Dal Fry

Dal fry – pigeon pea lentil or toor dal cooked with onion, tomatoes and aromatic spices. This humble dal fry has come a long way from road side punjabi dhabas to restaurants all over the world. Creamy, rich and smooth dal fry is a perfect accompaniment to rice and roti/flatbread.

Lentils are an integral part of Indian food and is a staple across all regions and states. A large number of Indians are vegetarians and dal is the main source of protein for them. Pigeon pea or toor dal is the most commonly used dal in Indian cooking.

Lentils have been part of the human diet – archaeological evidence shows they were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago. The cultivation of the pigeon pea goes back at least 3,500 years. The centre of origin is probably peninsular India, where the closest wild relatives occur in tropical deciduous woodlands. Archaeological finds of pigeon pea dating to about 3400 years ago have been found in south India and its border areas in Maharashtra and Orissa. From India it travelled to East Africa and West Africa. There, it was encountered by Europeans, so it obtained the name Congo Pea. By means of the slave trade, it came to the American continent, probably in the 17th century. Today, pigeon pea is widely cultivated in all tropical and semitropical regions of both the Old and the New Worlds. (Source: Wiki)

Toor dal is well-known for its health benefits. It is a rich source of protein, fiber and folic acid.

To make dal fry, I boil toor dal in a pressure cooker. (If you don’t have access to pressure cooker, soak the dal in water for 15-20 minutes. Wash it thoroughly and boil in a sauce pan with sufficient water). I then sautée onion, ginger, garlic and then add tomatoes and spices to it. Once the tomatoes are cooked and mushy, I add the boiled dal and simmer it till it comes together. I finish it with some ghee/butter and garam masala.

Add this healthy, tasty restaurant quality dish to your diet for an excellent non meat protein source. Perfect with rice or flatbread.


dal fry


Pigeon pea lentil (toor dal) – 1 cup
Onion – 1 medium, finely chopped
Tomato – 2 medium, finely chopped
Ginger – ½ inch, grated or 1 tsp ginger paste
Garlic – 2 cloves, grated or 1 tsp garlic paste
Oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Bay leaf – 1-2
Asafoetida (hing) – a pinch
Cumin powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp or as per taste
Butter/Ghee – 1 tbsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) – a few
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish
Juice of half a lemon


  1. Boil toor dal with water and few drops of oil until completely cooked and tender
  2. In a fry pan or kadai, heat oil. Add cumin seeds and let it splutter. Add hing, bay leaves and onion. Saute until onion is golden brown
  3. Add ginger, garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes until the raw smell disappears
  4. Add tomato, turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, salt and mix well
  5. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the tomatoes are completely cooked and oil separates from it
  6. Add the boiled dal and mix well. Simmer for 5-10 minutes
  7. Add garam masala and butter. Crush the dried fenugreek leaves in between your palm and add it to the dal
  8. Mix well and simmer for 1-2 minutes
  9. Turn off the heat and squeeze in the lemon juice
  10. Serve hot
Saute onion, ginger, garlic

Saute onion, ginger, garlic

Cook tomatoes and spices till oil seperates

Cook tomatoes and spices till oil seperates


Add boiled dal and simmer

Add boiled dal and simmer