Toor Dal Recipe (Split Pigeon Pea Lentils)

A simple and quick toor dal recipe, best had with freshly made white or brown rice. Comfort food at its best!

Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Pea Lentils)

Take a peek into the pantry of an Indian kitchen and you will definitely find a container of the humble toor dal sitting in a corner, somewhere. 

Dal is an essential component of an Indian meal and the beauty of it is that it is extremely easy to prepare and so very nutritious. 100 grams of toor contains a whopping 22 grams of protein, 15 grams dietary fibre and just 1.5 grams fat. 

Toor dal, or any dal, for that matter is best had with plain rice or as part of a combo meal consisting of a vegetable, dal, rice and roti (Indian bread). The dal is cooked and then tempered with garlic and dry red chillies. 

However, it's really up to you how you want to eat it! It tastes great as a thin soup too. And you can do away with the tempering if you wish to have it this way. Soupy dal was my kids' favourite when they were growing up.

North Indians prefer to cook their dal with just one or two spices like red  chilli powder, and maybe, turmeric plus salt. In South India, however, this simple dal takes on a completely different avatar! It is the base for a spicy, tangy preparation called 'sambar' in which all sorts of other stuff like vegetables, tamarind and a medley of spices is thrown in. It tastes yum, but that's another story. 

If you're yearning for simple, uncomplicated comfort food that's light on the stomach, try this toor dal recipe. Have the dal as a topping with plain white or brown rice and enjoy!

Toor dal with rice

Toor Dal Recipe (Split Pigeon Pea Lentils)


  • 250 grams split pigeon pea lentils or toor dal
  • 800 ml water
  • 1 level tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • Salt

For tempering:

  • 2 tbsp pure ghee 
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 dry red chilli


1. Wash lentils very well before cooking. The easiest way to do this is to pass them through a sieve under running water. When the water runs clear, the lentils are washed.

2. Tip the washed lentils in a pressure cooker and add water. Add ground chilli, turmeric and salt and close the lid.

3. Cook on high until full pressure is built up (one whistle). Lower the heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

4. Remove from the stove and wait for the steam to escape naturally (10-12 minutes). If you're in a hurry, you can place the cooker under cold, running water and the cooker will be depressurized instantly. You'll hear a popping sound. Don't worry, the contents won't spill out because the lid is still latched. 

5. Transfer the cooked lentils to a dish and prepare the tempering.


1. Heat ghee in a small frypan and add garlic and dry red chilli. When the garlic turns brown, pour the whole thing in the dal. 

Serves 4.


1. Toor dal, dry red chillies and Kashmiri chilli powder are all readily available in Indian grocery stores. Toor also goes by the name 'arhar'.

2. If you don't have the patience to wait for the pressure in the cooker to drop naturally (I don't, sometimes), and you want to do the trick described in step 4, cook the lentils for a couple minutes more. When you wait for the cooker to open on its own, the lentils continue to cook in the steam that's already trapped inside. But, if you interrupt this process by letting cold water wash over the cooker, there is a chance that the lentils will be under-done. To compensate for that, simply keep the cooker on the stove just a bit longer! (2-3 minutes more, at the most).

Toor dal and rice
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