5. Add salt and turmeric during the boiling stage.

  6. Cooking Different dals:

  7. Arhar or Tuvar/Toor Dal/Pigeon Peas /Red Gram Dal

  8. Butter Dal Makhani - 1 (Kidney Beans & Black Gram)

  9. Butter Dal Makhani - 2 (Kidney Beans & Black Gram)

  10. Chana Dal or Skinless Split Bengal Gram

  11. Chana dal With Lauki/Bottle Gourd

  12. Channa And Mung Dal With Kasoori Methi

  13. Chana Dal With Palak/Spinach

  14. Chana Dal with Snake Gourd (Chachinda)

  15. Chana Dal and Urid/Urad Dal Mixed 50/50

  16. Channa-Urad Dal Mixed With Spinach In Slow Cooker

  17. Dal Bati (Dumplings in Mixed Dal

  18. Dhansak or Parsee Dal with Chicken

  19. Dhansak or Parsee Dal with Chicken - A Quick Version

  20. Dhansak or Parsee Dal with Lamb (A Quick Version)

  21. Dhansak or Parsee Dal, with Vegetables 1

  22. Dhansak or Parsee Dal with Vegetables 2

  23. Khitcheri, A Rice and Lentil Mix

  24. Masoor dal Dhuli or Common Red lentil

  25. Masoor Whole or Brown/Green/Puy Lentil

  26. Mung Dal Split, with Skin

  27. Mung/Moong Dal Split, Skinless

  28. Mung/Moong Dal Khitcheri, Bengali

  29. Mung/Moong Dal Khitcheri, North Indian

  30. Mung/Moong Dal Skinless Dry, as a Snack

  31. Mung/Moong Dal with Spinach

  32. Mung/Moong Dal Whole

  33. Panch Ratan - Five Jewels Dal (Mixed Lentils)

  34. Rasam South Indian Lentil Soup

  35. Red lentil or Masoor dal Dhuli

  36. Sambhar

  37. Tarka dal 1

  38. Tarka dal 2

  39. Urad/Urid Dal Mixed with Chana Dal

  40. Urad/Urid Dal with Methi (Fenugreek) Leaves

  41. Urad/Urid Whole (Black Gram)

  42. Urad/Urid Dal (Split Black Gram), with Skin

  43. Urad Dal (Split Black Gram), Skinless

  44. Urad Dal Skinless (Split Black Gram), Cooked with Whole Spices

  45. Basic tarka or tempering:

  46. Heat ghee or oil in a tarka ladle (from Indian store) or a small pan, until smoking hot. Cast iron Indian ladle gives a nicer flavour. Ghee tastes better but oil is fine too.

  47. Add cumin and asafoetida powder and let the seeds start to splutter. If the oil/ghee is properly heated, this happens within seconds. Add whole chillies and chilli powder, stir with a small spoon, add to the cooked dal and cover with a lid immedialtely. This infuses the flours and gives a nice, 'smoky' aroma to the dal. Leave the lid one.

  48. Other variations of tarkas or tempering:

  49. 1. Heat oil. Add 1 tsp. mustard. Add a 10-12 curry leaves, 1 broken up dry red chillie and 1/4 tsp. chilli powder. Pour over dal and close the lid. Or 2. Curry sauce type tempering/tarka; Heat oil, add 1 tsp. cumin seeds, add 1 chopped onion and fry until golden brown. Add 2-3 chopped tomatoes and 2 tsp. Curry Powder or Sambhar Powder. Fry until oil separates. Add to dal. Or 3. Heat oil. Add a little grated ginger and/or garlic, fry until beginning to turn golden brown and then add 1 tsp. cumin/mustard seeds. When seeds splutter/crackle, add 2-3 dry whole chillies and 1 tsp. chilli powder. Pour over the dal. Close the lid, to infuse flavors. Or 4. After spluttering the cumin/mustard seeds, add 1 tsp. each of grated ginger and garlic, fry until browned, add to dal. No chillies in this version.


  • *Overcooked or left over dal can be added to roti or chapatti flour when making a dough. They makes delicious roti and paratha. For parathas, you have to add a little more salt and spices, and perhaps a teasppon of carom or ajwain seeds.

  • You can add chopped coriander leaves to all dals as a garnish.

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