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Mom's Dal

Katie Stilo
Cook Time:
40 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

A bowl of dal and rice (or bread or roti or whatever grain you have on hand), is an entirely contained healthy meal that can be made with little to no thought or complication. I used to sit at the kitchen table finishing my homework as my mom would whip something like this together for all of us to eat as we all finished up our respective activities. We would come home to eat together, listen to the spices popping and be wrapped in the scents of cooked rice and aromatics. It is one of my most formative memories and one that always reminds me of home.

Technique tip: You can stop after step 2, drizzle ghee over the top, and serve as is if you're short on time.


  • 1 cup dal (such as split yellow mung beans), rinsed, then soaked for 10 minutes
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
  • 2 green chiles, slit
  • 1/4 cup curry leaves, stems removed
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • cooked rice or another cooked grain or bread of choice, for serving



Drain dal then place in a saucepan and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cook at medium-low heat for 20 minutes, until dal softens.


Stir in turmeric and salt. Cook for another 20 minutes, until dal is very soft but still somewhat holds its shape.


Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot (it will start to shimmer), add mustard seeds and cumin. As soon as the mustard seeds pop, add the onion, garlic, ginger, green chiles and curry leaves.


Sauté until everything browns a little and the curry leaves turn a shade darker, about 1 minute. Stir the mixture into the dal. Taste and add salt, if needed, and drizzle ghee on top for added richness. Serve over rice.