Yellow Indian dal recipe
This yellow lentil dal tastes amazing with some naan bread, or served over basmati rice. Easy and healthy one pot weeknight dinner that’s full of protein and amazing flavor.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- it’s healthy(1)
- vegan & vegetarian
- gluten free
- it’s a one pot meal
- quick and easy weeknight dinner
- high in protein
What is dal?
Dal is the generic Hindi word for dried legumes such as dry lentils, split peas, pigeon peas or beans. It also refers to the Indian dishes that are made from these ingredients.
Indian cooking uses many different types of dal such as masoor dal (red lentils), chana dal (split chickpeas), toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas) and urad dal (the black lentils used in the popular dish, dal makhani.)
Yellow moong dal is one of the most commonly used dals in Indian cuisine, and it’s what we’re using to make this recipe.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Yellow split lentils – Also called masoor dal. You can also use red lentils if you can’t find any yellow lentils. Red lentils are just a little sweeter, but it will still taste amazing.
- Onions – I love using red onions for more flavor.
- Fresh ginger
- Oil – I use a high heat oil like avocado oil. Canola oil or olive oil will work as well.
- Cumin seeds
- Black mustard seeds – this is optional, but I love the flavor this adds.
- Red chili powder – you can also use cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or a serrano chili if you love heat. This will create some moderate heat in this recipe. If your personal preference is that you don’t like heat, feel free to leave this out.
- Turmeric powder
- Vegetable stock or broth
- Coriander powder
- Cumin powder
- Fresh lemon juice
If you don’t have all of the spices for this recipe, don’t worry, you can substitute for a generic curry powder. It will taste different, but will still get the job done.
If you have an Indian grocery store nearby, buy your ground spices and whole spices there. That is the cheapest way to buy them. You can also buy them online.
Check out this Indian spices blog post to get you started on what to buy to start your Indian cooking spices collection.
For a little smoother consistency, use an immersion blender to blend up some of the dal once it’s cooked.
Toasting the whole spices on medium heat in the oil for about a minute, helps to deepen their flavor.
If you make Indian food a lot or any Asian food, I really recommend a rice cooker. It will save your sanity and always cook you perfect rice. You can always use a pressure cooker as well. I have two, so I can cook my curry in one and rice in the other.
Storing and making ahead
Fridge – Store this in an airtight container for up to five days.
Freezer – Cooked dal freezes very well. Just keep it in a freezer friendly container and it will keep for about 3 months. Let it thaw out in the fridge before heating it back up.
What to serve with yellow dal
- Basmati rice
- Brown rice
- White rice
- Naan bread
- Chapati bread
- Jeera rice
Do I have to soak the lentils?
There is no need to soak the lentils since lentils cook pretty quickly as is. If you’d like to cut down on the cooking time even more, feel free to use soaked lentils, but it’s not required.
Can I make this in an instant pot?
Yes! This recipe works really well in a pressure cooker. Pressure cooker directions are included in the recipe card.
Is this recipe healthy?
Cooked lentils are very healthy! This Indian dish is full of vitamins, mineral and protein. Lentils also contain a lot of fiber that is healthy for your gut microbiome.
If you want this recipe to be even healthier, you can use less oil, or no oil, and cut down on the amount of salt by using lemon juice.
Is this gluten free?
Yes! This recipe just involves lentils, aromatics, oil and spices. If you serve this over rice, it will be completely gluten free. Just make sure your spices are certified gluten free if you’re serving this to someone with celiac disease.
More Indian recipes you’ll love
- Restaurant style chana masala
- Spinach and chickpea curry
- Vegan tika masala
- Aloo gobi matar
- Red lentil soup
- Hearty vegan clam chowder
- Chickpea and potato curry
If you made this recipe, leave a star rating on the recipe card and comment below
Yellow lentil dal
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional)
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional if you don't like spice)
- 1½ cups yellow lentils
- 3-4 cups vegetable broth
- 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- juice from half a lemon
- basmati rice
- Add oil to a large pan on medium heat. Let the oil heat up for a minute or two. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds and sauté for one minute.2 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- Add the onions and sauté until onions are trasluscent and lightly golden brown.1 medium onion
- Add the dry spices, garlic and ginger and sauté for 30 seconds.4 cloves garlic, ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, 1 teaspoon coriander powder, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- Add the yellow lentils, vegetable broth and salt and stir. Cover and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft and cooked. If the lentils are too thick, add in some more vegetable broth.1½ cups yellow lentils, 3-4 cups vegetable broth, 15 ounces canned diced tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt
- Add in the lemon juice and top with fresh cilantro. Serve over basmati ricejuice from half a lemon
The nutritional information on this website is only an estimate and is provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed. It should not be used as a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Pin this recipe to save for later