How to Make Delicious Dal: A Guide for Beginners

Welcome to our article on how to make a delicious and healthy dal! This flavorful Indian dish has become a popular choice among foodies all over the world, and for good reason. Not only is it packed with protein and other essential nutrients, it is also incredibly easy to prepare.

In this article, we will be sharing with you 12 simple steps to make dal at home, along with some helpful tips and tricks to ensure your dal turns out perfectly every time. So, let’s get started!

Steps how to make a dal

Step #1: Soak the lentils

The first step in making dal is to soak your lentils. Rinse them in cold water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This will help remove any dirt or debris, as well as make them cook more quickly and evenly. Some popular lentils used in dal include red lentils, split chickpeas (chana dal), and mung beans.

Step #2: Chop your onions and garlic

While your lentils are soaking, go ahead and chop up your onions and garlic. These will add a nice savory flavor to your dal. You can also add some ginger if you like.

Step #3: Heat up some oil

Heat up some oil in a pot or pressure cooker. Once it is hot, add your onions and garlic and sauté them until they become soft and translucent.

Step #4: Add your spices

Next, it’s time to add some spices! Traditional spices used in dal include turmeric, cumin, coriander, and garam masala. You can also add some chili powder or fresh chili peppers if you like it spicy. Sauté your spices with the onions and garlic for about a minute to release their flavors.

Step #5: Add your lentils and water

Once your onions and spices are nicely sautéed, it’s time to add your lentils and water. For every cup of lentils, add three cups of water. If you are using a pressure cooker, make sure the water level does not exceed the recommended capacity. Add some salt to taste.

Step #6: Bring to a boil

Bring your dal to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let it cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and fully cooked.

Step #7: Mash the lentils

Once your lentils are fully cooked, use a potato masher or immersion blender to mash them up. This will help create a creamy and smooth texture for your dal.

Step #8: Prepare your tempering

Tempering is the process of heating up some oil or ghee and frying some spices in it to release their flavors. To make your tempering, heat up some oil or ghee in a separate pan and add some cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and dried red chili peppers. Fry them until they begin to pop and release their aromas.

Step #9: Add your tempering to your dal

Once your tempering is ready, pour it over your dal. This will give it a nice flavor boost and make it look extra fancy!

Step #10: Garnish with cilantro and lemon

To finish off your dal, garnish it with some fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lemon juice. This will add some brightness and freshness to the dish.

Step #11: Serve hot with rice or bread

Your delicious dal is now ready to be served! It goes great with some steamed rice or naan bread. Enjoy!

Step #12: Store leftovers properly

If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. You can also freeze them for up to three months. To reheat, simply microwave or heat up on the stove with a bit of water.

Explanation how to make a dal

Now that you know the steps to make dal, let’s go over some helpful explanations to make sure you get it right!

First and foremost, it’s important to use the right kind of lentils. Red lentils, split chickpeas (chana dal), and mung beans are all good options for dal. You can also mix and match different types of lentils for a unique flavor.

Soaking your lentils before cooking them is essential for a few reasons. It removes any dirt or debris, and also helps them cook more quickly and evenly. You should ideally soak them for at least 30 minutes, but you can leave them soaking for longer if you like.

Sautéing your onions, garlic, and spices before adding your lentils and water is a key step in building flavor. Make sure to use enough oil or ghee to coat the bottom of your pot or pressure cooker, and sauté your ingredients until they are fragrant and soft.

When cooking your dal, it’s important to check the water level and stir it occasionally. You may need to add more water if it starts to dry out. The cooking time will vary depending on the type of lentils you are using, so make sure to keep an eye on them and test for doneness.

Mashing your lentils at the end is an optional step, but it will help create a smoother and creamier texture for your dal. You can also skip this step if you prefer a chunkier texture.

Finally, tempering your dal with fried spices is a great way to add extra flavor and depth. Make sure to fry your spices until they start to pop and release their aromas, and pour them over your dal right before serving.

Tips and Tricks how to make a dal

1. Don’t skimp on the spices! Dal should be flavorful and aromatic, so use plenty of spices to achieve the perfect balance.

2. Use a pressure cooker for faster cooking times and a creamier texture.

3. Experiment with different types of lentils and spices to create unique flavors.

4. Add some diced tomatoes or coconut milk for a fun twist on traditional dal.

5. Leftover dal can be repurposed into soups, stews, or even veggie burgers.

6. If you are using a stovetop pot to cook your dal, make sure to keep an eye on it and stir it occasionally to prevent burning.

7. You can also add some vegetables like spinach, carrots, or bell peppers to your dal for added nutrition and flavor.

8. Always use fresh ingredients for the best results.

9. Serve your dal hot with some steamed rice or naan bread for a complete meal.

10. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make it your own! Cooking is all about having fun and trying new things.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Making Dal at Home


1. Customizable flavors: By making your own dal, you can adjust the level of spices, salt, and other ingredients for a flavor that suits your preference.

2. Cost-effective: Cooking your own dal at home can save you money compared to buying pre-made dal or ordering it from a restaurant.

