Dals of India & Indian Dal Recipes
As the popular belief goes, most Indians are vegetarians. The way the vegetarian Indians would get their protein would be through dals. Being vegetarians, dals are the major source of all round nutrition. Even if, non-vegetarian, dal is an integral part of the diet. Find some descriptive Indian dal recipes here. If you make those, do send us photos!
Dals are being consumed in different forms by people around India. In the lower strata of the Indian society; Dal is a staple food. It is the food that when had with rice, is a complete meal.It is also always a part of a proper meal in any house.
The Indian mid-day meals to schools has dals as a major component of the meal. Any private or government canteen would serve a type of a dal in the thali / meal that they would be serving. If you some Indian dal recipes, send us and we would be happy to add them in.
The most common types of Dals consumed across India are:
Toor Daal / Split Pigeon Pea
This is an absolute favourite of mine and possibly the largest consumed dal in India. It is un-beatable in taste and makes the best dal tadka possible. If I do not find anything else, then my go to food would be dal tadka and rice or roti. Sambar is another all time favourite made from this dal. Toor dal has a good amount of carbs and proteins.
Split moong dal
This is the most popular dal cooked across. Split & washed moong is a pale-yellow coloured dal. It does not look very inviting but is part of almost all meals for its nutrients. This dal is very high in protein and low on carbs. It is commonly used for making dals or the seet halwa too. A serving of this dal is common in hospitals for recovering patients. This is seemingly the super food in dals.
Split Bengal Gram / Chana Dal
This dal is related to the chickpea family. Also called Chana dal, it has a unique flavour and is used a lot across India. I have realised that this dal goes well with a fried puri or luchi or a pakwaan across the country. It is part of the chick peas family and is a high source of protein and other nutrients.
Split Masoor Dal / Red lentil
This lentil is a distinct red colour when split. It is again an allrounder to contain good amount of protein and other nutrients.This dal is used by some in Sambar in proportion with the Toor dal. Personally, I prefer to combine this dal with soinach and make dal palak.
Urad dal / Split Black gram
Urad dal or Split Black dal, is used specifically in making Dahiwadas and Meduvadai. When cooked whole, it is black in colour and the iconic Punjabi dish of dal makhni is made from this. Full of fiber, protein and other nutrients
Dal is cooked in a variety of ways across India.
I would be able to classify the dal preparations from North, south, east and west. But, that would go away from my saying that food is not cooked based on region, but it is based on home to home.
I am a big fan of the toor dal and I am listing here my favorite Indian Dal Recipes:
Dal Fry Recipe
Dal fry is the most common dish available in any restaurant and easy to cook and goes well with tandoori roti as well as steamed or Jira fried rice. And so it naturally tops the list of Indian dal recipes.
Pressure cook the amount of toor dal required. In a frying pan, add some oil with jeera or cumin seeds and sliced onions. Sautee and then add some ginger, green chillies and tomatoes along with turmeric, coriander powder and little bit of garam masala. Once onions and tomatoes are cooked well add the dal in and you have your dal tadka ready to serve.
Pressure cook the amount of dal required. In a frying pan, add some ghee / oil and mustard seeds, turmeric powder and hing. Add some curry leaves, green chillies. Sautee a while. Then add the cooked dal in the mixture. Add goda masala, jaggery and soaked tamarind. The quantities are important here, but this gives you a flavour of the dal. I also prefer adding in some grated fresh coconut to add to the bite of the dal.
It is a very common dish across Maharashtrian households made in regular meals and also during festivities. And it is eaten everyday hence has a justified place in the list of Indian dal recipes.
Gujarati Dal Recipe
Another toor based dal preparation which is sweet and tangy. Dal is boiled and then a tadka of mustard seeds,methi seeds, peanuts, curry leaves. Add the dal and mix the jaggery and soaked tamarind in the mixture with salt.
This dal preparation goes well with hot phulkas off the tawa or with steamed rice.
A list of Indian dal preparations cannot get completed without the Sambar recipe. Although south Indian, it is found in almost all hotels across India. This recipe earns it’s position in the Indian dal recipes list.
Sambar is most commonly known for the combination that it provides with Idli, dosa, vada and rice. It is again a spicy and tangy preparation of the dal cooked with a variety of vegetables. The mix of vegetables with dals, induces flavours of each other and creates a heavenly mix.
Veggies in the sambar
I generally add, drumsticks, diced brinjals, diced pumpkin or bottle gourd and potatoes in the mix of vegetables. Once these are cooked in oil separately, add the Sambar powder, some red chilli powder and pressure cooked and mashed toor dal. Bring it to a boil and then add the soaked tamarind water. Add the salt. Add water to the level of consistency desired.
This recipe sounds straight forward but requires a lot of precision to get the right taste. I have had sambar at a lot of South Indian friends from various states in south India. All have their unique flavours attached to this preparation.
Find the detailed Tidali dal recipe in this article
I make this dal using the red lentils or the split masoor dal.
Wash & Chop the Palak in to large pieces and keep it aside. Pressure cook the dal for 3 whistles. Mash the dal after the cooker opens.
In a frying pan add some oil. After warming the oil, add a tea spoon of mustard seeds followed by a couple of teaspoons of ginger paste. Add a small bit of hing and turmeric. I add a little bit of Dry mango powder to add the tangy flavour you could add some soaked tamarind too.
Add the chopped palak and let the palak wilt just a little and add the mashed dal. Add the salt and the dal is ready to serve.
I like the consistency of this dal to be a little watery so I add half a cup of water to this and boil again.
It’s made all across India with some changes in spices and type of dal. The India dal recipes list would be incomplete without this quick addition.
Cholar dal Recipe
Cholar dal is made of chana dal / split Bengal gram. It’s a thicker dal preparation than the regular. A unique blend of spices mixed in the tadka.
Pressure cook the dal for 2-3 whistles. The dal should be soaked for over 4 hours, else increase the number of whistles. Slightly away from the panchphoron, this dal is tempered with bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, red chilli powder. Add the cooked dal in the mixture and add salt and sugar to it. The sweetness of the dish is what is important in this one.
You could add dry fruits like raisins and cashews too. Fresh grated coconut is also a good idea. Top it off with a spoon full of ghee.
Dal Makhani Recipe
This is the queen of dals in looks and taste. The Indian dal recipes list would be incomplete without this ending it!
It is made from a mix Whole Black Urad dal mixed with the unbeatable Rajma.
Very popular in the dhabas and restaurants across the world. There are various versions which you will find across the internet of this magnificent dal with subtle variations to make it better always.
The version I like is a very simple one. Soak both dals together overnight, they require a longer period of soaking. A cup of whole Urad and ¼ cup of Rajma.
Pressure cook the dals together for about 6-7 whistles in 2.5 cups of water. Grind a few tomatoes to paste. In a pan add ghee / butter / oil based on your preference. Add bay leaves, cloves, black pepper corn, Black cardamom, a cinnamon stick, 1 large tablespoon of garlic / ginger paste. and add the ground tomatoes. Cook till the oil separates. Add the cooked dal and and boil. Add some fresh cream and you are ready to go.
The best way to cook this dal would ideally be slow cooking it for a few hours.
Tell us how you like these recipes. If you have a dal recipe that’s not listed here, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature it.