Recipe courtesy of Maya Kaimal

Seasoned Dhal

Hindus have an infinite number of ways to flavor their daily dhal. This version is good for most split lentils, but it's best with thoor dhal, a flat golden legume favored for its sweet, earthy taste.
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  • Total: 1 hr
  • Prep: 1 hr
  • Yield: Serves 6
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1 cup thoor dhal, masoor dhal, or yellow split peas

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 dried red chili

10 fresh curry leaves (optional)

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Ground masala:

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon ghee (optional)


  1. In a large bowl wash the dhal in several changes of water; drain. Place the dhal and 2 1/2 cups water in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for 30 minutes (45 minutes for yellow split peas), or until the water is absorbed and the peas break up under pressure from the back of a sppon. Check to make sure it doesn't boil over.
  2. When the dhal has finished cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the mustard seeds to the oil and heat until they pop. When the popping subsides, toss in the dried red chili and curry leaves. After a few seconds, add the onion and fry until light brown. Put in the garlic and fry 1 minute. Next, add the ground masala and fry for another minute. Stir this mixture into the dhal, along with 1/2 cup water and the salt. Partially cover and continue simmering another 10 minutes, adding more water if the mixture is too thick. It should be the consistency of thick pea soup. Remove from the heat.
  3. Stir in the lemon juice and ghee. Taste for salt.