Dal Fry with Rice and Salad

Restaurant Style Dal Fry

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Dal Fry is a classic lentil-based Indian curry. To me, this Restaurant Style Dal Fry is comfort food at its best!

Dal is one of the most commonly prepared dishes in the Indian sub-continent. It can be made in so many different ways and each family adds its own personal touch to make this simple curry absolutely special. This dish is also a common feature in many restaurants and roadside eateries called dhabas.

There are two types of people in the world – the ones who love dal and then there are those that dislike it with a passion because they consider it the world’s most boring food. I am clearly on Team I-love-dal!

For those of you who think dal is boring and you’re going boo, I encourage you to try this recipe, you’ll be a convert! My husband who thinks dal is so basic and doesn’t deserve the spotlight, now lights up at the prospect of the Restaurant Style Dal Fry for dinner!

For someone who loves dal in its many glorious forms, I used to think it was unappetising! Thank goodness for adulthood and how it has changed my palate for the better! Hand me a bowl of dal and rice, I am a happy camper! Even better if it is a dhaba style lentil curry. I am a sucker for a well-made lentil curry, and a cup of Restaurant Style Dal Fry makes me all heart-eyed.

Inspiration for this recipe comes from the bajillion YouTube videos of Indian street food. I especially love watching the skillful street-side chefs create magic by turning the humble lentils into something exotic, adding their own special twist. Being so far away from home and with little to no access to Indian street foods, much like my Indian friends living away from our homeland, I live vicariously through these YouTube vloggers. Can you blame me for wanting a taste of dhaba goodness? Undoubtedly, the next  best thing is to try and recreate the amazing dhaba recipes at home!

Here, I show you how you can recreate a Restaurant Style Dal Fry that will become a family favourite meal. In this recipe, lentils are cooked to perfection; the real flavour however comes from the beautifully cooked onions & tomatoes, and the aromatic spices.

Serving Suggestions For Restaurant Style Dal Fry

1. To make your meal wholesome, serve Dal Fry with your fave carb and salad.

2. Serve hot steamed rice with a dollop of ghee and dal.

3. I love Dal Fry in my meal with a side of Aloo Methi or Spicy Cauliflower Roast

4. Cook this Restaurant Style Dal Fry with more water and enjoy this dish like a soup.

Restaurant Style Dal Fry
Restaurant Style Dal Fry

How About Some More Dal Recipes?

Methi Dal

Lemon Dal



  • 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 tsp
  • Green chillies – 3, finely chopped
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • Garam masala – 1 1/4 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • Kasoori methi  – 1 large pinch
  • Salt – To taste
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida (hing) – 1/4 tsp
  • Ghee/oil – 1 tblsp
  • Chopped coriander leaves – 1 Tbsp


  1. Wash toor dal clean. Allow it to soak for about 20 minutes.
  2. Drain the water the dal has been soaking in.
  3. Place the soaked dal in a pressure cooker, and cook it with 4 cups of water for 4 to 5 whistles.
  4. Turn off the stove and allow the pressure to settle.
  5. Once the pressure is released, mash the dal soft.
  6. Add salt and place the cooker back on the stove.
  7. Let the dal simmer.
  8. At this stage, add more water if required.
  9. Dry roast kasoori methi and keep aside.
  10. Heat ghee in a skillet or kadai while the dal simmers.
  11. Add the mustard seeds and let it splutter; now add the cumin seeds and fry them till fragrant and slightly brown.
  12. Add the green chillies and asafoetida, and sauté for about 20 seconds.
  13. Toss in the chopped onions.
  14. Allow it to cook for a minute; then add the ginger-garlic paste.
  15. Sauté until the raw smell from the paste is gone. Now add the dry spices except kasoori methi, and mix well.
  16. Add the chopped tomatoes.
  17. Cook till the tomatoes are soft and ensure it mixes well with the onions and spices.
  18. Additionally, sprinkle a little water to mash the tomato-onion mixture.
  19. Once this is done, add the simmering dal into the onion-tomato mixture.
  20. Depending on how thick or thin you’d like the dal, reduce the dal mixture or add more water to make it thin.
  21. Allow it to simmer for 3 to 5 mins.
  22. Now crush the dry roasted kasoori methi over the simmering dal fry.
  23. Mix well and simmer the dal for another minute or two.
  24. Now the dal fry is done.
  25. Remove the vessel from the stove, sprinkle chopped coriander leaves.
  26. Mix well and serve hot.
  27. Alternatively, add tempering* to the dal before serving. Refer below for tempering method.

*Tempering the Restaurant Style Dal Fry

1. Heat a tablespoon of ghee in a pan.

2. Add thinly sliced garlic.

3. Now, add dried red chillies.

4. Fry until the garlic slices turn golden brown.

5. Turn off the stove and add a teaspoon of Kashmiri red chilli powder.

6. Drizzle the tempering over the Dal Fry for a delicious flavour.


  1. Add or omit spices to suit your preference.
  2. You could add a mixture of toor and moong dal in 1:.5 ratio.
  3. No toor dal? No problem! Use masoor dal (red lentils) instead. However, skip the soaking step since masoor dal doesn’t take long time to cook.

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