Gujarati dahl

Written By Reena on 1 Oct 2010 | 05:00

When Steve and I were married in Gujarat we were touched when twenty or so of our friends and family came to India to attend the wedding.

On their first evening in Surat (my family's home town) our guests ate in the hotel restaurant and ordered rice with their meals.  They became gradually more frustrated as their curries became colder and the rice still hadn't arrived.  When Steve explained that they wanted the rice with their main courses the waiter was very confused; Gujaratis eat dahl (also spelt daal, dhal and dal) with rice at the end of every meal.  They eat roti (chappatis) with the main course.  My mum believes that you can only be fully satisfied following a meal if you end it with dahl and rice.

This is my mum's dahl recipe.  I tend to serve it as a soup or an accompaniment to a main course rather than with rice.  However you choose to serve it I hope it leaves you sated.

Serves 2-3

  • 90 grams toor dahl
  • a pinch bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tomatoes - chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 15 grams jaggery or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons coriander-cumin powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light tasting vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 fenugreek seeds
  • 30 grams unsalted natural peanuts
  • a pinch asafoetida
  • 5 curry leaves (optional)
  • A small handful of fresh coriander - chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  1.  Place the toor dahl in a bowl and cover with hot water.  Leave to soak for 1 hour.
  2. Drain the dahl and place in a medium sized saucepan.  Add the bicarbonate of soda and 500 millilitres of cold water.  Stir the contents of the pan and bring to a gentle boil.
  3. Place a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. After 15 minutes add the chopped tomatoes.  Stir, place the lid back on the pan  and leave to simmer for another 15 minutes.  
  5. At this point the dahl should be soft.  If you have a hand blender, blend the contents of the pan thoroughly to leave a smooth consistency.  If you don't have a hand blender you can skip this step but you will have a more coarse dahl.
  6. Add the lemon juice, jaggery, chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and coriander-cumin powder to the pan and stir well.  Put the lid back on the pan and leave to simmer on a very low heat.
  7. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
  8. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and leave to sizzle and cook for a minute or two.
  9. Add the peanuts and asafoetida and let them cook for a minute.
  10. Carefully add the dahl to the saucepan with the peanuts.  Caution: The dahl will react with the hot oil and may spit at you if you add it too quickly.
  11. Add the curry leaves if you have them.  Stir the contents of the pan and taste to check the seasoning.  Add salt or lemon juice as required.
  12. Put the lid on the saucepan and leave to cook on a low heat for 5 minutes or so.
  13. Just before serving garnish with the coriander and garam masala.
  14. Serve with rice either as a main course or following a tasty curry.

About Reena


  1. Hello Reena!
    This is my first time around in your blog and your Gujrati dahl just seems awesome!You have a lovely space in here and I really enjoy reading your posts so much that I have become your follower:)and yes, even I do get very happy when I get a comment on my blog;)so do hop into my place sometime and hope to hear from you!so long,happy blogging!:)

  2. I tried your coriander pesto a couple of months ago so knew your recipes could be trusted and am so glad I tried this one. It was delicious, we had it with tandoori marinated rack of lamb but it was delicious the day after too with a chappati, thank you for a wonderful recipe! :)

  3. Hi Dreamalittle. Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know about both recipes. I'm glad that they are working well. I test each one at least three times so hopefully they should all work - but do let me know if you have any questions, improvements or suggestions! Also, the tandoori marinated rack of lamb sounds amazing so please feel free to send the recipe if you have a spare minute.
    All the best. Reena

  4. wondering why you use oil rather than Ghee in your recipes? its such a healthy oil and imparts such wonderful flavor to dishes.
    thanks for your thoughts on this.

  5. Hi Sheila. i agree with you. However no one in my family uses much ghee and so I grew up eating dishes made with oil and that's how I still cook today. Great question! Best regards. Reena

  6. Oi, I am just about to make this but I don't want it to be too runny. Kindly post a stiffer one (madam) instantly. BYE xxx

  7. Hi Lucy. Sigh. It's meant to be runny. But if you think you know better then you could either keep the lid off whilst doing step 12 until you get the right thickness. Or you could make it the day before and then reheat it - it will have thickened overnight. Let me know how it goes. Reena