Recipe: Dal – Basic Recipe

Summary: This is basic dal instructions–nothing fancy.


  • 1 1/2 cup of brown lentils or lentils of your choice yellow, red, etc.
  • 3 cup of broth or salted water


  1. Dal is an East Indian dish made with legumes such as lentils and split peas. Neither lentils nor split peas require pre-soaking and will cook in about one and a quarter hours. Red lentils cook much faster.
  2. Instructions for preparing ingredients:
  3. If the recipes are increased or decreased remember that the amount of liquid should be twice that of the lentils or peas. All ingredients are recommended amounts and can be adjusted according to taste except for the ratio of liquid to legumes.
  4. Sorting and washing the legumes is a little time consuming, but absolutely necessary. You can spread them out on a large cookie sheet and pick out the stones and bits of foreign matter like barley which you may find or you can pour a few into your hand and sort them. Toss the stones and so forth away and place the legumes in your strainer. A large strainer is best for the purpose of washing so that you can put all the legumes in it at once and not have them spilling out into your sink. Place strainer under a stream of cold water and agitate the legumes with your hand. You want to wash them thoroughly.
  5. If you use dried peppers, you should mash them a bit. A mortar and pestle works well. A suribachi can be used, but you’ll find that it is a bit hard to get the grooves clean and the flavor of the peppers will cling to whatever else you prepare in the suribachi at a later time. Three peppers are enough to taste the heat without being overwhelmed. If you like your food real spicy add more, but I wouldn’t use less unless you really don’t like spicy food at all. If you are using fresh jalapeno peppers you might want to use only two.
  6. The amount of cilantro you use depends on how familiar you are with the taste of cilantro. This is a green leafy vegetable that looks like Italian parsley. It is used quite a bit in salsa and in Indian recipes. Cilantro has a strong flavor.
  7. If you are serving the dal with rice you’ll want to start the rice in enough time for it to be cooked by the time the dal is ready to eat. When you start it will depend on the kind of rice you use. Basmati is the best rice for this dish and takes about fifteen minutes to prepare. See rice instructions for preparation details.
  8. Dal is good served with an East Indian bread like naan. In Portland, Oregon Nature’s (a natural foods store) stocks naan. Check your area for specialty or natural foods outlets. If there is a significant population of East Indian people in your area you should be able to find naan. It is a flat bread and will often be found in a cooler rather than with the other breads.


Dal can (and should) be made with a number of added ingredients, such as sauteed onions, garlic, chile sauce, curry, garam masala, carrots, peppers, spinach, etc. This is just a basic building block.

Cooking time (duration): 45-60 min

Diet type: Vegan

Number of servings (yield): 4

Meal type: dinner

Culinary tradition: Indian (Northern)

My Rating: 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Recipe by Patty on
Microformatting by hRecipe.

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