dal fry

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.

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dal fry 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

STEP BY STEP PHOTOS ABOVEMany of my recipes have detailed step by step photos and useful tips to help you make it easily and perfectly.

Dal Fry

4.84 from 107 votes
This restaurant style dal fry is a popular Indian lentil recipe made with pigeon pea lentils, onion, tomatoes and spices.
dal fry recipe
Author:Dassana Amit
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:10 mins
Total Time:25 mins
Course:main course
Servings (change the number to scale):4


(1 CUP = 250 ML)


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

Dassana Amitnamaste and welcome to vegrecipesofindia.com which i started in feb 2009 and is a pure vegetarian blog. i have been passionate about cooking from childhood and began to cook from the age of 10. later having enrolled in a home science degree greatly enhanced my cooking & baking skills and took it to a different level which i now share as foolproof recipes. i was formally trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.

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188 comments/reviews

  1. 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

    • Welcome Sarah. Glad to know that both of you liked the dal fry recipe.

  2. Most delicious dal ever! Thank you!5 stars

    • Welcome Tammy

  3. thank you, it was soooo good! I am saving your website so I can make more recipes!5 stars

    • Welcome Giusi. Glad to know this.

  4. 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

    • Welcome Veena. Thanks for your kind words and best wishes.

  5. superb yar.. Lv u soo much..?

    • thank you deepa ?

  6. 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

    • 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.

  7. favorite family recipe. Perfect

    • thank you vanitha.

  8. The dal becomes thick and gets set after kept in fridge. Why does that happen?

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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.

  9. GREAT recipe!!!

    • thanks sam.

  10. 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

    • pleased to know this vanshika 🙂 thanks for positive views.

  11. 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

    • pleased to know you liked the dal fry recipe, thanks for positive views.

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

    • pleased to know this thank you swathi for your kind and encouraging words 🙂

  13. It’s delicious awesome
    thank u so much4 stars

    • welcome nazira and thank you.

  14. Plz, mam share some soyabin chunk recipes

    • 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.

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

    • welcome akshatha and thankyou so much 🙂

  16. Thank you

    • welcome.

  17. Photos and Recipe are awesome >>. <<3 stars

    • thankyou lekhraj 🙂

  18. 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

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

  19. but what do you do if you don’t have a pressure cooker?! :'(

    • 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.

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

    • pleased to know this aruna thankyou so much 🙂

  21. 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

    • pleased to know this neha 🙂 thankyou for your positive words and god bless you.

  22. 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

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

  23. 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

    • thanks for the feedback soumya.

  24. 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!

    • welcome maya. glad to know this.

  25. 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

    • welcome justene

  26. 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

    • thanks jedidja for sharing this info.

  27. Your recipes are very helpful and easy to understand .. Thanx a big fan 🙂5 stars

    • welcome shruti. thanks for your kind words.

  28. One of the best dal fry recipe,subtle taste,perfect one.5 stars

    • thanks radhika

  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

    • 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

    • welcome santosh

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

    • welcome riya. thanks for your kind words.

  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

    • welcome nilesh. glad to know this.

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

    • welcome sukanya. thanks for sharing positive feedback on recipes.

  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

    • welcome jane. good to know this.

  35. Tasty5 stars