dal fry

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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 recipe

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

Cooking lentils 

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.

dals for dal fry recipe

2. Then add the lentils in a pressure cooker. Also add a pinch of turmeric powder and 1.5 cups water.

cooking dals for dal fry recipe

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.

boiling dal for dal fry recipe

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).

butter for dal fry recipe

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.

cumin for dal fry recipe

6. Then add 1 medium sized chopped onion, about ⅓ cup chopped onions.

onions for dal fry recipe

7. Saute till the onions become translucent or lightly browned.

sauteing onions for dal fry recipe

8. Then add ginger-garlic paste (½ inch ginger + 3-4 garlic, crushed or made into a paste in a mortar & pestle).

ginger for dal fry recipe

9. Saute till the raw smell of the ginger-garlic disappears.

sauteing ginger for dal fry recipe

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.

chillies for dal fry recipe

11. saute for a minute.

sauteing dal fry masala

12. Now add all the spice powders – ½ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp red chili powder, 1 to 2 pinches of asafoetida. Stir.

spices for dal fry recipe

13. Now add 1 medium sized chopped tomatoes (about ⅓ cup finely chopped tomatoes).

tomatoes for restaurant style dal fry

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.

sauteing tomatoes for dal fry recipe

15. Add this fried mixture to the dal or add the mashed dal to the fried mixture.

add dal mixture

16. Stir the dal well with the rest of the masala mixture.

stir dal fry

17. Then pour 1 to 1.5 cups water. You can adjust the consistency by adding more or less water.

water for restaurant style dal fry

18. Stir very well to get a  smooth & even consistency.

stir dal fry recipe

19. Then season with salt.

salt for dal fry recipe

20. Stir and simmer the dal fry for 5 to 6 minutes on a low to medium flame.

simmer restaurant style dal fry

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.

kasuri methi for dal fry recipe

22. Then sprinkle ¼ to ½ tsp garam masala powder. If using homemade and a strong garam masala, then you can add ¼ tsp.

garam masala for dal fry recipe

23. Stir and simmer dal fry for a minute.

stir restaurant style dal fry

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.

coriander for restaurant style dal fry

25. Stir one last time.

restaurant style dal fry recipe, dal fry recipe

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.

serve dal fryMore Lentil recipes

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dal fry recipe

Dal Fry

4.87 from 119 votes
This restaurant style dal fry is a popular Indian lentil recipe made with pigeon pea lentils, onion, tomatoes and spices.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 25 mins

Cuisine Indian
Course: Main Course

Servings 4


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


cooking lentils

  • 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.


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Dassana Amit

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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  1. Absolutely delicious! Will certainly make this again, and add to my favourites 🙂5 stars

  2. Very good recipe. I followed the recipe& it turned out great. Will be making it again as my family loved it. I served this dhal with tandoori roti.5 stars

    1. thank you mina for this positive review on dal fry. glad to know. yes, dal fry tastes good with tandoori roti and even a phulka or paratha.

    1. you can triple the recipe, but when adding hing, spice powders, kasuri methi please use the method of approximation or andaaz.

  3. Amazing recipe. Tastes like authentic dhaba style dal. Thanks for putting up these recipes Dassana. Your site is my number one go-to resource for the most consistently delicious recipes.5 stars

    1. Welcome Minoo. Glad to know this. Thanks for sharing positive feedback on dal fry recipe.

  4. All your receipes deserve 5 star rating. If everyone starts following your receipes then hotels will have a tough time..5 stars

  5. I made your dhal it was lovely please I would like a chicken biriyani recipe thanks Lenny

    1. Welcome Lenny. We only share vegetarian recipes on the blog. So won’t be able to share the recipe requested.

  6. Excellent recipe. To add a bit of crunchiness I put cut up spinach leaves it was delicious! Thank you for sharing.5 stars

  7. Hi Dassana,
    I tried this recipe for our office potluck lunch and it was a great hit among my friends. Thank you for all the effort you take in giving detailed recipes….especially the pictures. Due to this, the recipes that I try turn out almost exactly as shown on the website.
    Whenever I have some item in my fridge or I want to try something new, I look up recipes on your website.
    I used alphonso mangoes to make mango ice cream two weeks back. Now off to make mango kesari 🙂
    Hats off Dassana and keep up the good work !5 stars

    1. welcome estee. thanks for your positive feedback on dal fry. glad to know that you like the website.

  8. Hi again

    As for the pressure cook – how can I translate the “whistles count” to time in minutes?

