Tangy Hyderabad dal

Tangy Hyderabad dal

I Love India
Martin Poole

This is lovely with plain rice and also with naan and vegetables. It is based on a curry I tried at a famous restaurant in Mumbai and set out to recreate in my kitchen. It is really tasty. The strength of tamarind changes between different brands, so add it judiciously and taste before you add more. You can also add 2–3 handfuls of shredded spinach to make a one-pot meal.


Quantity Ingredient
125g yellow lentils, (mung dal)
125g split pigeon peas, (toor dal)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon finely grated root ginger
4 large garlic cloves, 1 finely grated, 3 finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2-3 tablespoons ghee
or butter with a little oil, (the oil stops butter from burning)
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
12 fresh curry leaves
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2-3 green chillies, stalks removed, either pierced with a knife, or 1–2 chopped for more heat
11/2-2 teaspoons tamarind paste, or to taste
handful chopped coriander


  1. Wash the lentils well in several changes of water and place in a large saucepan. Cover with about 8cm of water and bring to the boil. Scoop the scum off the top with a slotted spoon and add 1 tsp salt, the turmeric, ginger and grated garlic. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and the water is becoming yellow. Add the tomato. Keep giving the pot the occasional stir, especially towards the end as the lentils often sink to the bottom.
  2. Heat the ghee in a small saucepan. Add the cumin and mustard seeds and, once they are popping, add the curry leaves. Give them a few seconds, then add the onion and chillies and cook until the onions are translucent and turning brown on the edges. Add the chopped garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute or until just colouring as well. Pour the mixture into the lentils along with most of the tamarind.
  3. Simmer for a few minutes, then taste and adjust the salt and tartness (tamarind) to taste and stir in the coriander.
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