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Dal Fry Recipe

  • 14 min read

Dal fry recipes are some of our most popular recipes on this site because they’re so tasty and versatile.

They can be eaten as part of an Indian vegetarian or non-vegetarian meal.

You might not have tried making these dishes before but there’s no reason to wait!

Dal fry is just one of those simple yet flavorful dishes from India that everyone should try at least once.

It’s also super easy to make – all it takes is 15 minutes of active cooking time and less than 30 minutes of total preparation time.

What Are The Ingredients In Dal Fry?

The main ingredient in dal fry is lentils (also called pulses).

There are many varieties of lentils around the world such as red, green, yellow, brown, black, etc., each with their own unique flavor profile.

The ones we use here are split mung beans, which come from South Asia.

Mixed vegetables are another key component of dal fry.

You can choose your favorite vegetable depending on what you want to add to the food.

Some common options include potato, carrot, pumpkin, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, onion, and spinach.

Other ingredients like garlic, ginger, turmeric powder, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chili flakes, salt, and pepper will help bring out the flavors in the finished product.

Finally, oil is used to cook the dal fry.

We recommend using olive oil instead of any other type of cooking oil.

We hope you enjoy trying out this versatile and healthy dal fry recipe.

Let us know how it turns out by leaving a comment below!

dal fry recipe

How Do You Make Dal Fry?

To prepare dal fry, you will need:

  • 1 cup lentils (brown/red)
  • 3 cups vegetable stock (or water)
  • ½ tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • ½ onion chopped into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 green chillies sliced lengthwise
  • 1 tomato diced
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • A pinch of garam masala
  • Pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste
  • Basmati rice to serve
  • Instructions:
  • Rinse red lentil with cold water then drain them well.
  • In a pressure cooker add 1 cup of lentils along with 3 cups of vegetable stock or water.
  • Add cumin seeds, turmeric powder, salt, pepper flakes, and coriander powder.
  • Stir the mixture until everything is combined evenly.
  • Once the spices are mixed together, cover the pot and cook on high heat for 5 minutes.
  • After five minutes, remove lid, turn down heat to medium low and let the contents simmer for another 10 minutes.
  • While the content simmers, saute onions, garlic, and green chilies in 4 tablespoons of oil for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add tomato after two minutes.
  • Turn off heat and stir in ½ teaspoon of garam masala.
  • Return to stovetop and mix in ¾ cup of cooked lentils.
  • Cover again and return to heat.
  • Let it simmer for 5 more minutes.
  • Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt to taste.
  • Serve warm basmati rice alongside your dal fry.
dal fry recipe2

What Is The Best Dal Fry Recipe?

A good dal fry recipe will provide enough protein in each serving while being low in fat and calories.

We recommend using whole spices like black mustard seeds, fenugreek leaves, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and turmeric powder to get authentic flavors.

The key ingredient here is lentils (masoor dal), which has a mild flavor with a creamy texture.

Lentils pair well with other ingredients such as vegetables, fresh herbs, and seasonings.

Here are three different ways to cook masoor dal that we think are great options for your next dal fry:

  • Masoor dal stew – If you’d rather eat a more traditional dish, try this dal fry recipe made with masoor dal and tomato sauce.
  • You can use any kind of dried red beans, though kidney beans work especially well since they take longer to cook.
  • The end result is a thick soup that tastes delicious when served with naan bread.
  • Lentil chutney – For something slightly sweeter, consider this dal fry recipe with brown lentils and raisins.
  • The combination of sweet raisins and sour mangoes makes this chutney taste even better.
  • Lentil biryani – The final option for dal fry recipes is this classic Indian rice dish.
  • With the addition of saffron threads and basmati rice, this biryani is sure to impress guests.

What Is The Difference Between Dal Fry And Dal Tadka?

In order to understand what makes dal fry different from other dals (or lentils), let’s look at how they’re cooked first.

A traditional dal will only take about 45 minutes to cook in water with enough salt added.

However, dal fry has a much shorter cooking time which means it’s even easier to prepare.

The key difference here is the use of oil instead of water when preparing the dal fry.

The oil acts like a ‘binder’ and helps hold everything together while frying.

