How to Make Dal (Indian Lentil Stew)

Delicious and simple to make, Indian lentil stew, or dal, is a warm and filling dish full of fiber and other healthy nutrients.


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You Will Need

  • 3/4 c. yellow split peas
  • 3/4 c. toor dal, or dried split pigeon peas
  • 3/4 c. dried red lentils
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large tomato, diced into 1/2-in. pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • Medium cast-iron casserole pot


  1. Step 1

    Rinse the lentils

    Remove any debris from the lentils and rinse lentils quickly in the sink. No need to presoak them.

  2. Step 2

    Boil lentils

    Add the yellow split peas, the toor dal, and red lentils to a medium-sized, enamel cast-iron pot. Add water until the peas and lentils are covered by 1 1/2 inches, and place the dish over high heat. Bring to a boil.

  3. Step 3

    Simmer for 1 hour, 15 minutes

    Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for an hour and 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, and cook until the red lentils and toor dal break down and the split yellow peas are tender. Remove the dish from the heat.

  4. Step 4

    Heat oil and cumin seeds

    Add the vegetable oil to a large skillet placed on medium-high heat. Heat until the oil begins to shimmer, add the cumin seeds, and cook for one minute, until the seeds darken.

  5. Step 5

    Chop the onions

    Chop the onions and mince the garlic, using a dash of salt to keep the garlic from sticking to your knife. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and continue cooking, stirring frequently. Cook until the onion is golden brown, or about 6minutes.

  6. Step 6

    Add spices and tomato

    Add the coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper to the onions, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring a few more times, for another 2 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

  7. Step 7

    Add skillet mixture to lentils

    Add the onion and tomato mixture in the skillet to the casserole dish with the lentils. Stir, return the dish to low heat, and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt to taste.

  8. Refrigerate the dal mixture before adding butter and cilantro for up to 3 days. Reheat, and add a bit of water if the mixture is too thick.

  9. Step 8

    Stir in butter and cilantro

    Stir in the butter and cilantro, and mix until the butter is completely melted. Serve immediately with naan or rice.

  10. 1 cup of lentils provides you with almost 70 percent of your daily recommended amount of dietary fiber.