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Dal Recipe

Dal Recipe

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Dal is comfort food at its best, it is a simple dish but a staple in most Indian homes. Growing up my mum always cooked us Yellow Dal with Rice and it something we devoured.

I’m so glad I’ve introduced this Dal Recipe to my kids. On our meat-free days my boys are content with a bowl of steaming rice and dal.

Dal in a white bowl

What is Dal?

The Dal we eat is cooked with yellow split peas. It is boiled until soft with some turmeric. We then temper our spices and add it to the dal.

In South Africa our dal is more soup like. The consistency of the dal really depends on individual preference.

Tempering Spices

The tempering of the spices is what takes the dal to a whole new level. Everyone has their own method of cooking this dish.

I remember my mum spending hours tempering her spices and creating a delicious blend to add to her dal.

I do know how to make that blend, which is now sold in spice shops, called a braising spice. Will post a recipe for that soon.

Yellow Dal

We call it yellow dal due to the fact that turmeric is added to it, this is what gives this Dal Recipe a beautiful golden hue.

Cooking and Altitude

I find my dried beans and peas takes much longer to boil in Johannesburg, due to the high altitude. If you didn’t know this “low air pressure causes boiling water to evaporate more quickly in high altitude”.

Now you should understand why our dried beans and peas take longer to cook. It’s why I have invested in a pressure cooker, makes life so much more simple.

How to serve Dal

My favourite way to serve this dish is with rice but you can have it with your favourite bread too. My hubby is North Indian so he eats every curry with Roti.

I never ate dal with roti until I married him…Lol! The kids will eat Dal with rice but my hubby will never just eat Dal, so I have to cook other vegetarian dishes with it.

Any vegetable curry goes well with Dal but give me plain Dal and I am happy. Some of us are not as fussy as others.

This recipe makes a great dish for vegetarians and you can make it ahead and freeze. My fussy family will never eat food that’s pre-cooked and frozen but I have frozen cooked dal in the past, heated and served it to them. They didn’t know the difference.

As I said in some of my posts I never freeze things but this is an exception. I guess because it’s soup like freezing doesn’t alter the texture or the taste much.

If you do try my recipe please leave a comment and a star rating, it is always appreciated.

More Vegetarian Recipes to try:

Yellow Potato Curry with Cumin

Chickpea Butternut Curry with Coconut Milk

Palak Paneer

Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Dal Recipe

A simple, comforting Indian dish made with split peas
Cuisine Indian
Keyword dal recipe, easy vegetarian recipes, indian food recipes, yellow split pea dal recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 cup/250ml yellow split peas
  • 1/2 tspn turmeric
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 green chillies or dry chillies
  • 2 large garlic cloves smashed
  • 1 sprig curry leaf
  • 1 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1 tspn fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 2 tspn butter ghee or 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 spring onion optional
  • 1 small tomato blanched and grated
  • Few coriander leaves for garnishing
  • salt
  • 3 cups/750ml water plus a little more


  • Soak dal overnight or for a few hours. Add the 3 cups of water with the turmeric and boil on the stovetop or in a pressure cooker until it's soft and smooth.
  • Heat butter ghee or oil and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once it starts bursting add spring onion (optional) curry leaf, chilli and onion and sauté until onion is translucent.
  • Add garlic and fry for a minute.
  • Add the tomato and cook on a low heat until the tomato is cooked.
  • Add the cooked da and season with salt, Add more water and bring to a boil, allow it to simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes. Water can be added according to your preference, if you prefer a thick dal add less water, if you prefer it more liquid then add more water. Once cooked you can add 2 teaspoons of butter to make it even more delicious if you wish.
  • Garnish with coriander
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Recipe Rating

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Saturday 15th of May 2021

My first attempt tasted great, but I had not soaked and cooked the dal long enough. At the second go, I was more patient with the process, and it came out much better, delicious actually. Great recipe, definitely a keeper!


Monday 17th of May 2021

Hi Helga! Thank you. I am happy to hear that your second attempt worked out better. It's a staple in our home so glad you love it too:-)


Monday 21st of September 2020

Hi Lorraine, thank you for all the recipes, I have loved trying them out. Quick question please, I just wanted to know how long I should boil the dal for after soaking it?


Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

Hi Justin! Thank you so much. Depending on where you live the times could vary. Here in JHB, at high altitude, it is impossible to boil Dal on the stovetop as it literally takes a whole day. I use a pressure cooker. If you are on the coast, low altitude it should take about 30 minutes or more.

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