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Rajasthani 5-lentil dal (Panchmel dal)

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Dal is omnipresent on the Indian table, there must literally be hundreds of recipes for dals depending on the region of the country and community. No Indian meal is complete without a dal, and for a very good reason. Dals are the perfect source of both proteins and crucial amino acids that are essential to a vegetarian's diet. This simple Rajasthani dal is a beautiful dish. It has a mix of the most common lentils, it has texture and is wonderfully spiced. The flavours start with the wonderful aroma and flavour of ghee followed by the tartness from the lime and finishing with a gentle spice from the chillies. This is a dal you will make repeatedly as I do. This is a wonderful cookbook that I categorize in the fabulous London Indian restaurants I want to eat at. A cookbook filled with some very traditional recipes, like this one, and some extraordinary contemporary recipes. Each of these is delicious, definitely a cookbook you will see me cook from again. For more delicious recipes from this cookbook click here.


For the dal:

2 tablespoons yellow moong dal

2 tablespoons toor (split pigeon) dal

2 tablespoons chana (split chickpeas) dal

2 tablespoons urad (split white gram) dal

2 tablespoons masoor (red) dal

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste

Lime or lemon juice

Cilantro, minced

For the tempering:

3 tablespoons ghee/butter or oil

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1-2 dried red chillies

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, finely diced

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder, or to taste

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 tomato, finely diced

Mix and wash the lentils and soak overnight if cooking in a regular pot. If you use an Instapot like me, or a pressure cooker, cook on the bean setting after mixing with the turmeric powder and salt. You want the smaller lentils to completely break apart, but the bigger lentils should maintain some form and add texture to the dal.

When the lentils are almost ready, the lentils are cooking, heat the ghee/oil in a deep pot and add the cumin seeds, red chillies and garlic. Sauté on medium heat for 30 seconds and add the onions. Continue to sauté till the onions are a light golden colour.

Add the chilli powder and garam masala and sauté for 10 seconds, or less and add the tomatoes. If the lentils are not done yet set them aside. Add the hot lentils and bring to a gentle simmer and mix well. Take off the heat and squeeze in the lime or lemon juice. Careful, this dal is quite thick and tends to stick to the bottom of the pan, Taste and adjust consistency to your liking, with salt and other seasonings as needed. Serve topped with cilantro and with rice on the side.

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