Toor Dal

Toor Dhal Recipe (1)

Toor Dal – also known as tuvar and arahar dal – is a variety of yellow split pea widely used across Indian cuisine. Sold either naturally, or “treated” with oil to prolong its shelf life, toor dal makes for a quick and inexpensive meal or accompaniment to curry. This recipe is particularly simple and as long as you have a well-stocked spice cupboard is very easily prepared.

Though mild and nutty, toor dal has a rather distinctive flavour. I’ve found that it generally contributes far more to the flavour of the overall dish than red lentils or even chana dal. Toor dal is also far more convenient than chana dal as it doesn’t require any soaking at all. Simply rinse, repeat and cook. What could be better?

Toor Dhal Recipe How to make toor dal

Toor Dal

Serves 3-4


  • 250g oily toor dal, thoroughly rinsed

  • 1 litre water

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 3 whole dried chillies, slit

  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

  • 2 tsp whole cumin, ground

  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds

  • 12 curry leaves

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • A pinch of asafoetida

  • 1 tomato, minced

  • 1 tsp salt


  1. Bring the dal to the boil in a large pan with 1 litre of water – skim off any scum that forms. It should take around 40-45 minutes to break down into a soft-consistency.

  2. Once the dal has started to soften, heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently cook the garlic and chillies. After 2-3 minutes add the ground cumin, black mustard seeds and curry leaves.

  3. Once completely broken down add the turmeric and asafoetida to the toor dal and mix thoroughly before adding to the garlic and chilli.

  4. Finish the dal off with a finely minced tomato and season to taste. Serve with rice and flatbread.

Cost: Though not a particularly common ingredient in Britain, toor dal is nonetheless very cheap. It’s difficult to argue against any ingredient sold for £2.40 per kilo. Even with a long list of ingredients, this nutritious Indian recipe should set you back no more than £1.50.

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19 comments on “Toor Dal

  1. Chica Andaluza
    March 20, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Looks great – love any sort of dal but don’t think I’ve actually cooked toor dal yet…time to change that!

  2. Mama's Gotta Bake
    March 20, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Beautiful dish Nick!

  3. myfangalicious
    March 20, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    god i love your photograhy! it’s simple,clean and inviting.
    what lense do you use frugal?

    • frugalfeeding
      March 25, 2014 at 8:22 am

      Thank you, Kathy! I just use a kit lens, believe it or not. I am going to invest though.

  4. Veronica Sheppard
    March 21, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    This looks perfect. You should open a restaurant haha

  5. Eva
    March 21, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Hello Nick
    This is my first visit to your blog. I came after reading your interview in Emma’s Cakes, Bakes and Biscuits blog. I have the feeling I will be coming more often, you have some great recipes here – First one I’ll try will be Red pepper and sunflower pesto …. Thanks a lot for sharing all these!

    • frugalfeeding
      March 25, 2014 at 8:33 am

      Great to see you decided to come over and comment! Glad you like my recipes too – enjoy!

  6. Maggie
    April 18, 2015 at 8:56 am

    I am sitting at the kitchen table, yes it is cold outside, but v sunny … eating my breakfast, drinking coffe …. (It is Sat after all ….)… Writing my shopping list for your gorgeously beautiful Chicken Laks and this Toot dhal. your blog is so very lovely, good recipes as well! Have made so many things …… thank you. Xx

    • frugalfeeding
      April 27, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      Thanks, Maggie – I’m so glad you like my blog. Let me know when you’ve tried a recipe!

      • Maggie
        April 28, 2015 at 9:26 am

        Thank u for replying. Right , it is 9 am here, and I hv got ready all ingredients I need for 3 dahls. Toor, fragr red and tarka!! I want to compare the tastes!!! I will let u know. I made the tasty Cavalo nero dish last week. Mmmmmm yum.

        • frugalfeeding
          April 28, 2015 at 12:13 pm

          No worries – thanks for your email too! I hope you enjoy all the Indian dishes, they’re some of my favourites!

  7. Maggie
    April 18, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Oops…. Sorry about spelling …… Silly ipad!!!

  8. Anna
    June 9, 2016 at 11:03 am

    Why did my Toor dali come out rather bitter, I wonder? I rinsed it both before and after cooking (second rinse because of the slight bitterness I noticed when I tasted it). Maybe I should have cooked it longer before adding it to the dish? Thanks for your help.

  9. Janice Somersall-French
    November 2, 2018 at 2:44 am

    love the mushroom soup. cream cheese was not in the pantry so I used rice and the results was wonderful. I am going through the recipes and enjoying them.

  10. Rosalind Birch
    May 8, 2019 at 2:24 pm

    Looks very appetising am about to search Amazon to see if you have a book published.

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