Indian Dal is an easy and very flavorful vegetarian side dish made of yellow or red lentils and spices. This makes a delicious, vegetarian side dish for any Indian meal.

A bowl of Indian dal with naan bread and Indian spiced peas

If you’ve ever eaten Indian food, chances are you’ve had dal. It’s on all Indian restaurant menus and it could not be easier to make and there’s nothing better than homemade.  If you haven’t had Indian food, this dish is a good introduction to the cuisine before you move on to all the delicious curries.

What is Indian Dal?

Also spelled  dhal or dail or daal is a side dish made of yellow split peas that are cooked with spices and becomes a lovely shade of yellow. The basic dal is just the lentils and turmeric, but many additions can be added like, jalapeño, onion, and other spices.

A black serving bowl with Indian dal, peas, rice and naan bread

I’ve mentioned before that my favorite cuisine to make (and eat) is Indian. Growing my collection of Indian recipes, like Indian spiced peas that I made last week (and you can see in the picture below), along with my most popular recipe, chicken tikka masala and  sweet potato samosas with mango chutney. There are many more and you can find them all here, almost a whole menu worth.

How to make Indian Dal?

It could not be easier that result in really flavorful results. While the lentils simmer in water with turmeric and bay leaves, cumin, mustard seeds, red chilis and bay leaves. Ginger, garlic, tomatoes and spices are cooked alongside the lentils then added when they are done.

Indian dal with Indian spiced peas, naan bread and chicken tikka maslas

Salting lentils

Lentil can become tough if you salt before cooked, so it is best to add the salt after.

One important thing that you cannot forget when enjoying Indian food is he naan bread, because mopping up all the deliciousness is the best part.

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Yield: 4 servings

Indian Dal

Indian dal is an easy and very flavorful vegetarian side dish made of yellow lentils, tomato, jalapeño and lots of spices. This makes a delicious, vegetarian side dish for any Indian meal.

Indian dal is an easy and very flavorful vegetarian side dish made of lentils, tomato and spices.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 31 minutes
Total Time 51 minutes


  • 2 cups (256 grams) red or yellow lentils, rinsed
  • 4 cups (946 ml) water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 ounce (37 grams) fresh tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh cilantro (coriander), optional


  1. To a large saucepan add the lentils, turmeric and water. Partially cover with a lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the lentils are broken down.
  2. While the lentils cook. Add the butter over to a separate pan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, mustard powder, garam masala and tomato. Stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes stirring. Add the cooked lentils, salt and cilantro, mix well and remove from heat.. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if needed.
  3. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 157Total Fat 4gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 8mgSodium 769mgCarbohydrates 23gNet Carbohydrates 0gFiber 9gSugar 3gSugar Alcohols 0gProtein 10g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken tikka masala ready to be eaten with rice and naan bread

Indian Spiced Peas


A bowl of peas and vegetables with dal, curry and naan bread