14 Indian Lentil (Daal) Dishes

North Indian Chickpea Curry

Nataša Mandić/Stocksy United

Daal is a term used on the Indian subcontinent for dried, split pulses, meaning lentils, peas, and beans. The word can also be used to describe various soups made from the pulses. Among the most important staple foods in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, pulses play a major role in a largely vegetarian cuisine due to their high protein content. They're often served with rice and/or flatbreads such as chapati and naan and accompanied by a salad or vegetable side dish for a complete meal.

There are a great many daal recipes in Indian cuisine but here are just a few delicious ones to get you started.

  • 01 of 14

    Daal-Palak Ka Shorba Lentil and Spinach Soup

    Daal-Palak Ka Shorba Lentil and Spinach Soup
     William Reavell / Getty Images

    Made from scratch with spinach and orange lentils, this simple soup dish is as tasty as it is good for you. Serve it with crusty bread anytime of the year, but especially to warm you when the weather is cold.

  • 02 of 14

    Rajma Dal- Red Kidney Bean Curry

    Red Kidney Bean Curry

     Thrivingveg / Flickr

    Rajma dal is a rustic, one-pan, vegetarian red kidney bean curry dish popular in northern India, but enjoyed throughout the country. The beans are cooked in a spicy paste featuring ginger, garlic, chilies, and tomatoes and traditionally served with plain boiled rice, Kachumbar salad, and a pickle.

  • 03 of 14

    Sambar - South Indian Lentil Curry

    Sambar - South Indian Lentil Curry

     Haynes / Flickr / CC 2.0

    This Indian vegetable stew with tamarind that is typically served piping hot with idlis (a savory cake), vadas (fritters) or plain rice.

  • 04 of 14

    Kaali Daal - North Indian Black Lentils

    Kaali Daal - North Indian Black Lentils

     Jelena Jojic Tomic / Stocksy United

    Kaali daal is also known as ma ki daal (mom's lentils) since it is wholesome and delicious! Black lentils are cooked with spices, tomatoes and cream for the ultimate in Indian comfort food. Serve it with a vegetable side dish and Naan (tandoor baked flatbread) or butter chicken.

    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    Masala Daal

    Masala Dal

    AnnaPustynnikova / Getty Images

    This tasty lentil dish goes just as well with hot chapatis as it does with plain boiled rice. Throw in a salad or a veggie and you've got the perfect vegetarian meal!

  • 06 of 14

    Chole - North Indian Chickpea Curry

    Chole chickpea curry recipe

    ​The Spruce Eats / Nita West

    Classically North Indian, chole (pronounced chho-lay) or chickpea curry probably has almost as many variations as there are households in North India.

    This dish is best eaten the day it's prepared and is sure to be a crowd-pleaser when served piping hot and accompanied by pooris or bhatooras (fried Indian bread).

  • 07 of 14

    Tadka Daal - Tempered Lentils

    Tadka Daal - Tempered Lentils

     Aparna Balasubramaniam / Getty Images

    This mild, tasty yet easy-to-cook daal dish is hugely popular in India and has an almost endless array of variations.

    Hugely popular, it can be made ahead and frozen. When ready to eat just thaw, heat through, temper and serve with plain boiled rice or any side dish you like.

  • 08 of 14

    Shahi Daal - Mixed Lentil Curry

    Shahi Daal
    Viktorné Lupaneszku / Getty Images

    This regal, soup-like dish combines five different kinds of daals (lentils) and is therefore also known as panchratan (five gems) daal. Serve it with naan or plain boiled rice and a salad.

    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    Sooki Moong Ki Daal - Stir Fried Moong Daal

    Sooki Moong Ki Daal - Stir Fried Moong Daal
    Joel Santos / Getty Images 

    Unlike other daal dishes which usually have a soup-like consistency, this tasty lentil dish is actually dry. Serve it hot chapatis (Indian flatbread) or parathas (pan-fried Indian flatbread) and your favorite pickles.

  • 10 of 14

    Daal Gosht - Meat With Lentils

    Daal Gosht

    Magrig / Getty Images

    Daal gosht, or dal gosht, is a popular dish of spicy cubed lamb, a blend of herbs and plain lentils. In Pakistani and North Indian cuisine, this is a wholesome one-pot meal that's easily doubled or tripled for large gatherings. Just add a green salad and you're in for a satisfying meal.

  • 11 of 14

    Dahi Vada - Savory Lentil Doughnuts in Yogurt

    Dahi Vada - Savory Lentil Doughnuts in Yogurt

    Visage / Getty Images 

    This easy savory dish of Dahi Vada is North Indian in origin and serves equally well as a main dish, an accompaniment to other meat or vegetable dishes on a special occasion or even just a tasty snack. While it looks a bit tricky to make, it's actually much more simple and well worth the effort.

  • 12 of 14

    Moong Daal Ka Cheela - Savory Moong Bean Pancakes

    Moong Dal Cheela

    nata_vkusidey / Getty Images

    These savory pancakes are equally well-received as a breakfast food or an accompaniment to any gravy-based dish. Just remember to factor in the lentil soaking time when planning to make these.

    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    Moong Daal Ka Vada Fritters

    Moong Daal Ka Vada Fritters

     Vibhision K Soni / Dreamstime.com

    On a street corner in Delhi's busy Laipat Nagar market, you'll find hot-off-the-fire, freshly fried mangodis, served with tangy mint-coriander chutney.

    They're not complicated to make at home if you allow for some pre-planning for the moong daal to soak overnight.

  • 14 of 14

    Moong Daal Halwa

    Moong daal halwa

    Kailash Kumar/Getty Images

    An unusual savory ingredient - lentils - is the hidden secret behind this rich, delicious dessert. Serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and everyone will be back for seconds.