Gujarati Dal - Sweet spicy lentil soup

Dal or lentils are one of the staples in any Indian kitchen we make regularly. But the same preparation of Dal can be dull when eaten every day, and therefore I always make sure that I make a variety of dals with different seasonings and temperings.

I often cook various lentil recipes from Indian cuisine with pigeon pea lentils, mung lentils, red lentils, and many more.

Gujarati dal recipe is made with pigeon pea lentils, also known as tur dal or arhar dal in Hindi. These are yellow-colored lentils that are halved with their husks removed, and you will find them in any Indian grocery store or online.

This dal is one of those lentil recipes that I often make as we simply love it in our house, especially my daughter. Give her a bowl of this piping hot dal with steamed rice, and she is in food heaven.

Like most Indian dal recipes, this Gujarati dal is also easy to make. The consistency of this dal is medium-thin with a mild sweet-sour spicy taste, and these ingredients lend a delightful, tangy, and spicy flavor to the dal at the same time. 

The highlight of Gujarati cuisine is that it cherishes the idea of making its dishes slightly sweet. Hence, even in this Dal, I have added a tad of jaggery and Kokum, a traditional ingredient, and a dash of fresh lemon juice to finish the dish.

These ingredients lend a perfectly sweet, tangy, and spicy flavor to the dal at the same time. 

Finally, this dal is tempered with hing, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds in oil that make the dal complete and totally irresistible.


The sweetness comes from jaggery (Indian unrefined cane sugar), and the sourness comes from Kokum. Note that Kokum may be difficult to procure, so you could opt to get that sour taste from lemon juice or tamarind pulp.

Both the sweetness and sourness can be adjusted according to your liking. But most Indian grocery stores carry Kokum, and I  usually store mine in the refrigerator as they tend to get bad quickly.

 For me, the peanut is an essential component of Gujarati dal, but it is optional, and you can choose to skip it if anyone has an allergy to peanuts. If using, then make sure you use the skinless unsalted peanuts.

 With or without peanuts, the dal always tastes good. I do this often, and I am sure your family will love it too.


       Enjoy this piping hot with steamed rice .!!!




 For cooking  Lentils

 1  cup toor dal or pigeon pea lentils
 2 to 2.5 cups water 
 ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon coriander powder 
 ½ teaspoon cumin powder
 ½ teaspoon red chili powder
 3 to 4 dried kokums 
 1cup water 
 1.5 to 2 tablespoon organic powdered jaggery powder or grated jaggery 

 1/4 cup skinless peanuts 
1 to 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro leaves)
 2 teaspoons salt (may need more for taste )

For Tempering

2 tablespoon oil
 ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
2 to 3 dry red chilies small-sized or 2 regular to large dry red chili – halved and deseeded or kept whole
8 to 10 curry leaves
1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
3 to 4 cloves
1 inch cinnamon

 1 tomato medium-sized, chopped 
 1 or 2 green chilies

 1 teaspoon shreded ginger 

For Garnish 

   1 teaspoon lemon juice 

   fresh cliantro chopped 


To make Gujarati dal, we have to cook the lentils first 

1. Clean the toor dal, arhar dal, or pigeon pea lentils by rinsing the lentils thoroughly in running water 4 to 5 times.

2. Add the rinsed dal to the pressure cooker or instant pot. Add water 2 to 2.5 cups. Pressure cook for 9-10 minutes on medium to high heat.

3. In a separate bowl, put a cup of water, add the jaggery, kokum, and peanuts, and let it sit till ready to use.

4. The lentils should have cooked thoroughly and softened really well

5. Mash the dal very well with a whisk. The lentils should be mashed very well, almost like a soup 

6. Now add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, and jaggery peanut kokum water mixture. Mix well.

7. Add water to get a medium to medium-thin consistency - if needed 

8. Mix again and bring the dal to a simmer on low heat for 7 to 8 minutes, often stirring ( saute setting for the instant pot) or give it a boil in a deep pan on the stovetop. Reduce the heat to low.

For Tempering

1. Heat oil in a pan. Crackle mustard seeds first, and then add cumin seeds.

2. Add the dry red chilies, cloves, cinnamon, curry leaves, asafoetida, and fenugreek seeds. Stir and fry for some seconds until the red chilies change color.

3. Now add the chopped tomatoes and green chilly and cook for 2-3 minutes.

4. Carefully pour this tempering mixture together with the oil in the simmering dal. Switch off the heat.

Add coriander leaves and stir. Add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice 

5. Serve the piping hot Gujarati dal and serve it with steamed rice 

 Enjoy !!     



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