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.

10 thoughts on “Toor Dal

  1. Eva

    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!

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