Dal fry restaurant style recipe With video and step by step photos – dal fry is a popular Indian lentil recipe made with pigeon pea lentils, onions, tomatoes and spices. What you get after cooking the yellow lentils in an onion-tomato base is a delicious, creamy yellow lentils which is mildly spiced and slightly tangy to taste. This dal fry recipe tastes more like what is served in restaurants.
Dal fry is usually prepared with arhar dal also known as tur, toovar or yellow lentils or pigeon pea lentils. You can also use masoor dal (pink or orange lentils) or moong dal (mung lentils) to make this recipe.
Both dal fry and Dal tadka are two popular dal dishes served in Indian restaurants. Dal fry is not thin and usually has a medium to a thick consistency. You can adjust the amount of water you want when you prepare it.
These two dal recipes are also famous in the road side Dhabas (roadside eateries) of India. But the dals served in the Dhaba have a different taste.
I had recently posted a dal recipe which is made in the Dhaba style. I tried it first time and the results were too good. It almost tasted like the Dhaba dal. here is the link: Dhaba style dal fry. there are many ways of making dals and I will keep on posting the different ways of making them.
Dal fry recipe video
How to make dal fry
1: take ½ cup tuvar dal (arhar dal or pigeon pea lentils) or half-half of tuvar dal and masoor dal (pink or orange lentils). Rinse the lentils in water for a couple of times.
2. Then add the lentils in a pressure cooker. Also add a pinch of turmeric powder and 1.5 cups water.
3. Pressure cook the lentils for 8-9 whistles on a medium flame till they are cooked completely. Once the dal is cooked, then you mash the dal and keep aside. You can see the doneness of the dal and consistency in the below pic. The lentils are cooked till completely soft. There should be no separate grains visible.
Making dal fry
4: in another pan, heat 2-3 tablespoon oil or ghee or unsalted butter. Add ½ or ¾ tsp black mustard seeds (rai).
5. Once the mustard seeds start crackling, then add 1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera and saute them for some seconds till they change color and crackle.
6. Then add 1 medium sized chopped onion, about ⅓ cup chopped onions.
7. Saute till the onions become translucent or lightly browned.
8. Then add ginger-garlic paste (½ inch ginger + 3-4 garlic, crushed or made into a paste in a mortar & pestle).
9. Saute till the raw smell of the ginger-garlic disappears.
10. Add 10-12 curry leaves, 2-3 dry red chilies, 1 or 2 green chilies. I have added curry leaves as they give a very nice flavor to the dal.
11. saute for a minute.
12. Now add all the spice powders – ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp red chili powder, 1 to 2 pinches of asafoetida. Stir.
13. Now add 1 medium sized chopped tomatoes (about ⅓ cup finely chopped tomatoes).
14. Stir and saute till the tomatoes become soft and pulpy. The oil should also start to leave the masala mixture. This an indication that the onion-tomatoes base mixture is cooked.
15. Add this fried mixture to the dal or add the mashed dal to the fried mixture.
16. Stir the dal well with the rest of the masala mixture.
17. Then pour 1 to 1.5 cups water. You can adjust the consistency by adding more or less water.
18. Stir very well to get a smooth & even consistency.
19. Then season with salt.
20. Stir and simmer the dal fry for 5 to 6 minutes on a low to medium flame.
21. Lastly add 1 tsp crushed kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves). You can also substitute kasoori methi with a pinch of fenugreek seeds powder. If you don’t have either, then just skip.
22. Then sprinkle ¼ to ½ tsp garam masala powder. If using homemade and a strong garam masala, then you can add ¼ tsp.
23. Stir and simmer dal fry for a minute.
24. Switch off the flame and lastly add 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves. You can also add ½ to 1 tsp lemon juice towards the end if you prefer.
25. Stir one last time.
26. Serve dal fry hot with parathas, rotis, jeera rice or plain steamed basmati rice accompanied with onion-tomato raita, papad, lime/lemon slices or mango pickle or onion salad or kachumber. You can also garnish it with some more coriander leaves while serving.
More Lentil recipes
for pressure cooking the dal
- ½ cup tuvar dal (arhar dal, pigeon pea lentils) or half-half of tuvar dal and masoor dal
- 1.5 cups water for pressure cooking the dal
other ingredients for dal fry
- 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped or ⅓ cup finely chopped onions
- 1 medium sized tomato, finely chopped or ⅓ cup finely chopped tomatoes
- 2 green chilies, slit or chopped
- 2 to 3 dry red chilies, kept whole or halved and deseeded
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- ½ inch ginger + 3 to 4 garlic crushed or made into a paste in a mortar & pestle or 1 to 1.5 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 to 2 pinches asafoetida powder (hing) - if using a strong asafoetida, then just one pinch is enough
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2 to 3 tablespoons oil or unsalted butter or ghee (clarified butter)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon lemon juice, optional
- 1 to 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves) for garnish
- 1 to 1.5 cups water or add as required
- salt as required
- Take ½ cup tuvar dal (arhar dal or pigeon pea lentils) or half-half of tuvar dal and masoor dal (pink or orange lentils).
- rinse the lentils in water for a couple of times.
- Then add the lentils in a pressure cooker. Also add a pinch of turmeric powder (haldi) and 1.5 cups water.
- Pressure cook the lentils for 8-9 whistles on a medium flame till they are cooked completely.
- Once the dal is cooked, then mash the dal lightly with a wired whisk or with a spoon and keep aside.
making dal fry
- In another pan heat oil or ghee or unsalted butter. Add the mustard and let them splutter.
- When you hear the spluttering sound of the mustard seeds, add the cumin and fry them.
- Add the onions and fry till they become transparent or light brown.
- Now add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for some seconds till their raw aroma disappears.
- Add the green chilies, red chilies, curry leaves and stir.
- Add all the spice powders - turmeric powder, red chili powder, asafoetida powder. And fry for some seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and cook till they soften and you see oil releasing from the sides.
- Now add the mashed dal. Stir well. Add water + salt.
- Stir and simmer the dal for 4-5 minutes more or till you get a smooth and slightly thick consistency.
- Dal fry is not thin and is usually has a medium to thick consistency. So you can adjust the amount of water you want.
- Keep the dal medium consistency if you prefer. Making it thin will spoil the taste.
- Lastly crush the kasuri methi on the palms of your hands and add them to the dal. Then add garam masala powder. Simmer for a minute. Switch off the fire and add chopped coriander leaves. Add lemon juice if you want, at this stage and stir well.
- Now you can garnish it with some more coriander leaves while serving.
- While serving top the dal fry with some ghee or butter if required.
- Serve dal fry hot with steamed basmati rice, biryani rice, jeera rice or saffron pulao. It also goes well with rotis or naan.