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How to make daal

Updated on April 10, 2016

Easy peasy daal (lentil soup)

This is an easy introductory recipe to Indian food. Not everyone likes spicy food and this is a perfect solution for those veggie and non spicey lovers (although meat lovers will love this too).

Daal (also spelled dhal, dal or dahl) translated literally is a lentil dish which is commonly found in Indian, Pakistani, Bengali, Nepali and Sri Lankan Cuisine. It is regularly eaten by vegetarian and non vegetarians alike in the Indian sub continent. Daal is a lentil stew which is prepared from dried and then washed lentils which then is boiled and stewed till tender with addition of a few spices.

Daal is considered peasant food in South Asian countries as many poor families have this as a staple meal with rotis (flat bread) and rice. Daal is inexpensive and has many nutritional benefits with a high protein content it is particularly beneficial to pure vegetarians. It is high in Iron which is good for the prevention of anaemia which can be a concern for non meat eaters. Also high in fibre which helps in weight loss, regulates blood sugar levels and cholesterol.

There are many variations of this recipe as there are many types of daals (lentils). So I'll give you a brief introduction to the many daals available which can be mixed and matched and swapped around depending on your adventurous mood.

Masoor Daal (Red Lentils)
Masoor Daal (Red Lentils)

Masoor Daal

My Favourite!

Masoor Daal - Split Red Lentils are flat and salmon pink in colour but turn yellow and mushy once cooked.

It's versatile and can be used in hearty soups, vegetable casseroles and meat stews. It gives a smooth texture to a dish and bulks up any meal.

Moong Daal
Moong Daal

Moong Daal

Can be used as substitute for Masoor Daal.

Moong Dal - Yellow Split Moong Lentils are small like a grain of rice, smooth, shiny and hard to touch. They are super fast to cook and melts quickly into a soup with no pre-soaking required.

Commonly used in Khichidi an Indian equivalent to a risotto.

Toor Daal
Toor Daal

Toor Daal

Good for weekends when you have more time on your hands.

Toor Daal is light golden colour split pea it is hard to touch and has a oily coating. Needs soaking at least 3-6 hours and has a slight nutty flavour. Unlike Masoor or Moong Daal above this daal doesn't lose its shape easily.

Perfect with spinach or in stews as it can with hold long cooking periods without turning into mush.

Urad Daal

Great for fritters

Urad Dal - white in colour once de husked (black with skin on). Preferable soak overnight or at least 4 hours to help the cooking process. Urad dal does not necessarily have to make savoury dishes it can make indian desserts such as ladoo or jalebi.

Top Daal Health Benefits - Daal packs a punch when it comes to healthy eating

  1. High in insoluble and soluble fibre which regulates blood sugar levels key for diabetics.
  2. High in Magnesium which helps the heart to relax and improves blood flow which in turn means more oxygen and nutrients circulate around the body better.
  3. Great for losing weight. Lentils are ow in calories however leaves you feeling full.
  4. Lowers cholesterol again great for diabetics.
  5. Great source of protein and iron perfect for non meat eaters getting high energy without the animal fat content.

Why I Love Daal so much!

Daal is a real hearty dish, cheap and easy to make I find it very comforting and nostalgic. We were pretty fussy eaters as kids and knew what we liked and we wouldn't even try but this dish we had throughout our childhood years and it's still a dish I will knock up a few times a month. It is a go to dish when you don't have much in the fridge and just want a quick meal with no fuss and hardly any effort. All of the ingredients are usually found lying around in your cupboards or pantry so there is no need to make a mad dash to the supermarket for a rare ingredient which you're likely to use once. The ingredients used are everyday ingredients and that's why I like recipes like daal it's polite won't get in the way, won't disrupt your day and you got everything you need right at home kinda recipe.

I will start with my moms recipe which I grew up with and which I think is the easiest with minimul ingredients. I will add more recipes so keep your eyes peeled!

Tarka Daal Recipe

My Mom's recipe, Sunshine in a bowl!

Preparation time 5 mins cooking time 30 mins

Serves 2


1 cup Masoor Dal (Red Split Lentils) or Moong Dal

1 Bay Leaf

1/2 Onion diced finely

1 tsp Salt

tip of tsp worth of Turmeric powder or pinch if you prefer to get your hands dirty.

For Garnish:

1/2 Onion diced finely

2 Cloves Garlic finely sliced

1 tbsp worth of fresh Coriander chopped

1. Soak lentils in bowl of water for at least 15 mins before use this softens the lentils, which quickens the cooking time and also helps get rid of the starch (you can skip this step if you really don't have time).

2. Wash lentils few times till water is not so cloudy. This gets rid of the excess starch in the lentils.

3. Once washed place in deep pan and pour enough water to cover lentils and have excess water of roughly 1 inch above lentils. (How to measure one inch of water? If the water reaches first mark on your finger when sticking in you index finger whilst touching lentils then this is enough). This recipe is truly by eye if you need more water add as you go along.

4. Add turmeric, salt, bay leaf and half of the finely chopped onion. Put pan on a medium heat and leave it to gently boil. Stir occassionally.

3. Whilst lentils are boiling till tender get your garnish ingredients ready. In a skillet or any large frying pan add couple table spoons of oil and add remaining onion and garlic and fry gently till golden brown. This frying of onions and garlic till brown is called 'tarka'.

4. Continuously stir and toss ingredients in pan around as garlic will likely to burn fast if left unattended and will taste bitter. Take skillet off the heat once onions and garlic have browned and put aside.

5. Check lentils are soft, if you see that lentils are too dry add more water till the consistency resembles thick soup. Take out bay leaf and blitz lentils with hand blender, alternatively whisk with manual whisk. Be careful not to scold yourself.

6. Once lentils are smooth transfer to serving bowl add fried onions, garlic and top with fresh chopped coriander.

5. Serve hot with naan and traditional Indian pickle. Delish!

**Once you're confident enough why not mix masoor dal with moong dal half and half.**

All you need

Proctor Silex 59735 Immersion Hand Blender, White
Proctor Silex 59735 Immersion Hand Blender, White

Keeps up with your fast pace of life.


Daal Recipe featured on UKTV

Leave your comments here Daalings! - Have you tried daal? Do you have a favourite indian dish that you would like me to feature? Drop a line in the box all feed

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    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

       Impressive! The mixtures of recipes were wonderful! But I recommend to glance some recipes at (Daal Puri). You will find more excellent recipes that you were certainly admire. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      tasty recipe of daal .i liked

    • profile image

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      Your mom's recipe looks very simple and tasty. Definitely need to try it. My favourite takeaway meal is dhansak, full of lentilly loveliness!

    • asiliveandbreathe profile image

      asiliveandbreathe 7 years ago

      I love using daal and beans, and always have some in the cupboard so I can make a quick and nutritious meal. Have lensrolled this lens to my Meal of the Month Part3

    • profile image

      jgelien 7 years ago

      I saw someone make daal on a cooking competition and it looked so yummy that I wanted to try it. Thank you for providing the recipe.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Very good lens! I ate dahl (or dal or daal or ... yeah) twice a day for nearly three months this past summer in Nepal. I liked it very much, but I do admit that I was very happy to NOT eat it for a while when I came home to the U.S.

    • Enigmaa8 profile image

      Enigmaa8 7 years ago

      @CrossCreations: This is a sure winner with no spices just a hint of turmeric which just adds colour and has many medicinal properties such as antibacterial, antiseptic and strengthens the stomach. :)

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      No, I have never tried daal but I live with someone who cannot handle spicey foods so maybe I'll try it.