Bhuni Dal



Sometimes it pays off to be a bit forensic in your approach towards learning; taking time in breaking down every step helps perfecting one’s understanding and comes a long way- especially when things go wrong. This approach is my fixing tool in the kitchen and worth all the time spent with my mum and my grandmother.

Dal means lentil. Bhuna means roasted, not fried.
Most of them are even foreign to the generic name as it is famously known as Dal-fry, contrary to Dal roast.
Dal Bhuna or Bhuni Dal is a recipe made with lentils that are roasted on high flame.

In all generosity, this recipe can be made with one or many types of dal with an elaborated, long list of tempering elements.
I prefer to keep it simple with few essential ingredients and two kinds of lentils in the suggested ratio of  3:1. Hence, the bold flavours of lentils come into play- one dominating while the other humble yet empowering.
Now let's get to the recipe.


Dal Bhuni
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 4 people

3/4 cup of masoor dal (red split lentils)
1/4 cup tur dal/arhar dal(split pigeon peas/gram lentil)
4 cups of water
For Tempering:
1 tbsp of melted ghee(clarified butter)/oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
3 red vine tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 green chillies, slit lengthwise or chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
For Serving/ Garnishing:
1 tsp of lemon juice/wedges/segments
1 tbsp of fresh coriander, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped (optional)


Step 1: Roasting Dal

Dry roast the lentils in a pan on high flame just for 2-3 mins, frequently stirring to ensure they don't burn.

Step 2: Cooking Dal


Soak the lentils in hot water for 5 mins in a dutch oven/deep pot/crock-pot. Then on a high flame, cook the lentils to see a layer of scum forming. Discard this scum, put the lid on and cook for about 20 mins on a low flame.

Keep an eye for the water level in between to avoid the lentils from burning.

Step 3: Preparing Tadka (tempering)- Chop all the ingredients for the Tadka. It's an excellent practice to chop green chilli first and then tomatoes next. Keep all the dry ingredients ready.

Step 4: Making Tadka


Heat ghee or oil in a pan on medium-high and add cumin seeds first. The cumin seeds should sizzle in the oil, indicating the right temperature for the rest of the ingredients to go next.
Then lower the flame and add minced garlic, chopped onion followed by salt and sauté them until the moisture evaporates and the raw smell of onion-garlic subsides.


Now, add dhania-jeera powder, chopped tomatoes followed by chopped green chilli and cover the pan's lid and cook until the tomatoes turn mushy.


Then, add the red chilli powder, turmeric and cook until the oil releases on the corners/sides of the pan. This preparation is called Tempering or Tadka.

Now take a spoon full of dal and mix into the tadka. This step brings the temperature of the tadka down and avoids the splatter if done the other way of adding tadka into the dal.

Step 5: Mixing tadka into the Dal (not dal into the tadka)


Now, mix this tadka with the remaining dal in the pot and simmer it further for 5 mins.

Serving suggestions: This dal is best served with any complimenting rice dish or any flatbreads available.


On adding Salt after adding Onion in Tadka - salt fastens the process of sautéing onion, as salt is known to take away the moisture, correctly preparing the onion to welcome other spices and tomatoes.

So, I usually add salt after adding onion; this makes the tempering capture all the flavours of the spices that are going to be included later, helping the aroma from the tadka to infuse into the daal, enhancing the character of the whole dish.

We enjoyed this Dal Bhuna today with plain pitta nan and fish.!


Please leave your comments and share a picture on Instagram at #lets_curry



  1. Haye daal toh sab ki favourite hai. 😋😋

  2. I really appreciated your helpful step by step instructions. They make this recipe so easy to follow... and I love your seasoning blend. YUM!

    1. Thanks, Heidi, this is one of our family favourites. ❤


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