Well, this should come up as a surprise to those who love to add tempering (chaunk/vaghar/tadka) to their dal (lentils/dhal/daal). Yes, a lentil curry without any tempering does sound a bit sceptical and a lot funny thinking about how it would taste without any oil. But trust me, it tastes good.
There is no real secret behind it, just the addition of a few mild spices and a different method of cooking which ensure you don’t need any oil to go into this simple dal. To start with, we add a pinch of amchoor powder to it. And then a bay leaf as well. Both of these spices bring a different flavour to the lentils and also make it more palatable. I also add half a tsp of cumin powder directly to the dal instead of throwing the cumin seeds into the tempering. Or you could dry roast the cumin seeds and add on top. We will discuss that in notes as well.
There is no compulsion of adding onion and garlic into this recipe so it could easily be categorised into a no onion garlic recipe. Although I prefer adding a small onion, chopped, and cooked along with dal. This really gives a sweet-ish flavour to the dish. But that’s your choice and the dal tastes delicious nevertheless.
I am fond of simple dal dishes for my everyday meals anyway and hence always on a lookout to try different varieties to avoid boredom in food. Some of my favourite simple and quick dal recipes are- Leshsuni dal, Gujarati dal, kacche aam ki dal etc.
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I usually make this dal with a simple side dish, on the days when I want to have lighter meals. Or sometimes along with a rich curry like shahi paneer, malai kofta etc, just to keep the fat content balanced and also to complete the platter.
Red Lentils are anyway light on stomach and carry a distinctive taste of their own. Which is another reason I prefer to use Masoor dal for this zero oil preparation and not any others like chana dal (Bengal gram), Toor dal (pigeon peas) etc.
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Masoor dal is also gets ready very quickly, in about 20 minutes if you only include cooking time in a Pressure Cooker. Some people don’t soak the red lentils before cooking but I always do, since soaking enhances the digestibility of the lentils. But you may skip it if you are in a hurry and get your dal ready under 20 minutes if you want. In the notes below, I have given the time if you are cooking in a pan instead of a Pressure Cooker.
Enough of the gyan on dals and stuff, lets quickly see how to make this healthy no oil dal for every day meals.
Nutritional info-> Low fat, low carbs and low calorie. High in protein and fiber. Rich in folic acid and vitamin B.
Yields A big bowlful for 2-3 people
5 minPrep Time
20 minCook Time
25 minTotal Time
- 1 cup red lentils (laal masoor dal)
- 3 cups of water
- A ½ inch long piece of ginger, grated or minced
- 1 medium sized tomato, chopped small
- 1 green chili, chopped fine or minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 ½ tsp salt OR to taste
- ¼ tsp amchoor powder (khatai)
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
- A pinch of asafoetida (heeng)
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- Rinse red lentils thoroughly a few times and soak for 15-20 minutes. Then pressure cook for 2 whistles at medium gas, adding all the stuff listed above, except black pepper and cumin seeds.
- Once the pressure eases off (in about 10-15 minutes), open the cooker, and mix the dal well, mashing it a bit with a ladle or back of a round spoon.
- Check for seasoning and thickness and add salt or water as per desired consistency and taste. ** If you do add water, make sure you bring the dal to a boil afterwards otherwise it will taste undercooked.
- Heat a griddle (tawa) or a flat pan at medium gas. When it gets fairly hot, turn the gas to low and throw in the cumin seeds and dry roast them for about 30 seconds at low. Keep spreading them with a spatula to avoid them burning.
- When they start turning brown, add black pepper, mix and immediately turn the gas off.
- Shred off this dry tempering onto the dal and mix well. Keep it covered for a minute, then transfer to a serving dish and enjoy.
You can also add cumin powder while cooking the dal instead of roasting it at the end. Just sprinkle some black pepper before serving.
You may also add some black salt (kala namak) while cooking to get more flavours.
If you are cooking in a pan-> Cook in 4 cups of water and cook with a lid on for about 35-40 minutes. Once cooked, proceed as above.
More simple dal recipes for your everyday meals:
Andhra style Raw mango dal– kacche aam ki dal
Gujarati sweet and sour dal– khatti meethi dal with peanuts
Gurudware ki langar wali dal– banjari dal cooked for masses
Maharashtrian Usal– Mung Sprouts dal with coconut