My mom's best kept secret - Dahl!

This one is a true heirloom recipe.  Sagie and I guarded it over the years carefully, but decided it's time to share it.  Over the years it was our pleasure to host and serve this to our friends and family and for all those who were curious, here is the recipe that goes along with it! Goes really well over plain basmati rice or with Indian bread (chapati or Bahkri) on the side.  These vibrant orange red lentils will turn yellow as they cook.  Rich in protein, fiber, iron and some essential amino acids. Great for a vegetarian diet, budget meal or vegerarian Mondays which I try to adhere to, sometimes not too successfully. It's low fat and tastes delicious.  Serve it along with Mango chutney as a condiment. All ingredients can be found in local supermarkets. This is dedicated to my son Sagie, and future shared memories and traditions for generations to come, and for my adopted daughter Sarah, who is crazy about Dahl!! 

My Mom's Dahl 

1 cup washed and drained red lentils
1 large onion, diced
2-4 tablespoons canola oil
Salt to taste
1 large tomato, diced
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 jalapeño, sliced into thin discs (1/2 jalapeño or seeded depending on taste)
4 cups plus water*

On medium heat, in a large pot, drop the cumin and mustard seeds in oil for couple of minutes. Let it quickly sizzle so the essential oils and aromas release. Immediately after sizzle add the onions and jalapeño and sauté together with the seeds for until the jalapeño and onion are soft and translucent. Add the tomato and cook for a few minutes longer. Stir throughout the process and adjust heat if needed so your ingredients don't burn. Add lentils, garlic, water*, turmeric and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and turn to medium heat, cover with lid, and cook until lentils are very soft and fall completely apart. Stir occasionally. Mash with a potato masher for smooth creamy consistency. If you like texture, mash only the cooked garlic with a fork and mix.

Serve over simply steamed basmati rice. Can also be served along with Indian Bahdgi and Mango Chutney. Recipe can be doubled!!

Author's Notes:  *Traditionally dahl has a thicker stew-like consistency and served over rice. Throughout the years I added more water and made it my go to soup year-round. The range of 2-4 cups of water reflects stew-like soup-like the consistency. Make sure to stir the dahl once in a while when cooking, so it won't burn at the bottom. Servings depending on consistency and portions. 


  1. Looks so good! I want this for lunch NOW!

  2. I swear one day I will make an elaborate meal for you and Mark!

  3. This looks absolutely delicious. A Hyderabadi friend of mine makes a similar dal. Where is your family from in India?

    I'm a Gujarati Jain through and through. I love sharing my unknown cuisine with people.

  4. Thanks so much it means a lot!! Hyderabadi, isn't that funny? My parents lived just south of Bombay. I make the Dahl a bit more liquidy than even my mom's but that is the only difference, it thickens by the next day anyways:). Hmmm, we lived in Israel for couple of years 10 years back and met a small community of Jain, not sure if Gujarati (diamond dealers from India) that lived within the ex-patriot community. Sent their kids to the American school. Luckily I was involved and learned some about the special diet veg. garlic free, etc), they were very involved w/the Indian Embassy there as was nice to go to some of the events at the Embassy too! Stay in touch! Shulie

  5. This is not a joke. I promise. I JUST bought lentils that color and have not even considered what to do with them! LOVELY...and the photos are great too1

  6. This looks incredible. I am always looking for new ways to cook with lentils.

  7. i have these lentils in my pantry and LOVE them . . . but have never made dahl . . . that is about to change!!

  8. We all love lentils here. This looks very good!!

  9. I happened to be looking for some thing special to make for my elderly friend coming over for dinner. i came across your page. I simply LOVE it.I love, love the photos. I wish I had them for my home. The colors are stunning. I will make this dhal for my friend for sure, and serve it with some rice and chutney. thank you so much

  10. Your page came up when I googled for daal recipes and has been sitting in my tabs for the past couple of days having been selected as the most promising of the ones I came across. I finally made it tonight and wanted to come back to thank you - It came out delicious!

    What I liked about your recipe is that you make sure to toast the seasonings first to release their aroma, and then saute together with the garlic and onions to release theirs as well and mix with the seasonings. Most other recipes I came across call for just tossing all of these ingredients in a saucepan and start simmering, but I feel the extra steps you've outlined make it extra special. Thank you for sharing this.

  11. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I am going to try it today, it looks lovely.

  12. I too will be trying this recipe today. -26 C outside and in need of something to warm up my family. This dal should do the trick! Will serve with persian style basmati rice (crispy potatoes cooked in the bottom of the pot) and fabulous nan from Costco. Odd combination but will be delish!

  13. I have never made dal with red lentils! Only toor dal ~ but looking forward to trying this recipe. My mom's from hyderabad but moved to bombay after her marriage so the food is our home was a bit of both. Lovely pix!