a bowl of masala chickpeas

masala chickpeas

Dishes of spiced chickpeas can be found across all of India. This is the Punjabi chole, or channa masala, as it is more commonly known..

a bowl of black-eyed pea curry

black-eyed pea curry

Recipes for black-eyed pea curry are common across all of India. This is the Goan way. It has plenty of chilli and coconut and a touch of tomato. This dish, alsande tonak, is a robust, spicy, hot preparation.

a serving bowl of dal with an omelette chopped into it

dal with egg

A simple dal, dal omeletter is a yellow dal with pickled chillies and a sliced omelette stirred through. Wholesome, flavourful everyday food.

a serving bowl of dal makhani

dal makhani

This dish epitomises the taste and style of the Punjab. A smooth texture, delicate flavour layers and a hint of chilli makes this dish of lentils and red kidney beans a global favourite.

a serving bowl with Bengali dal

Bengali dal

Bengali dal is the local version of tarka dal. This Peyaj dal has a slightly sweet taste because of the way the onions are caramelised in jaggery which balances the bite of the chilli.

a bowl of Hyderabadi mixed dal on a platter with roti

Gujarati mixed dal

This delicious, nourishing dish of mixed dal is a family favourite and is so healthy. Called keoti dal, it is from Gujarat and is quite robustly spiced.

a plate of white rice with a serving of dal with spinach on top

dal and spinach

Creamy, nutritious, protein-rich, iron and mineral-rich, fibre-rich, this dal and spinach dish, or dal palang is probably the healthiest recipe in this cookbook.

a bowl of tarka dal

tarka dal

Lentils, with spiced oil added just before serving are eaten all across India. There are wide regional differences – this one is our family version and is typical of the Rajasthani cuisine.

a serving bowl of yellow dal

yellow dal

A very simple and basic recipe for cooking dal. In this recipe, split pigeon peas are cooked with split red lentils to produce a simple dal. This dal uppu paruppu or dhandar can be used as the basis of other dishes, such as tarka dal, or dal with eggs. It also makes a great side dish. Another comfort food recipe.

a plate of lentil dumplings with cocnut chutney

lentil dumplings

These are savoury fried snacks, originating from the south of India. They can be described variously as fritters, cutlets, doughnuts, or dumplings. This recipe for medu vada is our family recipe for a simple lentil-based vada.

a bowl of vegetable sambar

vegetable sambar

Sambar is a dish from the tradition of lentil-based vegetable soups from southern India. This is our family recipe for a simple vegetable sambar, or sabzi sambar.

four bowls of uncooked dal

what is dal?

Dal, when referred to as an ingredient, is often taken to mean lentils, but really refers to lentils, peas, chickpeas, kidney beans and so on. This essay looks at these ingredients.