  9. Hello Ma’am
    Your recipes are too good and easy to follow… As a fresher in cooking your recipes have helped me a lot… Thank you so Much…
    The dal fry came out really well . All my family members loved it a lot.

    1. Welcome Silpa. Glad to know that everyone liked the dal fry recipe. Thanks for your positive feedback on recipes.

  10. Thank you.

    My father liked it a lot. You are super in representation​ and presentation.5 stars

  11. seriously lost the count of chapatis my husband had. You are the best no doubt. I am a great fan of you.5 stars

      1. Coz she herself was busy feasting. Thanks for the wonderful work. Sumi turned out a master chef. Credits to you. You guessed it rt. Am her hubby 🙂5 stars

        1. thank you sri. isn’t it great when your partner (be if wife or husband) cooks good food. it definitely helps ?

  12. Excellent recipe. It came out nice, though I din add garam masala and methi leaves. Thank you so much.4 stars

  13. Hi, thank you for another awesome recipe. Just a heads up, the amount of garam masala needed is missing in the written list of ingredients but I found it in the captions under your pictures.Thanks for this phenomenal tutorial. Your website is the best at breaking down recipes step by step.5 stars

    1. Welcome Cj. Glad to know that you liked the dal fry recipe. Thanks for your appreciation and also for mentioning about the garam masala. I have mentioned the garam masala in ingredient list also.

  14. I made this for my husband last night who is from South India. He took it to the table and quickly ran back in to the kitchen with a shocked look, “This is too good!”. He loved it so much, as did I. He now wants me to cook it again. Thank you 🙂5 stars

  15. Your recipes are a blessing. Have tried so many of them and all have come out to be absolutely delicious dishes, earning me appreciation each time ?
    Thank you so so much. God bless.5 stars

  16. I have about 5 vegetarian Indian cookbooks, and although I adore two of them, your food is always my favourite. I’ve cooked your recipes about 15 times now since I promised myself I’d get some basic skills in Indian cookery, and I’ve enjoyed them every time. Thank you for your effort with this site and I wish you had a book I could buy.5 stars

    1. Welcome Lucy. Thanks a lot for this positive feedback on recipes. We don’t have a plan to make the book right now. But may be in future.

    1. most of the gravies and dals become thick. they even become thick at room temperature. i do not know the scientific reason as to exactly what happens with the food molecules, but the cool temperature does thicken the dal.

      1. Dal when it cools down becomes thick because the starches present in the dal stiffen up. Also the protein strands change with heating and cooling, making a thicker texture.
        This is a very unscientific description of the food science, but if you google it you can see more detailed explanations.

        I must say I love the recipes on your site and I visit often.

        1. SS, thanks a lot for this info. i will search in google for a more detailed explanation. also thanks for the feedback on the recipe. happy cooking.

  17. hi, i love your recipes. thanks a lot. you are my saviour. i have never cooked earlier but now i can cook and get appreciation4 stars

  18. Hi Dasanna
    Usually I am not fond of dal I wanted to prepare in a tasty way so I tried your dal fry recipe and I had it all alone ? So yummy5 stars

  19. Finally found the recipe for dal fry which i love in restaurants ! Thank u soo much dassana ? all ur recipes are highly recommended ?

    1. sandeepta, i do not make soyabean chunks or granules recipe as i do not use them. i have read that they are made with low grade ingredients, which are not healthy. i am not getting the link where i read. otherwise i would have shared with you.

  20. Love the flavor of this recipe. It’s so aromatic and delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

  21. Its been many years since I have been looking for this Dal Fry recipe. So long that I have forgotten when I last tasted it. Anyways, it came out awesome. I have high cholesterol so I went with about 1tbsp of ghee 🙂 And only one red and one green chilli. Many thanks for posting this.5 stars

    1. pleased to know this prashant 🙂 thankyou for your kind words also you are welcome. do take care.

    1. just soak the dal for an hour or two. then drain and keep aside. in a pot, add water and turmeric powder. when the water comes to a boil, add the dal and cook in an open pan. the scum which is formed when cooking, can be just removed with a spoon. simmer till the dal is cooked and soft. for about 1 cup of dal, you can use 3-4 cups water. tuvar dal takes longer time to cook than other dals. depending on the quality of the tuvar dal, it should take about 40 minutes to an hour to cook.

  22. The recipe was really Good. Easy and tasty .I am regular follower of your recipes. Thanks dassana.4 stars

  23. I tried the dal fry recipe from several websites… But nothing ever turned out to be as perfect as this one…

    I always like to try new ways of cooking a particular dal or vegetable as cooking it same way all the time gets so boring… However.. sometimes the experiment goes wrong and I wish I had cooked it just like I always do..With your blog.. I can try the new way of cooking something without worrying about the outcome as nothing has ever gone wrong….

