I’ve had a few people reach out and ask me to share a good daal recipe (thank you! I love being able to share something that is helpful to you!) I can’t blame you. Daal is probably my most favourite veg meal. Lentils are such a great way to get in your protein in a non-meat sort of way. And daal is an awesome flavour packed full meal deal.
It is very simple to cook daal, just a few key tricks, and a little bit of patience and you can have yourself a delicious flavour packed and nutritious bowl of daal at a fraction of the cost it is at the restaurant.
As much as I love daal, I find that sometimes it can really cause me issues digestively speaking, if you know what I mean. This is because of the enzymes that coat most lentils which are very hard for the body to break down. But give them a good soak for a few hours, and you can cut back on this by about 90%!
So the first trick is to always soak your daal overnight before cooking with it.
Another secret to cooking daal is to avoid adding any salt or flavourings till the very end. Salt tends to prevent the lentils from absorbing the liquid and softening. Which is the exact opposite if what you are going for when making daal.
And one other secret to a really flavourful daal, is to add a tardka at the end. Tardka is basically a spice infused oil that is often used in Pakistani cooking to add a fresh burst of flavour to a dish. It takes a few seconds to make the flavoured oil. Do this just before serving, and you have yourself a restaurant worthy dish that will impress even the toughest food critic in your house.
Depending on how much liquid you use to cook the daal, you could make this like a soup and mix it in with some rice for a hearty meal, or cook out the liquid and you can have yourself a daal karahi (stirfry) that you could spread on bread, or eat with a paratha or naan. Or just eat it straight up by the bowl-full (which I have been known to do on many occasions).
So with those important tips in mind here is, in my opinion, the yummiest way to make an easy daal recipe. Straight from my mom’s kitchen to yours.
Easy Basic Daal
- 1 cup channa daal (split chickpea lentil)
- 1/4 cup moong daal
- 4 cup water (plus more for soaking)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1-2 green chillies, diced
- 3 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 2 dried whole red chillies
- 1 tbsp crushed garlic (about 3 cloves)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp chopped fresh corriander leaves (optional)
- Start by soaking your daal in room temperature water for at least 6 hours (overnight is best) – Just fill a large bowl with your daal and pour enough water over the daal to cover the daal by about 1 inch (a few cm). The daal will absorb a bit of the liquid so you want to be sure you have enough in there so it doesn't dry out.
- When ready to cook your daal, drain and rinse the daal off, then place in a large sauce pan and add 4 cups fresh water. Bring to a boil on high, then turn down the heat to medium low and let it boil for 20-25 minutes to allow the daal to soften.
- While the daal is cooking it might start to build a bit of a foam. This is totally normal. If it starts to boil over you can add a wooden spoon to the pot to prevent it from boiling over.
- You will know the daal is done if you can squish a grain in your fingers easily. Adjust your water level to your liking. If you want the daal to be more like a soup, add a cup or so of water. If you want it to be dryer, turn up the heat and let the liquid cook off for a few minutes.
- When daal is at your desired consistency, turn down the heat and add the 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder. Turn off the heat and set aside and work on the flavour base.
- In a large saucepan or wok heat some oil, add the diced onion and a pinch of salt. Allow to cook for a few minutes till the onions soften.
- Add the diced green chillies and minced garlic and let it cook for a few minutes till the garlic gets fragrant and just starting to brown.
- Add the spices – 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp whole cumin seeds, 1 tsp salt. Cook for a few more minutes till the spices get fragrant.
- Add the diced tomatoes and stir-fry for 5-10 minutes till the tomatoes give off their liquid and start to look dry.
- Add the cooked daal to this spiced tomato mixture and give it a good stir.
- Set aside and make your tardka.
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a clean dry frying pan.
- Add the 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 whole dried red chilli peppers, 1 tbsp crushed garlic and 1 tsp salt.
- In a few minutes the garlic will start to brown and get nice and fragrant. Carefully pour this flavoured oil over your daal and serve immediately. Top with chopped fresh corriander leaves if you like.