Urad Dal Recipe (Maa ki Dal)
Dec 19, 2023
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Make this simple Sabut Urad Dal recipe using basic everyday ingredients. Black lentils are cooked with spices, onions and tomatoes for the ultimate comfort food! This dal is easy to make, and so hearty. Serve it with jeera rice for a satisfying meal.
I have always been a huge fan of sabut urad dal and of course Dal Makhani is my absolute favorite dal that I make with this lentil. However, on days when I want to enjoy sabut urad dal without all the extra cream and butter, I make this Sabut Urad Dal which is also known as Maa ki Dal in northern parts of India.
Urad dal was not a common dal in my house while growing up. My family is from eastern Uttar Pradesh and I often joke that we don’t look beyond toor/arhar dal. Urad dal was only used when mom dal makhani for festivals and special occasions. However, my husband is a Panjabi and my mother in law makes this quite often at home.
This maa ki dal recipe is something that I have learnt from her. The only difference is that I have used store-bought tomato puree. She usually skips the tomatoes altogether. This dal is flavored with onions, tomatoes and spices like coriander, turmeric. It’s all made in one-pot which is the best part about this recipe. It’s comforting, soul satisfying and makes a really good bowl of dal.
Table of Contents
- Whole Urad Dal (Black Lentils): for this recipe, you need sabut urad dal aka whole urad dal. Urad dal can be whole, chilka (split but with skin) or dhuli (no skin). The whole urad dal results in the most creamy dal.
- Tomato puree: just like my Dal Makhani recipe, I like using store bought tomato puree for this recipe as well for that smooth texture. But you can use fresh tomato puree as well.
- Spices: the dal is flavored with dry spices like coriander powder, turmeric, garam masala, and red chili powder.
- Ghee: So, I have used ghee to make this dal but you can also use oil of your choice. Mustard oil is also a good option to give the dal that rustic taste.
How To Make Urad Dal
Rinse and then soak whole urad dal (whole black lentils) in 3 to 4 cups of water overnight or for a minimum of 5 to 6 hours. I usually soak overnight. Once soaked, drain the water and rinse the dal and keep it ready.
- Put a stovetop pressure cooker on medium heat. Add 1 & 1/2 tablespoons of ghee to it. You can also use oil. Once the ghee is hot, add 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 30 seconds. Then add 1 medium onion (chopped) and 1 chopped green chili.
- Sauté the onions for around 2 minutes until they soften. Then add 1 & 1/2 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste and cook for 1 minute.
- Add 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes. This was store-bought tomato puree which is quite thick. If using homemade tomato puree, I would use around 3/4 to 1 cup of fresh tomato puree.
- Then add the spices: 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (regular or Kashmiri) and 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook all the spices for 30 seconds.
- Add the soaked and rinsed dal to the pressure cooker now. Toss the dal along with the masala.
- Add around 2 & 1/2 to 3 cups of water and stir.
- Close the lid of the pressure cooker. Cook on medium-high heat for 10 whistles, then lower the heat to low-medium and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. In total the dal pressure cooks for around 20 to 25 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Once the pressure is released, open the lid and add 1/4 teaspoon garam masala and 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro. Turn on the gas on medium-low heat and let the dal simmer for 5 minutes. Crush some of the dal with the back of your spatula/ladle this makes the dal creamier. Add more water as needed to adjust the consistency of the dal. I added around 1/2 cup more water. Also taste the salt and add more as needed. Serve hot with basmati rice with a dollop of butter (optional).
Instant Pot Instructions
For the Instant Pot, everything remains the same (including soaking the dal) except add 2 & 1/2 cups water, make sure to deglaze the pot so there’s nothing stuck at the bottom of the pot before pressure cooking and then pressure cook for 40 minutes on high pressure with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.
I know 40 minutes might seem a lot but it is needed if you are looking for that authentic melt-in-mouth consistency of maa ki dal. If you don’t care about that consistency then you can pressure cook it for a lesser amount of time. And don’t forget to simmer it on sauté mode for 5 minutes after it is pressure cooked. That helps bring all the flavors together.
How to Make it Vegan
To make this urad dal recipe vegan, use oil in place of ghee and skip the optional butter at the end or use vegan butter if you like. This recipe is gluten free.
Manali’s Expert Tips
- I do like soaking my whole urad dal overnight for this recipe. If you don’t have the time or forgot to soak the dal overnight, soak for at least 4 hours. That’s my minimum recommendation if you want that melt in mouth creamy maa ki dal consistency.
- This sabut urad dal has a creamy texture and melts in the mouth. If you don’t prefer that kind of texture and prefer a more “solid” dal, then pressure cook for a lesser amount of time.
- Adding butter at the end is optional but it adds a nice flavor, I recommend going with Amul butter.
- You can use fresh ginger and garlic in place of the ginger garlic paste. Pound 1-inch ginger and 2 to 3 cloves of garlic using a mortar and pestle and use that in the recipe.
Sabut Urad Dal Recipe
- 1 cup urad dal sabut whole black lentil
- 1 & ½ tablespoon ghee or oil
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 green chili or add more to taste
- 1 & ½ teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoons tomato puree store bought
- 1 teaspoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chili powder or more to taste
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 &½ – 3 cups water 20 oz to 24 oz + more as needed
- ½ tablespoon butter optional, to add at the end, preferably Amul butter
- Start by washing and then soaking the urad dal overnight. If you forgot to soak overnight, then I recommend soaking for at least 4 hours. Once soaked, drain the water and rinse the dal and keep it ready.
- To a stovetop pressure cooker on medium heat, add ghee (or oil). Once the ghee is hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Then add the chopped onion and green chili and sauté for 2 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent.
- Then add the ginger garlic paste and cook 1 more minute. Now, add the tomato puree and cook 2 minutes. Add the spices like coriander powder, turmeric, red chili powder along with salt. Cook the spices for 30 seconds.
- Now add the soaked and drained dal to the pressure cooker. Stir to combine the dal with the masala. Now add water (around 3 cups) and mix. Close the lid and pressure cook on medium high heat for 10 whistles, then lower the heat to low-medium and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. In total the dal pressure cooks for around 20 to 25 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Open the lid once the pressure has released and add garam masala and chopped cilantro. Turn on the heat to low-medium and let the dal simmer for 5 minutes. Crush some of the dal with the back of a spatula as it is simmering, this helps in making the dal creamier. Add salt and water as needed at this point.
- Serve maa ki dal hot with basmati rice. You may top if with 1/2 tablespoon butter before serving.
Instant Pot Instructions
- For the Instant Pot, everything remains the same (including soaking the dal) except add 2 & 1/2 cups water, make sure to deglaze the pot so there's nothing stuck at the bottom of the pot before pressure cooking and then pressure cook for 40 minutes on high pressure with the pressure valve in the sealing position. Let the pressure release naturally.40 minutes might seem a lot of time to pressure cook but it is needed if you are looking for that authentic melt-in-mouth consistency of maa ki dal. If you don't care about that consistency then you can pressure cook it for a lesser amount of time. And don't forget to simmer it on sauté mode for 5 minutes after it is pressure cooked. That helps bring all the flavors together.
- The total cooking time does not include the soaking time of the dal. I usually soak it overnight for 8 hours.
- Use oil in place of ghee and skip the butter at the end to make this urad dal recipe vegan.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.