    I cannot thank you enough for all the recipes…

    Thank you 🙂5 stars

  24. Been stuck in this hotel room for a week now…was craving for some Indian food..tried your recipe and loved it..i had it with rice and also tried your other recipe for potato roast…was very satisfying..thank you..5 stars

    1. pleased to know this balaji 🙂 thankyou for trying the potato roast and you are welcome.

  25. I made this for my husband yesterday who usually likes non veg dishes more, but this just tasted awesome & he loved it. I made it with jeera rice.
    Thank you so much for sharing the wonderful recup. .4 stars

  26. Thanks for this awesome recipe. So flavourful. Once made this for my folks and my mum has now switched from her usual dal recipe and made this her staple one now. Super tasty!

  27. Thank you so much for this recipe, I am the biggest dahl lover and have tried many recipes- this is the BEST!!! Thank you again for sharing5 stars

  28. Wonderful recipe! For anyone using an electric pressure cooker, 2.5 cups of water to 1 cup of dal for 6 minutes (plus 10-minute release) seems to work well.5 stars

  29. Hi Dassana,I tried this recipe yesterday nd it was very very tasty,nice to eat with simple brown rice nd this dal.God bless you for your hardwork..do you have any nonveg recipes?3 stars

    1. thanks laveena for your positive feedback and for your prayers. i only cook vegetarian recipes at home.

  30. Just awesome! Even I can cook to surprise my wife and beautiful daughter. Thanks a lot!!!!!5 stars

  31. Hats off to u!!!! u make life easier by posting such wonderful, easy, and delicious recipes. Thnx ma’am!!

  32. I searched on Google “How to prepare dal fry” and I found this link. Thanks Amit, for sharing this recipe. My friend liked the dal I prepared for the first time. This saved me today.5 stars

  33. Dassana all yr recipes r awesome, the step by step process is very helpful thank u……….

  34. Just returned from india and so missing the delicious food. This recipe is really great. I will add tho to my repertoire of excellent dines to make at home. Thank you for sharing this.5 stars

  35. I love Indian foods. The recipe you have shared! so good in taste, liked it so much thanks for sharing it.5 stars

  36. dassana amit . Lovely recipe.. i really like your all recipes… AWESOME… I WANT THE RECIPE OF SOYA BEAN TIKKA OR CHAAP..5 stars

  37. Love it. I’m not indian but my lovely wife is from Bombay and she has given it rave reviews. The one thing is, when I use my pressure cooker (brought from India), the dal liquid goes flying everywhere with each whistle. Is there a way to minimize this?

    Thank you again and I hope you post some Sindhi recipes in the future so I can score even more points.5 stars

    1. it depend on the size of the pressure cooker. also how much water is added to the dal. generally i add about 2.5 to 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dal. if you add oil about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of oil to the dal, then the liquids don’t come out from the cooker.

  38. Awesome… Was looking this. It turned out the way I wanted… Thank u very much. Could you tell how to bring that charcoal smoke flavor to dal tadka just like resturant…5 stars

    1. thanks. to get the charcoal flavor, you will have to first burn the a small piece of charcoal till its red hot. then place it in a steel bowl. place this steel bowl with the charcoal in the dal. the dal has to be of a slight thick consistency, otherwise the steel bowl will immerse in it. sprinkle 1/2 tsp of ghee or oil on the red hot coal. then cover the dal and the bowl with a lid. let the smoke infuse for a few minutes. the longer you keep, the food gets a heavy smoking flavor, which is not advised. so just keep for 2 to 3 minutes and then remove the lid.

  39. My friend make the recipe of fry dal and everyone like it. I will also try to make.
    Thank you so much.

  40. Hey mam,

    thank you so much for this simple and delicious recipe. i tried as your post suggest. I can’t tell you how much i liked it. very tasty ……………

    Thanx from bottom of my heart

    keep doing this

  41. Thank you!!! I just prepared dal it was just fantastic!! Please keep posting for new leaner’s like me…

  42. Just tried ur dal fry….it’s out of the world. ..I’m such an awkward cook…This recipe made my hubby n children wonder if it’s ordered from the restaurant. …yeah…I’m so thrilled. ..Thank u so much…God bless you5 stars

    1. welcome usha. good to know that the dal fry turned out very well. do try more recipes.

