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Dhaba style Dal

Dal is a curry made of lentils to go with rice and is a staple in every corner of India, though made differently from region to region.

Dhaba are restaurants that are usually situated on highways, they majorly cater heavily spiced Punjabi food and are very popular for their style of cooking. Many restaurants have adopted this style of cooking and gradually turning into a cuisine of its own kind, this dal is one such recipe.

This absolutely delicious spiced Dal is dhaba style where in the preparation is little more elaborate with 5 different types of lentils,  a masala with crushed ginger-garlic and chili is cooked along with onion and tomatoes, spices and has a smoked flavor (true dhaba style flavor.) that is stirred in at the end. It is different from a simple dal tadka made at home.



This lentil curry tastes divine when eaten over basmati rice or with Naan or Roti. This is a perfect go-to recipes when there is no vegetables except tomato, cilantro and onion but you crave for a rich-filling and restaurant style food.

The dal is creamy and packed with flavors of lentils, garlic and spices. This recipe has no cream in it, the black gram/urad dal gives it a creamy texture without the cream.

The list may look long but the ingredients are simple and once you begin cooking with little prep work,  you’ll realize how easy it is!

Ingredients you’ll need:

To cook in pressure cooker:
3 tbsp Green gram | Moong dal
2 tbsp Pigeon pea | Toor dal
2 tbsp Bengal gram | Channa dal
1 tbsp Black gram | Urad dal
1 tbsp green gram with skin | Moong sabut
1/2 Turmeric powder

To Crush in mortar-pestle:
1″ inch ginger
5 Cloves of garlic
2 green chilies

To make the Masala:
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 Bay leaf
1/8 tsp Asafoetida
3 dried chilies
2 cardamoms roughly crushed
2 medium size onion
puree of 2  tomatoes
2 tbsp Chopped Coriander leaves/cilantro
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp dried Mango powder
1/2 tsp dried Kasoori methi – crushed

For smoked flavor:

1 small piece of charcoal (for infusing the aroma, not to add in the dish!)
1 tsp ghee


Wash and soak the lentils in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes. Pressure Cook the lentils with turmeric for 4-5 whistles or until they are fully cooked. Once cooked, mash the lentils to a smooth consistency.

Using a mortar-pestle, crush ginger, garlic and green chilies.

In a large, heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tbsp ghee and 1 tbsp oil over medium heat. Add the Cumin seeds, Bay leaf, dried red Chili, Asafoetida, roughly crushed cardamom and finally the crushed mixture. Saute for 20 seconds for the garlic flavor to infuse into the ghee-oil mixture.

Add chopped onions and ¼ tsp salt, cook till onions change color to light brown. Add tomato purée, salt to taste and cook for 10-12 mins or until the oil begins to separate from the sides.

Mix 1 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander leaves, Cumin powder, Garam masala, Kashmiri red Chili powder (for color optional), Coriander powder, dried Mango powder (amchoor) and crushed kasoori methi. Mix well and cook for another 4 mins.

Add the cooked lentil and cook for 5 mins to let the masala and lentil blend well. Add ½ cup water or more to bring it desired consistency.

If you prefer the smoked flavor: Heat a small piece of charcoal until its red. Place a small stainless steel bowl in the dal (make sure it doesn’t sink into the dal). Place the hot charcoal and drizzle a few drops of ghee on the charcoal. Cover the pan and let the dal simmer for 7-8 minutes.

Garnish with 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro/coriander leaves before serving with Roti, Paratha or rice.

Happy Cooking.

2 Responses to Dhaba style Dal

  1. Wow! I never realized Dal could be so different.. Gonna try this out sometime or try eating this sometime, guessing we get the charcoal in Indian stores.. Keep the recipes coming yo! :)

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