This yellow dal is made with yellow lentils cooked with mustard seeds and ghee. Served over steamed rice and a side of fry fish this makes the perfect weekday lunch. It takes just 20 minutes to make the dal and it can be customized in so many ways.
Lentils have now become the superfoods in regular but especially in vegan cooking. And, in fact, recipes for making Indian dal become very creative. This simple Indian dal is often called 'poor man food' in India and that's because of the simplicity of this recipe and the fact that lentils used to be the most affordable food to keep in your dry stores. Of course, it is also very healthy and good for your body.
Growing up, coming home from school to a simple yellow dal with steamed rice and fried fish was absolute heaven. Mom always made some crispy fried papad and mango pickle to go along with it.
I always cook my dal in the pressure cooker or instant pot because it gives the best texture by softening the dal so it's an almost paste-like consistency. You can cook the dal on the stovetop as well but it needs more cooking time and the texture stays grainy which some prefer. Details are below in the recipe card.
In the interest of saving time an alternate method, to make dal is to precook the dal in the pressure cooker first and store the cooked dal in the fridge for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to a month.
Then, saute the veggies in oil (tadka) and add the cooked dal to the pan. This saves time and lunch is ready in less than 15 minutes. If you like spicy dal then you can also try my Dal Makhani with bottle masala.
Ingredients and substitutes
- Dal - I am using yellow moong dal but you can use a combination of dal such as ¾ cup moong dal, ¼ cup toor darl, and ¼ cup channa dal. It makes for a lovely texture. This recipe will also work with red lentils, green lentils, or a combination of other lentils.
- Mustard seeds - I have yet to find a recipe for dal without spluttered mustard seeds. It just is a wonderful combination.
- Ghee or clarified butter - while you can replace it with oil, this small amount does add a wonderful flavor and aroma to this dish. Highly recommend using it.
- Garlic - I like to add garlic to my dal as well as my tadka but you can add it only to the tadka
- Ginger is another favorite but not usually used to add flavor to dal but you can certainly omit.
- Chily - I like to use a combination of red and green chilies but you can also use chilly flakes.
- Herbs - a combination of dill (shepu) and coriander leaves is my absolute favorite but you can omit the dill as it does have a strong aroma.
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Yellow Dal - Yellow Lentils RecipePrint Pin Rate
- 1 cup Yellow lentils split moong dal
- 1 tablespoon Ghee
- 1 tablespoon Cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
- 4 Curry leaves
- 2 Green chilies slit
- 2 Red chilies seeds removed and roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds jeera
- 2 large Garlic cloves sliced thinly
- ½ inch Ginger sliced thinly
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric powder haldi
- ½ cup Onions chopped
- ¼ cup Dill chopped (shepu leaves)
- ½ cup Coriander leaves chopped
- 2 cups Vegetable stock
- 1 cup Water
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Pepper
- Clean, sort, and wash lentils. Time permitting soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Pro tip - soaking will soften the lentils making them cook evenly and reduce the cooking time.
- In a pressure cooker - melt the ghee and oil. Add the mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter. Next, add the curry leaves, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, and both red and green chilies. Saute for just 30 seconds to a minute keeping the heat to low so you don't burn the leaves and garlic. For Instant pot - use the saute mode and turn it off when if it becomes too hot. Since you can't lower heat turning it off and on is the best way to manage the heat
- Next, add the onions and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the turmeric powder and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add in the drained lentils followed by the vegetable stock and water. Add the dill and coriander leaves, then season with salt and pepper.
- Cover the cook the dal - For the pressure cooker and put the lid with the valve and whistle. Cook on medium heat for 3 to 4 whistles and let natural release- for the Instant pot -first, switch the saute mode off. Then, cover with the lid to the closed position and set the valve to seal. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes and let natural release- for stovetop - it will take from 30 to 45 minutes depending on how long the lentils were soaked. Pro tip - It is best to use natural release otherwise the lentil particles can go into the whistle or seal valve which is difficult to clean.
- When open, mix well and check for consistency adding water if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with more chopped coriander leaves.
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