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The British Dal Festival 2019 is almost here


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The British Dal Festival kicks off on the 10th February 2019 in celebration of the first ever United Nations World Pulse day. 

With this in mind, we have some delicious dal recipes for you try.

Dal Makhani

Dal Makhani is a rich Punjabi dal of urad gram (also known as whole urad beans or black lentils) and rajma (red kidney beans), rather than the split lentils or peas used for most dals. The name literally means “buttery dal”.

Image and recipe credits: British Dal Festival


1/2 cup (100g) Urad Gram (Whole Urad Beans / Black Lentils)
2 tbsp (25g) Rajma (Whole Red Kidney Beans)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
2 in Ginger, chopped
3 tbsp Butter
1 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
6 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 large Onion, chopped
2 Green Chillies, split
2 medium Tomatoes
1 tsp Garam Masala powder


Pick, wash and soak the pulses (urad gram and rajma) overnight in three cups of water. Drain.

Place the pulses in a large pan with three cups of water with salt and half the red chilli powder.

Cover and bring to the boil, allow to boil vigorously for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat and simmer for a further 30 minutes or until tender. (If using a pressure cooker, bring to full pressure and cook for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave to cool and return to normal pressure.)

Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds. When they begin to change colour, add the ginger, garlic and onion and sauté until golden.

Dal Saag

Split Yellow Pea & Spinach Dal - Jenny Chandler, the author of the superb recipe book Pulse, created this recipe for Hodmedod's British-grown split yellow peas. A variant on classic chana dal, this can be served as part of an Indian feast or eaten for a comforting simple supper with some flatbread or rice.

Image and recipe credits: British Dal Festival


250g Split Yellow Peas
½ tsp Turmeric
About 1 litre Water
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Whole Cumin Seeds
1 Onion, finely diced
3cm piece of Ginger, finely diced
2 dried Red Chillis, chopped (or any fresh or dried, green or red, depending on your preference for heat
2 cloves Garlic
½ tsp Ground Coriander
½ tsp Garam Masala
200g Chopped Tinned Tomatoes (or 4 skinned and chopped ripe tomatoes, if in season)
200g Fresh Spinach, washed and roughly chopped (if using baby spinach, just leave it whole)
Handful Fresh Coriander, chopped (optional, to garnish)
Pinch Amchur - dried sour mango (optional, to garnish)


Rinse the split peas in a sieve, place in a large saucepan with the turmeric and cover with about 1 litre of cold water.

Bring the pan up to the boil and then cover and simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour until the peas are quite soft and creamy. You may need to add more water as the peas cook; I like my dal to have quite a thick texture and some discernible peas whilst others prefer a soupier creamy finish.

Whilst the peas are cooking you can fry up the spiced tomato mixture in a small frying pan.

Heat up the oil and fry off the whole cumin seeds until fragrant.

Add the onion, chilli and ginger and cook for about 10 minutes until the onion begins to soften.

Turn up the heat and stir in the garlic, coriander and garam masala, cooking just until you are enveloped in all the wonderful smells. Add the tomatoes and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Once the split peas are soft and cooked through you can add the tomato mixture, along with a pinch of salt, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Throw in the spinach at the last moment, it barely requires any cooking at all, just a couple of minutes in the hot dal will wilt it beautifully. Kale or Swiss chard are also great options and take about 5 minutes to cook in the dal over medium heat.

You could add chopped fresh coriander or a pinch of amchur powder (dried sour mango) just before serving.

Serve hot with plain rice or flatbread.

Peas Bhaji (Pattal Bhaji or Tonak)

This dal is a fantastic lentil dish with rich spices. It goes great with basmati rice and is simple and easy to make.

Image and recipe credits: British Dal Festival


1 cup dried yellow peas/vatana
1/2 cup onion
3/4 cup coconut (preferably dry coconut)
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp tamarind extract or 1-2 pieces of tamarind


Soak pulses in water (If you are using yellow/green peas, soak it overnight).

Pressure cook until they are soft.

Heat a little oil and fry 1/4 cup onion. When the onion turns brownish, add coconut and fry till coconut also turns brownish. Grind it with the tamarind.

Heat a little oil and fry onions. Add chilli powder, garam masala, the paste (see above), the cooked pulses and salt.

Cook for 7-8 minutes. Make sure the bhaji should be watery (pattal).

