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Dal Fry in a Round dish with rice, salad and pickle on side

Dal Fry Recipe

Shweta Arora
Dal Fry is a popular Indian lentil dish made with toor dal (yellow split pigeon peas), onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, herbs, and spices. It is nutritious, delicious, easy to make, and comfort food! This Punjabi style dal fry recipe pairs perfectly with roti, naan, or jeera rice and is a famous side dish in Indian restaurants as well as a staple in most households.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 224 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Toor dal split pigeon peas (or ¾ cup of toor dal and ¼ cup of masoor or moong dal)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For dal fry tempering

  • 2 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds rai
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds zeera
  • pinch asafoetida hing
  • 2 dried red chilli optional
  • 7 to 8 curry leaves optional
  • 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger minced, 1 inch piece
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced, 4-5 garlic pods
  • 1 to 2 green chilies slit vertically, adjust to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder adjust to taste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala adjust to taste
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 2 tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dry fenugreek leaves Kasuri methi
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon lemon juice adjust to taste
  • ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped

Instructions
 

Prep work

  • Rinse dal 3-4 times until the water runs clear.
  • Pressure cook the dal using either Instant Pot or Stovetop pressure cooker. Transfer the rinsed dal either to an Instant Pot or pressure cooker with 3 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well and close the lid.
  • Instant Pot - cook on manual (pressure cook) high pressure for 10 mins followed by natural pressure release.
    Stovetop pressure cooker - cook on medium heat for 4-5 whistles. Let steam release naturally.
  • When the pressure comes down (pin drops) open the lid. Using a whisk, mash the dal for a smooth texture.

To make Dal fry

  • Heat ghee in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter.
  • Then add the cumin seeds, dried red chili, curry leaves, and asafoetida (hing). Saute for a few seconds.
  • Stir in the onions, ½ teaspoon salt, and mix well. Cook till the onions are soft and golden brown in color.
  • Add ginger, garlic and green chili. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the raw garlic smell goes away. If needed deglaze the pan with 1-2 tablespoons water to prevent the masala from burning.
  • Stir in the turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and saute for a few seconds.
  • Then add the chopped tomatoes, mix well, cover, and cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy (approximately 5 mins).
  • Mix and mash tomatoes until oil oozes from the side of the masala.
  • Add the cooked dal in the pan and mix until well combined.
  • Adjust the dal consistency to your liking by adding ½ to 1 cup water. Also taste for salt and add as required.
  • Bring dal to a simmer. Crush Kasuri Methi between your palms and add it to the dal. Simmer for another 5-6 mins on medium-low heat.
  • Finally, add some chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Mix well.
  • Serve Dal fry hot topped with some ghee with some rice, roti, or naan.

Instant Pot Dal Fry

  • Press the saute button on instant pot and add once hot add ghee followed by mustard seeds. Allow them to splutter.
  • Then add the cumin seeds, dried red chili, curry leaves, and asafoetida (hing). Saute for a few seconds.
  • Stir in the onions, ½ teaspoon salt, and mix well. Cook till the onions are soft and golden brown in color.
  • Add ginger, garlic and green chili. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the raw garlic smell goes away. If needed deglaze the pan with 1-2 tablespoons water to prevent the masala from burning.
  • Stir in the turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and saute for a few seconds.
  • Immediately add the chopped tomatoes, mix well, and cook until the tomatoes are soft and mushy.
  • Add the rinsed dal, 3 cups of water and salt to the Instant Pot.
  • If you are doing PIP rice, add a trivet inside the instant pot and place the rice bowl on the trivet. Cover the bowl (optional).
  • Close the lid, move vent to sealing position and press manual (pressure cook) high for 10 mins followed by natural release.
  • Once the pin drops, open the lid, remove the rice container and keep it aside.
  • Start Instant pot back on saute mode, mash the dal to your liking. Add water (if required) to adjust the consistency.
  • Bring dal fry to a simmer and add kasuri methi, lemon juice, and cilantro and mix well. Instant Pot dal fry is ready! Serve Dal fry hot topped with some ghee with some rice, roti, or naan.

Video

Notes

Cooking dal in a pot - Rinse and soak the dal for 30-60 mins. This will help the lentils cook faster. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil and then add the dal to it and cook until soft and mushy. If required add more hot water. Skim off any froth that is formed. Once the dal is cooked and soft add to the onion tomato masala.
Dal quality - Use good quality, freshly stocked lentils since age-old lentils will take more time and water to cook.
Type of dal (lentils) - Typically dal fry is made from toor dal but you can also use split masoor dal or yellow moong dal, chana dal, or a combination to make dal fry. Each dal has its own flavor and texture so depending on the lentils used, the dal fry taste will change. Also, cooking times vary slightly.
Soaking dal is not required for this recipe. But to speed the process, soak for 30mins and pressure cook just for 6 mins.
Dal fry tastes best when cooked in ghee but to keep it vegan replace ghee with canola oil or oil of choice. 
Adjust spices to your preference by adding more red chili powder or green chilies or reducing it to make it less spicy.
Dal consistency - Adjust the consistency of dal by adding water a little at a time. Too much water will dilute the taste so add as required. Also, this dal thickens over time so adjust the consistency with water and taste for seasoning.
Smoky flavor Dal - For that restaurant-style taste, smoke the dal using the dungar method. I usually skip this step as we prefer the dal just like so. 
For gluten-free dal, skip hing (asafoetida).
For Dungar Method (optional):
  • Using tongs place a small piece of charcoal on the flame until it is red hot, turning occasionally so all sides are evenly hot. Place the hot coal piece into a small stainless steel bowl (that would fit inside the pot) and place the bowl on a trivet inside the pot.
  • Add ½ teaspoon of oil/ghee over the charcoal. You will see it immediately starts to smoke. Cover and keep it closed for a minute or two to infuse the smoky flavor to the dal. Keeping it for too long may lead to excessive smoky flavor so make sure not to exceed more than a min or two. Remove the bowl and mix. Smoky restaurant-style dal fry is ready to be served 

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 959mg | Potassium: 233mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 732IU | Vitamin C: 49mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg
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