There are two main types of dal fry recipes available online:

  • Tadka/tarka method – where a small amount of oil is used to saute vegetables along with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, etc.
  • Rajma chawal style – where a larger quantity of oil is used to deep fry the whole dal without any additional ingredients being added during cooking.

If you want to know more about both methods then check out my article explaining them in detail.

dal fry recipe3

How Do You Make Dal Fry Crispy?

When I was in college, my dad made me eat dal fry every week.

He would cook them up with onions, potatoes, carrots, peas, and other seasonings.

The only problem was that they weren’t very crisp.

That’s why he used oil instead of ghee or clarified butter.

I decided to find out what makes dal fry crispy and how I could make them even more crunchy.

After doing some research, I found out that it all comes down to two things: frying temperature and amount of oil needed to achieve crispiness.

The first thing you need to know about fried food is that you want your oil to reach 350°F (180°C).

You will get crispier results if you use a deep-fryer rather than a pot of oil over medium heat.

But if you don’t own a deep-fryer, you can still achieve great results by using a large cast iron skillet or wok along with a thermometer.

Next, you must choose your oil wisely.

In dal fry recipes, people usually use sunflower oil or peanut oil.

However, both oils contain high amounts of saturated fat which isn’t good for your health.

So, if you want healthier options, look into olive oil, coconut oil, rice bran oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or sesame seed oil.

All of these oils contain healthy fats like monounsaturated fatty acids, polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin E.

Now let’s talk about the second ingredient: quantity.

If you follow any dal fry recipe online, you’ll notice that almost always, it calls for 1 tablespoon of oil.

Now, this may seem like a lot but remember that the oil needs to reach 350°F (180°C) or higher temperatures to become crispy.

So, when you start adding ingredients, add half of the oil required for each item until the oil gets hot enough.

Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t stir the items while they’re frying.

Instead, gently lift them from side to side after you put them in the pan.

This helps ensure even heating throughout the entire batch.

How Do You Make Dal Fry Without Onion And Garlic?

If you don’t want to include onions and garlic in your dal fry, then you will need to use other spices instead.

  • Cumin powder – A bit of cumin powder goes a long way when used in place of the onion and garlic.
  • You can add up to 2 teaspoons (10ml) per serving if you prefer more spice.
  • Asafetida – Asafetida is a type of resin found naturally in the roots of plants in South Asia.
  • The root has been known since ancient times for its medicinal properties.
  • In modern times, it’s also commonly used as a flavor enhancer in food.
  • Its odorless nature makes it ideal as an ingredient in many curry recipes.
  • Turmeric – Turmeric contains curcumin which is responsible for turmeric’s yellow color.
  • Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects.
  • It can help prevent cancer by reducing inflammation and stopping tumor cells from growing and multiplying.
  • One tablespoon (15g) of ground turmeric contains nearly 100% of RDA of Vitamin C.
  • Garlic salt – Garlic salt works well in lieu of traditional onion and garlic ingredients.
  • Use about 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt per serving.
  • Chili powder – Chili powder adds another layer of flavor to the dal fry.
  • Try using chili powder in moderation to avoid adding too much heat to your dish.

How Do You Make Dal Fry Without Tomatoes?

If you want to save money when preparing dal fry, then you don’t need to buy tomatoes every time you cook the dish.

You could use canned chickpeas instead of homemade ones, but we think using home-made dal makes everything taste better in dal fry.

If you prefer to go with canned beans though, feel free to substitute them.

The best thing about dal fry is how versatile it is.

The ingredients used depend on your preference.

For instance, if you decide to skip onions and garlic, add more spices like turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala, cumin, etc., or even leave out any spice altogether.

We recommend adding only salt to dal fry if you choose to omit certain spices.

To make dal fry spicy, you could always use red chili powder instead of green chili powder.

If you’d rather keep things milder, simply replace the green chilies with paprika instead.

Once you master the basic dal fry recipe, you can experiment with different types of spices and seasonings until you find something that works well for you.

It’s important to note that dal fry is made by simmering lentils in oil over low heat (or medium) for a long period of time.

When you prepare fresh dal, you will see that it has a thick consistency.