  43. Tried the dal today and it turned out to be really good. Thanks for the recipe. Will be trying your bhindi recipe next . By the way do you have a dry Allo Mattar recipe also? Thanks.4 stars

  44. Thank you for the detailed guide. Prepared the dish and it turned out exactly as shown.5 stars

  45. Thank you very much 🙂 Tried and turned out as winner.Easy to cook and great to taste !!!5 stars

  46. Just tried this recipe tonight. My family loved it. Definitely saving this one! Thanks 🙂

  47. Hi!

    Tried this recipe 3 times! Just awesome! Tastes better than dhaba dal! Great work! Thank you!!!

  48. hey, this is the first time im making something which is this dal fry… but after making it, i noticed in the picture u used a different pan than mine so… does it make any difference, like in the taste or something?
    Loved the recipe though….5 stars

    1. thanks muskan. are you talking about the kadai. yes, there is a slight difference in the taste depending upon the kind of pan and which material the pan is made of.

  49. Thank you…..love you…love you….meri life ki first dish jo mene bnayi aapki recepie dekhkar….nd I got sooooo many compliments…..

  50. Hey Dassana!

    I tried your recipe, and it is superb. Highly recommend everyone to try this. I got nothing but compliments for this dish. And thank you for the no-pressure-cooker tips. Thank you!

    Sheila5 stars

  51. I tried cooking first time and it was awesome experience with this recipe. thanks a lot.5 stars

  52. for preparation ghee is use this is of which brand .because the restaurant the smell is different. so kindly say the brand of restaurants using ghee.

  53. No pressure cooker, but we soaked overnight and cooked till tender in a open pot.

    Mashing and such just does not get the same look as in your pictures. We put it in a blender for a little bit but not to long. (when cool, not when hot)

    It still is a bit chunky, ideas on what we can do to get it right?

    Four stars because of us not you… 🙂4 stars

    1. to get the mashable consistency, the lentils have to be cooked more. the recipe is not chunky at all. actually it also depends on the pigeon pea lentils one gets abroad. what i have heard, is that some of them are really tough to cook and take a lot of time. i would suggest to buy a good quality from a reliable brand. organic brands are much better.

      if you still have the blended lentils, gather all of it in a pan. add hot water and simmer on a low to medium flame with frequent stirs in a pot. cooking the soaked lentils in a pot should take approx 45 mins to 1 hour or more depending on the quality of the lentils. i would also suggest to make the same dal fry recipe with mung lentils as they are faster to cook as compared with pigeon pea lentils.

  54. Hi! Excellent recipe, been combing the net for one I really liked and wanted!

    Question, do you know how to cook the dal without a pressure cooker? I’ve developed a lifelong phobia of that device, and I can’t use it. Thank you!5 stars

    1. just soak the dal for an hour or two. then drain and keep aside. in a pot, add water and turmeric powder. when the water comes to a boil, add the dal and cook in an open pan. the scum which is formed when cooking, can be just removed with a spoon. simmer till the dal is cooked and soft. for about 1 cup of dal, you can use 3-4 cups water. tuvar dal is the toughest to cook in a pot. the other dals cook pretty fast. depending on the quality of the tuvar dal, it should take about 40 minutes to an hour to cook.

  55. Hello Dassana,

    I am so happy that I found your site. In 1981 I was in Jaipur for a couple of weeks. I lived in a sleeping hall with some ten other men in a cheap lodge near the railway station. Every morning, I had dal fry and chapatis at a very simple street-side restaurant nearby. That dal fry has haunted me ever since, and I have tried to cook it many times without success. I have even tried to find it at restaurants in south India at later visits to your country – to no avail. But now, thanks to your fantastic recipe, I have today had a meal that comes very close to how I remember the dal fry in Jaipur.

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I will browse your other ones as well.

    Best wishes from Stockholm, Sweden,

    Magnus5 stars

    1. Hello Magnus

      Thanks for this sweet comment.
      I am glad, finally you found the dal fry recipe you were looking for.
      You are can try other indian recipes as well.


      1. Hello again, Dassana,

        Yesterday I made your aloo palak. I couldn’t get any fresh spinach, so I used some fresh mangold instead. What a lovely recipe. Today, I am making dal fry again, plus aloo matar.

        Your blog is a gold-mine of vegetarian recipes for me!



  56. another wonderful recipe dassana! tried it today & it was a big hit in my house! i consider dal as comfort food & ur recipes just do that…give me pleasure in eating! just a request….can u post Bread Upma recipe for me please….4 stars

      1. Your all recipes are awesome…
        Fabulous taste…. Best recipes
        Dassana Amit5 stars