I’ve had a lot of requests for this one lately so here it is.

Disclaimer here is that every family makes it slightly differently, so, if you’re reading this and have a different recipe, good for you!

There are so many different types of lentils and beans that you can make dhal with and while most are easy there are a select few that can take a very, very long time to cook and can be difficult to work with.

So I’m starting out this post with a few recommendations on which lentils to use if you’re looking for a quick way to make a dhal.

  1. You don’t always have to go an Indian supply shop to get dhal. Yes, you most certainly can get moong dhal and Indian toor dhal (yellow split peas) at the indian store, but you don’t have to go there. The soup and canned bean aisle at your local supermarket is your friend.
  2. Yellow split peas (Toor Dhal), take a notoriously long time to cook and can get a bit sticky and hard to work with if not cooked right. When I use yellow split peas, I use a pressure cooker, its simpler, faster and I’ve never got the consistency wrong. If your patient and have time on your hands, you can most certainly cook it in a pot, but it will take a while.
  3. My favourite and easy lentils/beans to use are:
    1. Whole Green Lentils (Soup Aisle at your local). These cook fast and create quite a nice thick and lovely dhal.
    2. Moong Dhal, or even split moong dhal (Asian/Indian store). These cook well, and fairly quickly and again create a wonderfully hearty dhal
    3. Red Lentils – notoriously EASY to cook and you can get a large quantity out of one packet
    4. Canned lentils – This is the best for a very quick dhal: simply drain and wash them and then chuck them in at the right time, mentioned in the recipe below.
    5. Canned black eyed beans – Now this maybe argued as “not dhal” but it’s made in the same method and its fast, and I absolutely love it when my mum makes it.

What you’ll need:

  • Lentils: As mentioned above
  • Onion
  • Garlic – a little
  • Ginger – a fair bit
  • Green Chilli (at your discretion)
  • Chopped tomato (preferably). Or a small amount of tomato puree.
  • Salt
  • Cumin seeds (Now I know a lot of people don’t generally have this in their pantry’s, so it is possible to use cumin powder, well I think so anyway, and I’ve explained it below)
  • Coriander (I know just how contentious this can be, so at your discretion)
  • Lemon juice


  1. In a large sauce pan, cook your lentils (if they aren’t canned lentils) as per the instructions on the bag. Usually you wash the lentils and then fill up enough water to cover them with about 2 inches (5cm) of water and let them boil until cooked
  2. In a small sauce pan heat oil and brown off some cumin seeds. If you’re using a little bit of cumin powder I would recommend adding it to the onion mix that is in the next step.
  3. I prefer my onions thoroughly cooked, so I blend up my onions, garlic, ginger, green chill in a small blender or I use a stick blender. You’re more than welcome to just use finely chopped onions, garlic ginger and chilli.
  4. Add the onion mix to the oil/cumin in the large saucepan and cook off.
  5. Add chopped tomato or a tablespoon and a bit of tomato puree and cook off for a bit
  6. Add cooked lentils (or washed canned lentils) and add a bit of water (if required) and salt to taste.
  7. Mix thoroughly and allow to boil until well mixed
  8. Add lemon juice and coriander and you’re ready to go!

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