Give us a call

Lower Mainland:
Vancouver Island:
Southern Interior:

Spicy Urad Dal

Course: Mains


  • 3/4 cup (150 g) Urad dal (split black gram lentils) or use moong dal(petite yellow lentils).  See notes for more subs
  • 5 cups (354.88 ml) water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the tempering:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder or use 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 teaspoon cayenne or Indian red chili powder optional
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large ripe tomato chopped about 3/4 cup

For finishing:

  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 hot green chili such as Indian chili, thai chili or serrano finely chopped or you can also use mild green chili like Anaheim (use only about a tablespoon chopped or a tablespoon of finely chopped green bell pepper)
  • cilantro and lemon juice for garnish


  • Soak the dal in hot water for at least 15 minutes. Ideally, soak for 30 minutes.
  • Once soaked, drain and add to an instant pot with the water and salt and pressure cook for 5 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
  • To cook it on the stove top, add the dal, 2 cups of water, and salt to a saucepan and cook over medium heat, partially covered for 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender to preference.

Make the tempering

  • Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and wait for it to get hot.
  • Add the cumin seeds and cook until the seeds change color and get very fragrant. They will sizzle and continue to change color. Then add in the cloves and bay leaves and mix. Then add in the ground spices and mix in.
  • Then add in the onion and garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Mix really well and continue to cook until the onion is golden brown.
  • Add in the tomato and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the tomatoes are saucy. Add in a splash of water if the tomatoes are not juicy enough and if they start to stick to the skillet. This will take 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Mash the larger pieces. Add in the cooked dal (lentils) along with the cooking liquid and mix well and simmer until the dal reaches desired consistency. The dal keeps thickening as it sits so you do want a little bit of extra liquid in there.
  • Taste and adjust salt and flavor and add in the minced ginger and the green chili and a dash of lime or lemon juice, lightly mix and take off heat. Garnish with cilantro. Serve over rice, roti, flatbread, or naan.


  • This dal can be made khada (just cooked so the lentils are not broken down) as well as creamy where the lentils are cooked till they break down into a creamy mix. Cook longer for creamy and less for separated lentil texture
  • Dal substitutes: You can use either urad dal without skin or a with skin but definitely use the split kind. Sub with petite yellow lentils, which is moong dal which is split green mung beans. Time remains same. For using red lentils (masoor dal), pressure cook 3 minutes. For whole urad(whole black gram lentils), pressure cook 35-40 minutes
  • for spicier, add 2 dried red chilies or 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes with the bay leaves
  • For Oilfree : dry toast the cumin seeds on a skillet over medium heat. Then add in some broth and bay leaves and cloves and continue with the rest of the step adding broth as needed for sautéing
  • Make it into a soup: most Dals can be made into soups. Add more water to preference and bring to a boil and serve with garlic bread on the side.