Dhal is a simple meal of cooked, spiced beans, peas or lentils. It is high in protein and fibre. This recipe uses toor dal, or yellow split peas, but other varieties include urid, mung and masoor, to name just a few. To me, this recipe redefines dhal – it is so yummy that you can have it for dinner on its own, although it is perfect served with steamed rice or Indian bread. The fresh tomatoes and coriander give it real freshness and the asafoetida is worth seeking out to counter the gassy effects of the split peas – it is available from most Indian food stores.






Skill level

Average: 3.1 (345 votes)


  • 250 g toor dal (yellow split peas), washed and drained
  • 1 tsp turmeric 
  • 1 litre (4 cups) water
  • garlic cloves 
  • 1 cm piece of ginger
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil 
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds 
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds 
  • 2–3 dried chillies
  • 8–10curry leaves 
  • 1–2 tsp chilli powder
  • pinch of asafoetida powder 
  • 200 g chopped tomatoes 
  • coriander leaves

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.


1. Put the toor dal, turmeric and water in a heavy-based saucepan and boil for 45–60 minutes or until the peas are soft when pressed between the thumb and index finger.

2. Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to pound the garlic, ginger and a good pinch of salt to a paste. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over low heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the cumin seeds, dried chillies, curry leaves, chilli powder, asafoetida and ginger and garlic paste and fry until fragrant. Stir into the dhal.

3. Add the chopped tomato and simmer for another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and garnish with coriander leaves.


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