Spicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel Seeds

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
urad dal

Uniquely mild and floury in taste and aroma, split and skinned urad dal is among my favorite of Indian dals for the way it pairs so beautifully with aromatic seeds and spices and ginger. Easily digestible and quick to assemble and cook, this dal dish is thick, creamy and incredibly flavorful, and resembles an Indian-style risotto in consistency, appearance and ability to wow your guests if there is enough left over after you and your significant other to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Suitable for vegetarians as well as vegans, this dish might be an ideal way to introduce your children to the delights of Indian cuisine.

As always, split and skinned urad dal and other Indian ingredients such as curry leaves and asafetida are easily available at any Indian grocer.

Spicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel SeedsSpicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel Seeds
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on January 2, 2012

A quick and easy-to-make and easily digestible urad dal curry resembling an Indian-style risotto and packed with zesty Indian flavors

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes

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  • 1 cup split urad dal, without skins
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 green or red chili, seeded and minced
  • small handful dried curry leaves
  • pinch of asafetida
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • Rinse the urad dal under cold running water and let soak for 20 to 30 minutes in several inches of water. Drain and rinse again. Add the urad dal to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the dals are tender but still hold their shape. Remove from heat, drain, and set aside.

  • Heat the ghee or olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cumin and fennel seeds and stir for 1 minute. Add the onion and stir for 2 minutes or until the onion begins to turn translucent. Add the ginger, chili and curry leaves, and stir for 1 minute.

  • Drop in the asafetida, stir once, then add the tomato, turmeric and cayenne. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes longer to let the tomatoes start to soften. Now add the cooked urad dal and stir to coat the dal with the tomato and spices. Stir in 1 cup of water, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to heat the dal and let the flavors blend.

  • Remove from heat, stir in the salt, and serve hot over a bed of freshly cooked white rice if desired or with some Indian flatbreads, such as Naan bread.

Makes 4 servings

Spicy Urad Dal with Tomato and Fennel Seeds

Other urad dal recipes from my kitchen you may enjoy:
Urad Dal with Tomatoes (Urad Tamatar Dal)
Urad Dal with Tomatoes, Spices and Coconut
Fennel-Flavored Urad Dal Soup
Urad Dal with Fresh Fenugreek

On the top of the reading stack: River Cottage Veg Everyday by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Audio Accompaniment: Sasha


Rita said...

This has to be healthy!

catering in philippines said...

Love the food! You’re amazing. This menu is fantastic, It sure will help everyone who’s looking for a perfect menu like this. Thank you for sharing this recipe.


Rita said...

I had to come back and say Thank you! My Kitchenaid Food Processor just arrived at my door. I am in awe and still in shock. Great way to start the year. This will be my post on Monday Jan9tu.

Priya Suresh said...

Super flavourful dal.

Unknown said...

Made this for dinner but had it for lunch too. Yum x