Dhaba Dal

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Dhaba Dal

Dals or Lentils for Indians is like potatoes or bacons for Americans. I mean you get my point right? We can’t do without eating lentils almost every day. It doesn’t matter whichever part of the country you are from, if you are from India you will be eating dal in some way or the other. We have such a huge range of lentils in India that are cooked on a regular basis. Red lentils, yellow lentils, green lentils, black lentils and so on. And then every lentil is further classified into ones without skin, with skin, whole lentil and so on. You can see it’s not easy to understand all the varieties especially when you have never cooked in life! And all these different dals always remind me of one incident few years back.

Once when I was college my mom sent me to bring 3-4 types of lentils from the market. She just gave me the list and didn’t tell me anything else. Obviously she did it on purpose because I had no clue which dal was which and she wanted me to learn. According to her I was in college and big enough to at least know the different types of dals. And so I went to the market and stood there like a fool because the packets were not labelled! I had no clue which packets to pick and I just stood there scratching my head for 15-20 minutes. After some time, a lady came near me and asked me “child do you need help”? I looked at her and nodded, she then read my list and helped me pick up all the dals. When I went back, I asked mom why did you do this, it was so embarrassing. She said, good it was embarrassing at least now you will be able to recognize the dals! Umm no wonder my mom still finds it shocking that I have a food blog, I mean ME of all people! I don’t really blame her!

Indian Dhaba Dal

Because we eat a lot of dals, I usually have 7-8 types in my pantry at a given time. I try to mix and match and come up with different versions whenever I cook dal, which is like every other day. This particular dal is made using chana dal (split garbanzo beans/bengal gram) and urad dal chilka (split black gram lentil). My husband calls it dhaba dal. “Dhaba” are small food joints located on the highways in India. The food in dhabas is delicious and also cheap, honestly everyone will say that dhaba food is better than the 5 star stuff, it really is! We get the most amazing naan, parathas and dals at dhabas.

Hubby is a good cook. I have shared some of his recipes on my blog before, like this dal makhani and afghan drink. He doesn’t cook often but when he does the food is seriously lip smacking good. He makes fabulous dals and so whenever I feel like having a good dal, I let him do the honors 😉 This weekend he made this dhaba dal and it was so delicious that I really felt like drinking the whole bowl all by myself.

Dhaba Dal Recipe

If you love Indian food and want to make a good dal, I would suggest 2 things:

1) Get a pressure cooker, yes it is important. We Indians can’t do without pressure cooker. Chickpeas, lentils, beans everything is so easy to quick when you have a pressure cooker. Sure you can make this dal in your pan too but it will take way more time for the lentils to cook. So yeah get a pressure cooker!

2) Cook for a longer time on low heat. We know slow cooking enhances the flavors, I do not own a slow cooker yet but the day I do, the first thing i’ll do is make a good dal. Once this dal is cooked, you need to let it simmer of low heat for a minimum of 30 minutes or 1-2 hours if you have time.

I hope you guys give this dhaba dal recipe a try. I only clicked pictures for this one, the whole recipe is by my husband, right from soaking the dal till tempering it, so full credit goes to him 🙂

Looking for more dal recipes? Check these out!

Dal Tadka

Moong Dal Tadka

Dal Makhani

 

Method

Soak chana dal and urad dal chilka in enough water for 3 hours. The lentils will increase in size after they are soaked. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil on medium heat in your pressure cooker. Once hot add ginger garlic paste and green chili. Please feel free to add as many green chilies as you want. We can’t eat very spicy food so this was enough for us. Saute for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped onions and mix.

Dhaba Dal Recipe-Step-1

Saute for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell goes away.

Add the chopped tomatoes next.

Cook the tomatoes for 7-8 minutes or till raw smell goes away and they are thoroughly cooked.

Dhaba Dal Recipe-Step-2

Now add the soaked dal, which you had drained and set aside. Mix and cook the dal with the onion and tomato mixture for another 5 minutes, stirring often. Also add the salt, red chili powder (add more to taste) and turmeric powder and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add water, give a stir and close the pressure cooker. Set the heat to high to medium-high and cook for 6 whistles and then switch off the heat.

Let the pressure come off and then open the lid of the cooker. The dals will be totally cooked by now, but not mushy and this is exactly what we want. We don’t want overcooked dals for this recipe. Now switch on the heat again and let the dal simmer on low heat for a minimum of 30 minutes or 1 hour if you have time. Keep stirring in between, the dal will thicken as it simmers.

Dhaba Dal Recipe-Step-3

After the dal has been simmering for a while, add ghee or oil in another pan on medium heat. Once hot, add chopped garlic and dried whole red chilies.

Saute till the garlic starts turning golden brown in color.

Immediately transfer some dal to this pan and mix with the tempering and then then transfer the entire content to the main pot of simmering dal. Mix and let the dal simmer for 10 more minutes. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice.

