Dal Fry

By DK on Nov 16, 2011
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
We are, whom you might call as a, "Dal family"! No, not 'cos we have "Dal" as our last name but due to the fact that we love our lentils way too much. Or..err..truthfully that's what I make often enough. Can you blame me if I find it simpler and faster to put together than other side dishes? So, most probably I have made all the types of dal recipes there is! Talk about confidence! If you think, I am mouthing too much, feel free to send me your favorite dal recipes. You know I will def. make them ;)  Coming to this recipe, it is a popular restaurant favorite. I have seen it used interchangeably or at times in the same lines as "Tadka Dal". I personally think they are different albeit minimally. To me, Tadka Dal is about the "Tadka" (duh!) or "Tempering" whereas this is about the richness of the Dal by itself. See, the minute you hear the word "Fry", you think about richness whereas "Tempering" mnemonics something simple, comforting and warm. OK, even to the point of you accusing me of trying too hard to see the difference, I am sticking to my stance :).
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The highlight of this recipe is "Ghee". The generous you make it, generous the taste although a little does add enough dimension to this otherwise simple dal. While the Tadka Dal follows the method of preparing the dal completely along with onions and tomatoes with the tempering poured right before (or while) serving, this dal is all about the tempering acting as a base for the dal instead of just a garnish. I provide the difference to this otherwise twin cousin of Tadka Dal by using a different lentil. I normally use Red Lentils for Tadka Dal whereas I use Pigeon peas for this version. While I compromise on the Ghee when it comes to Tadka Dal by using only oil, Ghee is a must for me when I make this. Pigeon Peas and Ghee is my idea of comfort food. Bliss!
Basic Information
Prep Time: Under 15 min
Cook Time: Under 15 min
Serves: 4 people
    For the Base
  • 1 cup Pigeon Peas (Toor,Tuvar Dal) see Tips
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 3 cups Water
    For the Tempering
  • 2-3 tbsp Ghee, see Tips
  • 1 small-medium Onion (about 1/2 cup), chopped
  • 1 med-large Tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1-2 Dried Red Chilies, or to taste see Tips
  • 2-3 Cloves
  • 1 inch grated Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
  • Curry Leaves and Cilantro to garnish
  • Lemon Juice to taste
  • Salt to taste
1. Pigeon Peas: Different recipes for Dal Fry use different type of Dal. You can use any lentil of your choice - be it Red Lentils (Masoor dal), Skinned Split Green Gram (Moong Dal), Bengal gram (channa dal). I personally use Pigeon peas for this recipe and Red lentil for Dal Tadka. Growing up on Dal rice which is basically cooked pigeon peas mixed with steamed rice and ghee spells comfort to me and this Ghee + dal combo for this recipe reminds me of those days. Hence the preference for this type of dal.
2.Ghee: If you are trying to recreate that Restaurant touch, then I would suggest going for more generous serving of Ghee, say to the likes of 4-5 tbsp. Or if you are really against the usage of Ghee, then use vegetable oil or oil-ghee in 50-50 ratio. But personally for me, Ghee is the main factor which spells this dish as "Dal Fry". Without the Ghee, its just plain Tadka Dal.
3. Red Chillies: You can also use regular Green chillies as per your taste.
Wash the lentil in cold water. Drain well.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
You can either soak the lentil in water for 1-2 hours and then cook over stove top or simply use a pressure cooker. If you are planning the soak and cook method, I would suggest using the water used for soaking for cooking too. Simply add additional water while cooking the lentils. The amount of water for cooking depends on the consistency you like. Start with 2-1/2 to 3 cups for cooking and then add more later if required. I used a pressure cooker to cook my dal with turmeric and 3 cups water.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
About 3 whistles or 10 minutes of cooking should be sufficient.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
While the lentils are cooking, heat a pan. Add Ghee, then cumin, cloves, chillies, ginger, onion and then salt.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
When the onion starts sweating (becomes soft), add the tomatoes and asafoetida. When the tomato is cooked, add the garnish. Set aside.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
Remove the lentils from the pressure cooker. The lentil should be cooked completely. Mushy is good.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
Give it a good stir. If required, warm some more water and add it to the lentils.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
Add the fried onion -tomato mixture to the lentils.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
Stir to combine. Add lemon juice to taste.
Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
Serve this warm with  Chapathi bread, Tortillas, Naan or Steamed Rice. Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites I usually pair it up with Roti(s) and Steamed Rice with additional lemon wedges. I add lemon to all my dal prep since the citrus aids in iron absorption from the lentils. Lentil Recipes | Restaurant Favorites
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24 Responses to “Dal Fry”
  1. RRey

    Made this. Added a 1/2 tsp garam masala as another reviewer suggested. I made the with ghee version. Very very good recipe. Flavors really play together. Delicious! I will try a lower fat version using this recipe as a base as it was so so good!

  2. Lilla

    Can I use moong dahl for this recipe? there are so many different lentils and beans in various languages it can get a little confusing. The photos shown look somewhat like the moong dahl I have.

    These are not Moong Dal (I think this is what you have: Moong Dal Halwa. I am talking about this one – Toor Dal. But all said and done, you can def. make a dal with any of the dals. You can use Moong here in this recipe to good results :)–DK

  3. Kalootta

    I have a slightly different way of cooking this.

  4. Wilma

    I tried this recipe last night and everyone was delighted! (I did go a little over with the salt though… but I know now for next time).
    I might have just found the answer to my prayers with your webpage! I have been married for 6 years with a vegetarian and I have always struggled keeping a balanced diet and variety at the same time. I was going through the page and I am amazed with all the choices! So will keep exploring and trying things out and we’ll see how it goes. In the mean time, thank you!!!

  5. jodie

    We made this today. It was delicious! Hold back on the peppers if you want to serve it to kids w sensitive taste buds. We didn’t have the asafieda and we substituted lime for lemon at the end and it was still delicious. A new staple for Wisconsin winter weather.

  6. Kaizurina

    Hi D, thanks for elaborating on the differnce bw dal fry and dal tadka. Had always wonder what distinguishes one from the other.Your recipe is a must try!!

  7. suman

    this daal is delicious and part of my menu almost daily because my son and hubby love it.

  8. sunitha
  9. pritie

    hey :wink: …. would like to try this receipe.. hope it turn out well… jus wonder how much lemon juice need to be added in there?

    I have mentioned “As per taste”! it could be juice from half a lemon or 2 lemons depending on your taste preference. –DK

  10. thejaswi

    i prepared dal fry today n it tasted really good!!! for a beginner lik me its really a life saver;-)

  11. Rani S

    :) can add a pinch of garam masala for more taste

  12. RH7

    hi dear chefinyou,
    i’ve prepared this dish twice. the first time it turned out to look like yours, yellowish but the second one appeared to be brownish. the measurement of ingredients for both were the same, why please?
    tq maam
    rashid hasan

  13. I love dal fry. This recipe looks very much like my mom would make for us. Delicious and love your blog! :-D

  14. This is my all time favorite dal…Yummm!

  15. Super comforting dal fry..

  16. suchitra

    i put the dal over the tadka,whts the best way to do it?does it alter the taste?

  17. mmm. looks super delicious Dhivya. A tempting dish.

  18. Good tip about lemon.I make a very similar dal which is called Gujrati Dal.Tastes wow with your recipe for cauliflower sabzi(to which I add Broccoli and Baby corn).

  19. Never knew citrus helps in iron absorption. Dal fry looks delicious DK!

  20. RH7

    simple and great dish. thanks dear chef.

  21. i too do the same way. Looks great

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