South Indian Dal Fry Recipe

Dal fry is a staple food in almost all households in India. If you are looking to find the best recipe for Dal fry then you can find one here. Dal fry is a scrumptious Indian side dish made with lentils, herbs, and spices. Dal is referred to as lentils. It is a must-found important dish found in Indian restaurants and households. Besides its nutritional values, Dal fry is also a comfort food and super easy-to-cook.

—–Photo of Dal fry—-

Cooking dal fry is very easy and can be prepared using either a regular Kadai, stove Kadai, an instant Kadai, or a pressure cooker. Cooking it for the first time makes you wonder how a very few ingredients from your kitchen can help you do magic with your hands and cook a scrumptious, aromatic nutritional meal. Just follow the detailed guidelines mentioned below.




Ingredients used to prepare dal fry

Dal fry is usually made with split pigeon peas (toor dal a kind of lentil), tomatoes, onions, herbs, spices, and ghee. However, dal fry can be cooked using any lentils of your choice like chana dal,  masoor dal, moong dal. Toor dal is used in most households and we can find a combination of Toor dal and moong dal at restaurants.

You can choose your set of lentils, herbs, and spices to cook dal fry. One point remains clear that is, the process to prepare dal fry remains the same regardless of the spices, lentils, and herb quantity chosen at your home. 

Cooking brief

Firstly, do not go by the misconception that fry in the dal fry includes any kind of deep-frying.

Cooking lentils softly in the pressure cooker. Simultaneously whole spices, ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and other spice powders like salt, chill powder are fried in ghee. Later add the sauteed mixture to the dal and it is simmered. 

As the spices are sauteed it gets the name fry.

About the Recipe

This recipe will provide you with the dal with the best taste. It’s medium spiced but packed with flavor and the perfect texture to satisfy the entire family. However, it is up to your tastes you can add the spice based on how much spicy you prefer.

I always prefer to use plain toor dal which enhances the texture and taste of the curry. There are various varieties of lentils available in the market and each lentil has its flavor. And even in toor dal, there are different kinds where a few of them can give away aroma and smoother texture.

If you are unsure about the right kind of dal then adding a little quantity of moong or masoor dal while boiling the toor dal. This enhances the taste and aroma and also avoids water being separated from cooked toor dal.

It is why dhabas and restaurants add a little quantity of masoor dal in the dal fry and tadkas.

Cooking a perfect dish depends wholly on the right amount of spices used. Avoiding the usage of too many spices can completely alter the flavor of the dish. Hence, it is advisable to use dried chilies instead of chilli powder.

Dal fry can be served as a side dish to many dishes. It can go with plain rice or plain roti, can also be served with lemon rice, ghee rice, parathas, and even butter naan. As the saying goes, dal fry with mango pickle and plain rice are a divine combination that must try combinations.

Steps to be followed for cooking

  1. Take 1 cup of dal of your interest and 2¾th glass of water into the pressure cooker. (I prefer you to use toor dal) and wash the lentils thoroughly with water. 

Tip: You can also use ¾th cup of toor dal and ¼th cup of moong or masoor dal and start washing the lentils

  1. If cooking in the pressure cooker, cook dal for 3 whistles on low to medium heat. On turning off the stove, mash the dal properly(but be sure to be careful while mashing the dal).
  2. Sauteeing the spices

Take a pan on the stove and add 2 spoons of ghee or oil you use in your kitchen. On the pan becoming hot add the below spices: 

    3.1 Add ¾th  teaspoon of cumin seeds

3.2 Add ¼th to ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds (however be careful too much mustard seeds can bring a bitter taste to the dish)

    3.3 1 to 2 dried red chilies based on your spice taste

    3.4 You can choose to add hing but it is optional

    3.5 Adding curry leaves to the saute improves the taste of the dal fry

  1. Add chopped onions (1 big or 2 small), 2 to 3 onions according to the spice level you prefer at your home, and saute it until the onions become a golden color.
  2. Adding ginger garlic paste and saute it until the raw smell is gone
  3. Now add the chopped tomatoes or (blend the chopped tomatoes and use the paste while sauting )
  4. It is time for adding the spice powders

    7.1 ½ to ¾th teaspoon of salt 

    7.2 ¼th teaspoon of turmeric

7.3 ½ spoon of red chilli powder(only if needed after checking with the saute, adjust to taste ) 

7.4 ½ to ¼th spoon garam masala(adjust to taste)

  1. Saute the mixture for 2 to 3 mins until you get the yummy aroma.
  2. Add the mashed dal to the saute and mix it well and let it cook. Depending on how thick you want the dal to be you can add water, however, dal thickens on cooling down.
  3. When the dal bubbles up check the salt and spice taste and adjust accordingly.
  4. Final step add the chopped coriander to garnish the dish and turn off the stove.

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