Dhaba Dal Recipe-Step-4

Garnish the dhaba dal with fresh cilantro and serve hot with some roti or naan.

Dhaba Dal

* To make this vegan, just skip the ghee at the last step (tempering) and use oil in place. The rest of the recipe is vegan.

* Like I say for all my Indian recipes, adjust spice levels to taste. I don’t like spicy food so there’s never too many chilies in my recipes!

Dhaba Dal

Serves: 4

Dhaba dal is a delicious blend of lentils and spices. Great with roti, naan and rice.
Ingredients
  • ¾ cup urad dal chilka (split black gram lentil)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons chana dal (split garbanzo beans or bengal gram)
  • 1 onion, medium, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, medium, chopped
  • 1.5 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 green chili, sliced [or add more to taste]
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili powder [adjust to taste]
  • salt, to taste
  • 3.5 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • cilantro, to garnish
for the tempering/tadka
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, big, finely chopped
  • 2-3 teaspoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 3-4 whole dried red chilies
Instructions
  1. Soak chana dal and urad dal chilka in enough water for 3 hours. The lentils will increase in size after they are soaked. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat oil on medium heat in your pressure cooker. Once hot add ginger garlic paste and green chili. Please feel free to add as many green chilies as you want. Saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped onions and mix.
  4. Saute the onions for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell goes away.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes next and cook the tomatoes for 7-8 minutes or till raw smell goes away and they are thoroughly cooked.
  6. Now add the soaked dal, which you had drained and set aside.
  7. Mix well and cook the dal with the onion and tomato mixture for another 5 minutes.
  8. Also add the salt, red chili powder (add more to taste) and turmeric powder and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  9. Add water, give a stir and close the pressure cooker. Set the heat to high to medium-high and cook for 6 whistles and then switch off the heat.
  10. Let the pressure come off and then open the lid of the cooker. The dals will be totally cooked by now.
  11. Now switch on the heat again and let the dal simmer on low heat for a minimum of 30 minutes or 1 hour if you have time. Keep stirring in between, the dal will thicken as it simmers.
  12. After the dal has been simmering for a while, add ghee or oil in another pan on medium heat. Once hot, add chopped garlic and dried whole red chilies.
  13. Saute till the garlic starts turning golden brown in color.
  14. Immediately transfer some dal to this pan and mix with the tempering and then then transfer the entire content to the main pot of simmering dal. Mix and let the dal simmer for 10 more minutes.
  15. Squeeze in some fresh lemon juice.
  16. Garnish the dhaba dal with fresh cilantro and serve hot with some roti or naan.

 Dhaba Dal

Dhaba Dal Collage-nocwm

50 thoughts on “Dhaba Dal

  1. Love lentils and these look delicious! Your husband did a great job! Pinned to try this dish, because I usually cook them into soup!

  2. haha.. I can very well relate to your dal picking adventure.. My mom never sent me for that as she knew that I will goof up everything in the end. lol.. And she also gives me the same reaction about having a food blog.. Hi-five..

    And the dal looks superb.. The colour is so inviting that one just cannot resist.. 🙂

  3. are all indian mothers same manali? You are in college you should know the names of daal 😉
    Dals or Lentils for Indians is like potatoes or bacons for Americans- ha ha…so true…..We earn for daal-roti my hubby’s dialogue 😉
    Mixed daal with steamed rice- ah heaven. Never made dhaba style, gota try this. 🙂

    1. haha I guess they are shweta! My mom was always after me to learn cooking and I could never cook to save my life! lol… yes dal is so important for us..we earn for roti daal..haha so true! Hope you give this recipe a try, hubby’s version and it’s fantastic!

  4. This Dal looks amazing Manali!! And don’t worry your not the only one that didn’t know what kind of lentils to get. It was so bad for me that my mother in law (bless her heart) made up a recipe using a can of condensed split pea soup into Dal. It’s easy to make and delicious, but I need to get adventurous and make more Dal’s. My MIL even bought me my first pressure cooker cause as an American girl I had no clue what it was 15 years ago, hehe. So making this asap! Love and pinned!! 🙂

    1. lol you not getting different dals is still ok Cyndi, you are an American but me not understanding the different dals was not acceptable for mom especially since I was in college! You MIL sounds like a wonderful lady 🙂 Thanks dear and hope you give this a try!

  5. I loved reading the story of you at the market — that’s just a like a mom, right? And I love my pressure cooker, Manali. This dish looks so delicious, I really need to try it! Time to get the pressure cooker out!

  6. I love that this is your husband’s recipe!!! that is so awesome!!! My husband used to cook .. more when we were dating and a little bit here and there after we got married. . but now that I cook all the time, he has suddenly forgotten how to cook 🙂 you guys are a great team! what a great Indian food recipe!

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