How to Cook Dahl Lentils


Dahl, dal or daal can refer to lentils, split peas or other beans Indian cooks use in recipes or it can refer to the type of dahl dish in which the legumes are used. India's vast sub-continent includes regions with different dahl recipes including Arhar dahl and Gujarti dahl. With dahl, it's all about the spices. Prepare lentils, such as red lentils, for any dahl recipe in the same way, and add different spices and vegetables to create a specific dahl lentil recipe.

Things You'll Need

  • "Arhar Dal"
  • Large stew pot
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 7 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Small sauté pan
  • 2 tbsp. ghee
  • 2 tbsp. each onion seeds, fenugreek seeds, aniseeds, cumin seeds and mustard seeds
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 fresh whole green chilies
  • 2 dried broken red Chilies
  • Cooked white basmati rice
  • "Gujarati Dal"
  • 1 cup dried split red gram lentils
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp. ghee
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1/8 tsp. asafoetida
  • 7 curry leaves
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup tamarind water
  • Large serving bowl
  • 3 to 4 coriander leaves, finely chopped

Arhar Dal

  • Soak 1 cup red lentils in water for 30 minutes. Cook the split red lentils in a large stew pot in 3 cups of water with salt, sugar and turmeric. Simmer over medium heat.

  • Add 1/2 tsp. ginger and all of the ground cumin to cooked lentils. Simmer the mixture until thickened and remove from heat.

  • Melt all of the ghee -- clarified butter -- in a sauté pan. Add the seeds mixture. Heat until the mustard seeds crackle.

  • Add bay leaves, remaining ginger, salt to taste and chilies to the sautéed seeds. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the dal. Serve over basmati rice.

Gujarati Dal

  • Soak 1 cup split red gram lentils in water for 30 minutes. Cook soaked split red gram lentils in a large stew pot in 3 cups of water with salt and turmeric for 30 minutes.

  • Cook the seasonings while the lentils simmer. Add cumin, mustard seeds and asafetida to melted ghee in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Stir in curry leaves, green chilies and ground coriander. Cook for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.

  • Combine the sautéed seasoning mixture with the simmering lentils. Add the cloves and cinnamon to the pot. Cook for 5 minutes before adding sugar and tamarind water. Simmer for 5 more minutes.

  • Pour the prepared Gujarati dal into a large serving bowl. Garnish with the coriander leaves. Serve at the table with hot white basmati rice.

Tips & Warnings

  • Try other dahl creations like Sukhi dahl or Toor dahl.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/ Images
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