Indian Vaal DalFeatured

Indian Vaal Dal


For 4 Person(s)

For the dal

  • 400 g split dried fava beans
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 4 cm piece of root ginger, peeled and cut into half a dozen chunks
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 5 small green chillies, 2 finely chopped, 2 or 3 left whole

For the tarka

  • 2 tbsp oil - ideally groundnut or ghee, but sunflower is fine
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced (or a small red onion)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • bunch of fresh coriander, chopped to serve


The dal:

Put the beans in a large heavy-bottomed pan with a lid and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes then drain, rinse and return to the pan. This time cover with about 2 litres of cold water, bring back to the boil and add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and chopped chillies with a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat and put the lid on – leaving space for steam to escape.

Simmer the dal very gently, stirring occasionally and checking that it isn’t sticking – add a little more water if required. After 30 to 40 minutes the beans will have broken down and become creamy.

Now either add a little boiling water or reduce the dal further to achieve your preferred consistency. Season to taste – be quite bold with the salt and perhaps try a little sugar. Stir in the two whole chillies and simmer for a further 15 minutes.

The tarka: 

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the shallots. Stir until golden and beginning to crisp, but don’t allow to burn. Add the dried spices and cook for a couple of minutes until the mustard seeds are popping.

To serve: 

Stir the spices and shallots (the tarka) and half the chopped coriander into the dal. Garnish with the remaining chopped coriander.