However, after being cooked for longer periods of time, dal tends to become thinner which helps increase its digestibility.

When you prepare dal fry, it may seem like too much effort to take off the stove to stir constantly while waiting for it to finish cooking.

But trust us, it won’t take very long at all.

In fact, it usually finishes cooking within 20 minutes.

Is Dal Fry Healthy?

The biggest health concern with dal fry has nothing to do with the ingredients themselves but rather how long people cook them.

You’ll notice some chefs will use oil when frying the dal which means it could become more fatty if cooked too long.

It’s important to keep in mind that dal fry isn’t necessarily unhealthy as long as you follow basic tips like using low heat and short cooking times.

The key here is to ensure your dal fry doesn’t get overcooked so you don’t end up with mushy vegetables or any other issues with texture.

How Many Calories Are In Dal Fry?

Calories aren’t everything when you’re trying to lose weight, though.

What matters more is whether the food you eat contains enough vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy.

If it doesn’t, then you could end up feeling unwell without realizing why.

To find out how much calories are in dal fry, we need to know what the main ingredients are.

The biggest contributors here are chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) which provide 9 grams per serving.

There’s also 1 gram each of turmeric, coriander powder, ginger, black pepper, cumin seeds, and red chilies.

All together, that makes 14 grams of protein per serving.

However, these figures don’t include any salt.

Adding 2 teaspoons of sea salt will add another 25 calories to every 3 ounces of dal fry.

The other major component is oil, which adds about 100 to 120 calories per tablespoon.

So if you use only half of the recommended amount, you’ll save 60 to 80 calories per serving.

What Is Your Favorite Dal Fry Recipe?

We love the kitchari dal fry recipe which you can check out here.

We think it has great flavor and texture, with a nice balance between tangy yogurt and rich spices like ginger garlic paste and garam masala.

If you want to add more variety to your meals, we recommend trying the chicken tikka dal fry recipe.

This version adds chicken pieces to the mix and serves them up in pita bread.

You may find that combining different flavors (like sweet mango chutney) works well too.

But if you prefer plain old dal fry without any extra ingredients, then check out this easy dal fry recipe below.

If you don’t eat meat, you may want to skip the step where it says “add 1/4 cup shredded cooked chicken.” That will save you about 100 calories per serving.

Ingredients for dal fry

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • ¼ cup grated coconut
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup finely sliced green onions

Step by step instructions for dal fry

First, heat the oil over medium high heat in a large skillet.

Add the onion and saute until translucent.

Next, add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Then, add the spices and stir briefly until fragrant.

Finally, pour in the water and bring to a boil.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25 minutes.

Now, add the lentils and continue to simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender.

While the lentils are cooking, grate the coconut into a bowl.

Stir in the chili flakes, pepper, and green onions.

When the lentils are done, drain off excess liquid and transfer the mixture to the coconut bowl.

Mix everything together thoroughly.

Serve warm.

dal fry recipe

Dal Fry Recipe

Dal fry recipes are some of our most popular recipes on this site because they’re so tasty and versatile.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Dal Fry Recipe
Servings: 3
Calories: 200kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Pot

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup toor dal
  • cup water
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp jeera
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • few curry leaves
  • pinch of hing
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 green chilli
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi

Instructions

  • firstly, simmer 3 cups of water and 1/4 cup of toor dal in a pressure cooker until 5 whistles.
  • Now, heat one tablespoon of ghee in a separate kadai and sputter one tablespoon each of mustard, jeera, dried red chilli, curry leaves, and hing.
  • Add one onion, one tablespoon of ginger garlic paste, and one green chilli. Good sautéing
  • Add an additional 1/4 teaspoon each of turmeric, chilli powder, and coriander powder. On a low flame, sauté.
  • Moreover, add 1 tomato and cook it until it is mushy and tender.
  • Add the cooked dal and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
  • 5 minutes of simmering is plenty to make the dal smooth and flavorful.
  • now include 1/4 teaspoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon coriander, and 1 teaspoon crushed kasuri methi.
  • Finally, serve hot jeera rice or ghee rice with the dal fry.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 898mg | Potassium: 190mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 452IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 2mg
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