Dal Agrawal


1 cup toor dal
4.5 cups fresh water
1-2 small tomatoes, chopped (or the equivalent of canned chopped tomatoes)
2-3 small, hot fresh chiles, sliced open (or a few dried chilis, stems broken off)
3/4 to 1 tsp salt
1T canola oil
4 tsp cumin seeds
pinch asafoetida 
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp ground coriander (up to 2 tsp, if you really like the taste of coriander)

Lime or lemon wedges (optional)
Chopped cilantro (optional)


Rinse the lentils and put them in a big pot with the water.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the tomatoes, salt, and chiles.

Simmer until the lentils are soft (about 20 - 30 minutes).  If you like, you can skim off the unattractive foam that will collect on the surface.  It's easier to do this later on, when the foam gets thicker.

In a small saute pan heat the canola oil until very hot.  Add the asafoetida and cumin seeds.  Let sizzle for 20 to 30 seconds.  When the seeds are turning brown, add the turmeric powder and ground coriander. Cook another 20 seconds or so, and then dump all the spices and oil in with the lentils.  Swish some water from the lentils or a little fresh cold water in the saute pan to get out the remaining spices, and add the liquid to the dal.


- The ingredients are all very approximate. If you like a thinner or thicker soup, for example, use more or less water.  You can also use more cumin or chiles, depending on taste.

- In an Indian meal, the dal would be served in small bowls along with other foods.  However, the dal is also good served in a big bowl, like a western style soup, with some bread on the side.  Or cook some rice, and put the plain rice in a big bowl and top with the dal.

Page last updated: 1/19/09