This classic lentil-based Indian curry is comfort food at its best. This dish is a common feature in many restaurants and roadside eateries called dhabas.
For the dal fry, lentils are cooked to perfection; the real flavour however comes from the beautifully cooked onions & tomatoes, and the aromatic spices.
Dal fry tastes great with rice, rotis and parathas. I enjoy it best with hot, steaming rice with a dollop of ghee.
- Toor/arhar dal or pigeon peas – 1 1/2 cups
- Water – 4 cups + about 1 cup for thinning the curry
- Onion (large) – 1, finely chopped
- Tomatoes – 2, finely chopped
- Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tspn
- Green chillies – 3, finely chopped
- Turmeric – 1/2 tspn
- Chilli powder – 1 tspn
- Garam masala – 1 1/4 tspn
- Coriander powder – 1 tspn
- Kasoori methi (optional) – 1 large pinch
- Salt – To taste
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 tspn
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 tspn
- Asafetida (hing) – 1/4 tspn
- Ghee/oil – 1 tblspn
- Chopped coriander leaves – 1 tblspn
- Wash toor dal clean. Allow it to soak for about 20 minutes.
- Drain the water the dal ha seen soaking in.
- Place the soaked dal in a pressure cooker, and cook it with 4 cups of water for 4 to 5 whistles.
- Turn off the stove and allow the pressure to settle.
- Once the pressure is released, mash the dal till it’s soft.
- Add salt and place the cooker back on the stove.
- Let the dal simmer.
- At this stage, add more water if required.
- Dry roast kasoori methi and keep aside.
- Heat ghee in a skillet or kadai while the dal simmers.
- Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter; now add the cumin seeds and fry them till fragrant and slightly brown.
- Add the green chillies and asafoetida, and sauté for about 20 seconds.
- Toss in the chopped onions.
- Allow it to cook for a minute; then add the ginger-garlic paste.
- Sauté till the raw smell from the paste is gone. Now add the dry spices except kasoori methi, and mix well.
- Add the chopped tomatoes.
- Cook till the tomatoes till it becomes soft and mixes with the onions and spices.
- If required, sprinkle a little water to mash the tomato-onion mixture.
- Once this is done, add the simmering dal into the onion-tomato mixture.
- Depending on how thick or thin you’d like the dal, reduce the dal mixture or add more water to make it dilute.
- Allow it to simmer for 3 to 5 mins.
- Now crush the dry roasted kasoori methi over the simmering dal fry.
- Mix well, and simmer for another minute or two.
- Now the dal fry is done.
- Remove the vessel from the stove, sprinkle chopped coriander leaves. Mix well, and serve hot.
- Add or omit spices to suit your preference.
- You could add a mixture of toor and moong dal in 1:.5 ratio.
- If you can’t find toor dal, use masoor dal (red lentils) instead. However, skip the soaking step as masoor dal gets cooked very fast.