may 11, 2020

Meghna’s Dal at Home

Dal is commonly thought of as lentils, but it more accurately refers to split varieties of peas (like Pigeon or Black Eyed), beans (like Mung or Kidney), and lentils (like Masoor or Urad). With your legume of choice, a few spices, and fresh alliums on hand, you can easily make a delicious variety of dal at home in just about an hour.
Instructor Meghna Agarwal’s Toor Dal is a must-have dish for your repertoire. Read on for the recipe...
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Toor Dal

Lentils Cooked with Ghee

Author Meghna Agarwal

Dal is hearty and comforting at any time of year, and you can cook a big batch to serve throughout the week. The flavors just keep getting better! Add additional vegetables if you like; just cook them along with the onions until tender. If you don't have tamarind, substitute some fresh lime or lemon juice at the end of cooking to replace its tangy taste.

Yield   6 to 8 servings


2 cups (1 lb/454g) toor dal (split pigeon peas), soaked in cool water for at least 2 hours

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

2-inch piece dried tamarind (optional)


3 tablespoons ghee

2 tablespoon cumin seeds

A pinch of heeng (asafoetida)

2 dried whole Indian red chillies, broken into pieces

4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced

2 small red onions, chopped small

10 oz. (2 to 3 medium) tomatoes, coarsely chopped

Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (optional)

Chopped cilantro to garnish


Rinse and drain the soaked lentils, then add them to a heavy, large pot along with 6 cups water. Add the turmeric, tamarind and 1 teaspoon salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook for 45 to 60 minutes. Stir periodically to make sure the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pot. (Alternatively, cook them in a pressure cooker.) Once the lentils are soft and mushy, turn the heat down to a bare simmer.
In the meantime, heat the ghee in a skillet. Once very hot, add the cumin, heeng and dry chillies. Be careful as it may splatter. Add the chopped garlic and stir for about 30 seconds. Add the onions and cook until they are soft and slightly browned, then add the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are soft, add the mixture to the cooked lentils. Season to taste with salt and lemon or lime juice.
Serve hot, garnished with cilantro.