This comforting, aromatic dal will stand alone as a main dish – or you can add it to your next curry spread.  






Skill level

Average: 3.9 (65 votes)


  • 330 g (1½ cups) yellow split peas, rinsed and soaked for 2 hours
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 3 red Asian shallots, finely chopped
  • 2-3 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • salt, to taste

Tempered spices

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 3 sprigs of curry leaves, leaves stripped
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 dried red chillies

To serve

  • pappadams and steamed rice

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time: 2 hours


1. Drain the soaked split peas and set aside.

2. Heat the ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots, ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add turmeric and chilli powder and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the split peas and stir to coat well. Pour in 1 litre of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender but still have a bit of texture.

3. Just before the split peas are cooked, for the tempered spices, heat the ghee in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the curry leaves followed by all the other ingredients and stir for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from heat and pour the hot tadka into the dal, stirring to combine well. Check the seasoning before serving with some pappadums and basmati rice.


Diana Chan and guests explore the flavours of Asia from her Melbourne home in the second series of Asia Unplated.