Maunika Gowardhan’s garlic and cumin dal with tomato, chilli and coriander recipe

Google will bring up loads of variations on how to make this. I’ve opted for this recipe because it’s one that was shared by my family friend from Delhi and is the one I keep coming back to.

garlic and cumin dal
Sam Harris


250g chana dal
1 litre water
1 tsp ground turmeric

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
110g white onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1⁄2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder or mild chilli powder
1 tsp ground coriander
90g tomato, finely chopped
2.5cm ginger root, sliced into matchsticks
Salt, to taste
Chopped coriander, to garnish

  1. Put the chana dal, water and turmeric in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 1 1⁄4 hours, until the dal is soft, stirring every few minutes to make sure the dal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Mash lightly with a potato masher, then turn off the heat and set aside.
  2. To make the tadka, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, then after a few seconds, add the onions and fry for 8 minutes, stirring well so that they brown evenly. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute, then add the crushed fennel seeds, chilli powder and ground coriander and stir well. Add the tomato and fry for 2-3 minutes until soft, then add the ginger and fry for a further minute.
  3. Pour the tadka mix over the cooked dal. Add enough boiling water to thin the dal; about 80ml-100ml. Simmer for a couple of minutes to heat through, season to taste and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with roti or rice.

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