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Kerala Style Dahl

​Serves 6 - 8 in an Indian style meal. Serve with piping hot with Basmati rice.


  • 1 cup split yellow lentils (toor dahl)

  • 2 tsp turmeric powder

  • Ginger, 2" piece

  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds

  • 2 dried red chillies

  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion, chopped

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, coarse chopped

  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds powder

  • 1/8 tsp cayenne, approx

  • 1/3 cup grated coconut, unsweetened

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1 Tblsp tamarind concentrate

  • 1 Tblsp chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves for garnishing


  1. Rinse the lentils and drain well.

  2. Transfer lentils to a heavy bottomed pan. Add 3 cups water along with the turmeric and ginger. Bring to a boil over high heat and then simmer, partially covered, for approx 30 minutes or till well cooked. A pressure cooker would also work well here. You let the lentils cook for 15 minutes on low after the first whistle.

  3. While the lentils are cooking, start dry sauteing the spices in a heavy bottomed non-stick pan. Dry roast the black mustard seeds and red chillies on high heat, till you hear the seeds pop or till they smoke furiously. (Make sure the pan is covered in this step). Carefully remove the lid, lower the heat and add in the shallots. Brown for 3-4 minutes. Add some water if absolutely necessary. Add in the garlic, cumin, coriander and cayenne and continue roasting for a a minute or so.

  4. Add spices to dahl when done and continue cooking together. When dahl is mushy, add in the coconut, tamarind & salt. Cook for another 5 minutes.

  5. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and enjoy with rice!

Recipe adapted from Bean by Bean, by Crescent Dragonwagon

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