Serve with pav or chapathi.


This rich, creamy vegan dal recipe works perfectly as an Indian main dish. A filling and tasty dish to create. 

Image and recipe credits: British Dal Festival


1 cup gahat or kulath (horse gram)
1/2 cup oil (preferably mustard oil)
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch ginger
1 tsp jakhiya or cumin
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp dry coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
3 cups water
ghee, for garnish


Soak the gahat daal in water overnight. If using arhar daal, soak for 1-2 hours.

In the morning wash and rub the daal in running water so that it is free of seed covering (chilka). Then, grind it into a dry thick paste in a mixer or on a silbatta along with green chillies, garlic and ginger.

Place a tawa on a moderate flame. Put some oil and make thick pancakes (like cutlets) from the daal paste. Use only half of the paste for making the cakes.

Mix water with the remaining paste making it of pouring consistency. Heat oil in a pan and add jakhiya seeds and hing. Now add gahat paste, turmeric powder, dry coriander powder and salt.

Cover and cook for about 10 minutes on slow fire. Add the gahat cakes to the gravy and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. The gravy should have pouring consistency. If too thick, add some more water and heat until it boils.

Garnish with pure ghee and chopped coriander leaves.

Serve with steamed rice.

Punj Rattani Dal

Punj Rattani Dal, "Dal of Five Jewels", is a dal fit for a feast, made of 5 different pulses - chana dal (split chickpea), toor dal (split pigeon pea), sabut moong (whole mung bean), sabut urad (black gram) and sabut masoor (whole red lentil).

Image and recipe credits: British Dal Festival


7 tsp Sabut Moong (Whole Mung Bean), Sabut Masoor (Whole Brown Lentil), Sabut Urad (Whole
Urad Bean), Chana Dal (Split Chickpea), Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Pea)
2 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/3 cup finely chopped onions
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp fennel powder
1/3 cup finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tbsp butter
1 roma tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup yoghurt, lightly whisked
1/2 tsp garam masala


Wash the lentils well and let soak in water for an hour. Drain.

Heat the ghee in a large saucepan, or pressure cooker. Add the cumin seeds and sauté over medium heat until they begin to sizzle.

Add in the chopped onions and cook until light brown.

Add the lentils and fry for 4-5 minutes. Since the original recipe calls for 6 tbsp, and I use only 2 tbsp, it is important to keep stirring the lentils, as they tend to stick without the extra fat.

Add approx. 2 litres water and bring the lentils to a boil. Reduce to low heat and remove any scum.

Add coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Cover and simmer until lentils are cooked and two-thirds of the liquid has evaporated. When using the pressure cooker, after adding the water, I immediately add in the coriander, red chilli and turmeric powder, put the lid of the cooker on, and let it cook for about 3-4 whistles. Then I lower the heat and keep on the flame for 20-25 minutes. Once the pressure leaves, open the lid and proceed as follows.

Mash the lentils lightly against the sides with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle cumin powder and fennel powder stir for 2-3 minutes. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

For the tempering, melt butter in a small saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add in the tomatoes, yoghurt and garam masala and fry over medium heat until the fat leaves the sides. You will see the butter floating on the sides. Add this mixture immediately to the cooked lentils and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Garnish with coriander and serve with any Indian flatbread or rice

Sultani Dal

A classic Indian dish, dal goes as well with hot chapatis as it does with plain boiled rice. A firm favourite.

Image and recipe credits: British Dal Festival


1 cup soaked toovar (arhar) dal
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup curds (dahi)
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
5 cloves (laung / lavang)
2 chopped green chillies
1 tbsp chopped mint leaves
3 tbsp ghee
salt to taste
1 charcoal


Combine the milk, cream and curd in a bowl, mix well and keep aside. Grind the cardamoms and cloves and keep aside.

Boil the dal along with salt and chilli powder in 2 1/2 cups of water until soft and mash well.

Place a small container on the dal and keep a live charcoal in it. Pour 1 tsp of ghee over it and immediately cover it for 10 minutes.

Mix together the cream mix, clove paste and saffron. Remove the cover, add this paste to the dal and simmer on low flame for 3-4 minutes.

Heat the remaining ghee and temper with the cumin seeds and garlic. Add to the dal and mix well.

Serve hot, garnished with green chillies and mint leaves.

Hope these recipes inspire you!

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