Dhaabay Di Dal


How to Cook Indian

Published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Dhaabas are the roadside eateries that dot most of the highways in India, and this dal is a favorite on their menus. Serve with steamed rice.


Cooking Methodsauteeing



Total Timehalf-day

OccasionFamily Get-together

Recipe Courseside dish, starch

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturecreamy, herby, savory, spiced


  • ½ cup (100 grams) chilkewali urad dal (split black gram with skin)
  • ¼ cup (50 grams) chana dal (split Bengal gram)
  • ½ cup (115 grams) cooked red kidney beans (canned is fine)
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1-inch (2½-cm) piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 green chiles, stemmed and chopped
  • ½ tablespoon ground roasted cumin(see below)
  • 1 tablespoon red chile powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ teaspoons table salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)


  1. Place the dals in a large bowl, wash them in plenty of water 2 or 3 times, and drain. Add 2 cups (400 ml) water and soak for at least 6 hours. Drain the dals in a colander.

  2. Place a medium nonstick saucepan over high heat and add 6 cups (1.5 liters) water. When the water begins to boil, add the dal and bring to a boil again. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 1 hour.

  3. Add the kidney beans, stir well, and cook for 10 minutes.

  4. Place a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. When small bubbles appear at the bottom of the pan, add the ginger and garlic, and sauté for 1 minute or until golden brown. Add the onion and chiles, and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes or until the onion is golden brown.

  5. Add the cumin and chile powder, and sauté for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook over high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the dal mixture and butter, and stir well.

  6. Add the salt and cilantro, and stir. Lower the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  7. Crush the kasoori methi between your palms and sprinkle it over the dal.

  8. Remove from the heat and pour the dal into a serving bowl. Serve immediately.

  9. Ground Roasted Cumin

  10. This is an excellent topping for raitas (yogurt sauces) or chaats.

  11. Makes 6 tablespoons (30 grams)

  12. 4½ tablespoons cumin seeds

  13. Place a small nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the cumin and dry-roast until lightly colored. Set aside to cool completely.

  14. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

  15. Store in an airtight container.


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