July 14th, 2024

Traditional Asian dhal curry recipe

Dhal curry is typically served with rice or flatbread, such as roti, naan, or chapati.
Dhal curry is typically served with rice or flatbread, such as roti, naan, or chapati.

Dhal curry, also known as dal or dahl, is a staple dish in South Asian cuisine, made from lentils and an aromatic blend of spices. This hearty and nutritious dish is typically served with rice or flatbread, such as roti, naan, or chapati. Here's a simple, traditional recipe for a flavourful dhal curry.


  • 1 cup red or yellow lentils (masoor or toor dhal)

  • 3 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • Salt to taste

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, minced or grated

  • 1 green chili, chopped (optional, for a spicier curry)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (optional, for a spicier curry)

  • 1 medium tomato, chopped

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves) for garnishing


  1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly under cold running water until the water runs clear. Drain and set aside.

  2. In a large saucepan, combine the lentils, water, turmeric, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and cooked through. Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once cooked, remove from heat and set aside. You can adjust the consistency of the dhal by adding more water if it's too thick or letting it simmer for longer if it's too thin.

  3. While the lentils are cooking, prepare the spice mixture (tadka). In a separate frying pan, heat the vegetable oil or ghee over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds, and let them sizzle for about 30 seconds, or until they become fragrant and start to pop.

  4. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until it turns golden brown, about 5-7 minutes.

  5. Add the minced garlic, ginger, and green chili (if using) to the onions, and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic is golden and fragrant.

  6. Stir in the ground coriander and red chili powder (if using) to the onion mixture, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, allowing the spices to blend well with the onion, garlic, and ginger.

  7. Add the chopped tomato to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the tomato has softened and blended with the spice mixture.

  8. Carefully pour the spice mixture (tadka) into the cooked lentils, and stir well to combine. Simmer the dhal curry for another 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. Taste and adjust the salt as needed.

  9. Garnish the dhal curry with chopped fresh cilantro (coriander) and serve hot with rice or flatbread. The addition of cilantro adds a burst of freshness and color to the dish, enhancing both its flavor and presentation.