3. Healthier option: Homemade dal allows you to control the ingredients and avoid preservatives, artificial flavors, and excessive sodium that may be present in pre-made dal.

4. Feeding a crowd: Dal is a great option for feeding a large group of people, and making it at home allows you to make a big batch to serve everyone.

5. Cultural connection: Making a traditional dish like dal at home can be a way to connect with your cultural heritage and share it with others.

6. Learning experience: Making dal from scratch can be a fun and educational experience for those who enjoy cooking and trying new recipes.

7. Fresh ingredients: Making your own dal ensures the use of fresh ingredients, which can enhance the flavor and nutritional value of the dish.

8. Reduced food waste: When making your own dal, you can use leftover ingredients and reduce food waste.

9. Cooking control: You have complete control over the cooking process, allowing you to adjust the texture and consistency of the dal to your liking.

10. Satisfaction: There is a sense of satisfaction that comes with making your own food, especially when it turns out delicious!


1. Time-consuming: Making homemade dal can be time-consuming, especially if you are using dried legumes that require soaking or long cooking times.

2. Ingredient preparation: Preparing the necessary ingredients, such as chopping vegetables and measuring spices, can be time-consuming and require additional equipment.

3. Dish cleanup: Cooking dal at home may require cleaning several pots, pans, and utensils, adding to the amount of dishwashing you need to do.

4. Margin for error: Cooking dal from scratch means there is a higher margin for error, such as overcooking, undercooking, or using the wrong ratio of ingredients.

5. Requires cooking skills: Making dal from scratch may require some cooking skills and knowledge, which can intimidate those who are less experienced in the kitchen.

6. Quality consistency: Homemade dal may not have the same consistency or flavor as store-bought or restaurant dal, which can be a disadvantage for those who prefer consistency.

7. Limited variety: Making your own dal may limit the variety of dal flavors you can try, especially if you are new to making the dish.

8. Equipment requirements: Some recipes may require specialized equipment, such as a pressure cooker or spice grinder, which can be a disadvantage for those who do not have access to these tools.

9. Storage concerns: Homemade dal may not have a long shelf life and may require special storage considerations to avoid spoilage.

10. Energy consumption: Making dal from scratch may require the use of multiple kitchen appliances, such as a stove, oven, and blender, which can increase energy consumption and utility costs.


What is dal?

Dal is a popular dish in Indian cuisine made from lentils or split peas.

What ingredients are needed to make dal?

The basic ingredients needed to make dal are lentils or split peas, water, oil, onion, garlic, ginger, spices such as cumin, coriander and turmeric, and salt.

What are some variations of dal?

There are many variations of dal such as toor dal, chana dal, mung dal, urad dal and masoor dal. Each type of dal has a unique taste and texture.

How do you prepare the lentils or split peas before cooking?

The lentils or split peas should be thoroughly washed and soaked for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This helps to remove any dirt and reduce the cooking time.

What is the cooking time for dal?

The cooking time for dal will vary depending on the type of lentil or split peas used. Generally, it takes 20-30 minutes to cook dal until it becomes soft and tender.

What can I serve with dal?

Dal can be served with rice, naan bread, or roti. It can also be eaten as a soup or mixed with vegetables.

Can I make dal in a pressure cooker?

Yes, dal can be cooked in a pressure cooker to save time. It usually takes 5-10 minutes to cook dal in a pressure cooker.

How do I store leftover dal?

Leftover dal can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. It can also be frozen for up to 2-3 months.

Can I add meat to dal?

Yes, meat such as chicken or lamb can be added to dal to make it a more filling meal.

How do I make dal spicier?

To make dal spicier, you can add more red chilli powder or green chillies to the recipe. You can also add garam masala for a stronger flavour.

What is ghee and can I use it to make dal?

Ghee is clarified butter that has been used in Indian cooking for centuries. It adds a rich flavour to dal and can be used to replace oil in the recipe.

What are some common mistakes when making dal?

Some common mistakes when making dal include not soaking the lentils or split peas before cooking, overcooking or undercooking the dal, and not using enough spices or seasoning.

Can I make dal in advance for a party or gathering?

Yes, dal can be made in advance and reheated before serving. It is a great dish to make for a large gathering as it is easy to prepare and serves many people.

Conclusion: How to Make a Dal

Dal is a staple dish in many Indian households and it is known for its simple recipe and delicious taste. By following these steps, you can make a perfect dal every time. First, choose your lentils and wash them thoroughly. Then, add them to a pot with water and let them cook on low heat. In a separate pan, sauté your spices and vegetables before adding them to the lentils. Let it simmer until the lentils are fully cooked and enjoy with rice or naan.

If you are new to making dal, don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to get it right. Practice makes perfect and you will eventually find a recipe and cooking method that works best for you. Experiment with different spices and lentils to find unique flavor combinations that suit your taste buds.

Closing: How to Make a Dal

Thank you for reading this guide on how to make a dal. Whether you are an experienced cook or a beginner in the kitchen, this recipe is a great addition to any meal. Not only is it easy to make, but it is also nutritious and flavorful. Don’t forget to share this recipe with your family and friends and enjoy your delicious dal!

Until next time, happy cooking!