Authentic Punjabi Urad Dal Recipe: A Flavorful North Indian Delight

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

If you’re craving a hearty and comforting dish, Punjabi Urad Dal might just become your new favorite. This traditional North Indian recipe features black gram lentils cooked to perfection, creating a creamy and flavorful experience that’s both nutritious and satisfying. It’s often enjoyed with roti or rice, making it a versatile addition to any meal.

Originating from the vibrant Punjab region, this dal is known for its rich taste and aromatic spices. The slow-cooked lentils absorb the flavors of cumin, garlic, ginger, and garam masala, resulting in a dish that’s bursting with authentic Indian flavors. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply cooking for your family, Punjabi Urad Dal promises to be a crowd-pleaser every time.


  • 1 Cup Black Gram Lentils (Urad Dal) – Soaked for 4 hours
  • 2 Cups Water – For cooking the lentils
  • 1 Large Onion – Finely chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes – Pureed
  • 4 Cloves Garlic – Minced
  • 1-Inch Ginger Piece – Grated
  • 2 Green Chilies – Slit lengthwise
  • 2 Tablespoons Ghee or Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • Salt to Taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garam Masala
  • Fresh Cilantro Leaves – Chopped, for garnish

Make sure you have all ingredients prepared and measured before starting. This will ensure a smooth cooking process and help you achieve the authentic Punjabi flavors in your Urad Dal.

Required Tools and Equipment

To prepare Punjabi Urad Dal efficiently, gather the following tools and equipment. Having everything ready will streamline your cooking process and ensure the best results.

Essential Cooking Tools

  1. Large Bowl: For soaking black gram lentils overnight.
  2. Colander: To drain soaked lentils before cooking.
  3. Pressure Cooker or Large Pot: Essential for cooking the urad dal to a soft consistency.
  4. Spatula or Wooden Spoon: For stirring ingredients consistently without damaging cookware surfaces.
  5. Knife and Cutting Board: To chop onions, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and green chilies finely.

Measuring Tools

  1. Measuring Cups: To measure lentils and water accurately.
  2. Measuring Spoons: For precise amounts of spices like cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, salt, and garam masala.

Other Equipment

  1. Small Skillet or Pan: For tempering spices in ghee or oil to enhance flavor before adding them to the dal.
  2. Ladle or Serving Spoon: Useful for serving cooked dal with precision.

With all these tools on hand, you can create an authentic Punjabi Urad Dal with ease while ensuring each step is carried out smoothly and efficiently.

Preparation Steps

Follow these steps to prepare the perfect Punjabi Urad Dal. Ensure you have all your ingredients prepped and tools ready for a smooth cooking experience.

Washing and Soaking the Urad Dal

  1. Measure: Take 1 cup of black gram lentils (urad dal).
  2. Rinse: Place the dal in a bowl and rinse thoroughly under running water until the water is clear.
  3. Soak: Fill the bowl with enough water to cover the dal by about 2 inches. Let it soak for at least 4 hours or overnight for best results.
  4. Drain: After soaking, drain the water from the dal using a fine mesh strainer.

Chopping Vegetables and Preparing Spices

  1. Onions: Finely chop 2 medium-sized onions.
  2. Tomatoes: Dice 3 medium-sized tomatoes into small pieces.
  3. Garlic and Ginger: Crush or finely grate 5 cloves of garlic and a 1-inch piece of ginger.
  4. Green Chilies (Optional): Slice 2 green chilies lengthwise if you prefer extra heat.
  5. Spices:
  • Measure out:
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  1. Cilantro Leaves: Roughly chop a handful of fresh cilantro leaves for garnishing later.

Cooking Instructions

Follow these steps to create a delicious and authentic Punjabi Urad Dal.

Cooking the Dal

  1. Soak Lentils: Soak 1 cup of black gram lentils (urad dal) in water for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Rinse and Drain: Rinse the soaked lentils thoroughly under running water and drain.
  3. Boil Lentils: In a large pot, add the soaked lentils along with 4 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  4. Cook Until Soft: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to low heat and simmer for about 30-40 minutes until the lentils are soft and tender.

Adding Vegetables and Finishing

  1. Heat Oil: Heat 3 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Sauté Aromatics: Add finely chopped onions (1 large), minced garlic (4 cloves), grated ginger (1-inch piece), and sauté until golden brown.
  3. Add Tomatoes & Spices: Stir in finely chopped tomatoes (2 large) along with 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder, and cook until tomatoes turn mushy.
  4. Combine with Dal: Pour this mixture into the cooked dal, mix well, and let it simmer together for another 10-15 minutes on low heat.
  5. Finish with Garnish: Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves before serving hot.

Assembling the Dish

  1. Combine Lentils and Aromatics:
    Once your lentils are tender, drain any excess water. Add the cooked lentils to the pan with sautéed onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and spices. Stir well to ensure all ingredients are evenly mixed.
  2. Simmer for Flavor Infusion:
    Reduce heat to low and let the mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes. This allows the flavors of the spices and aromatics to meld with the creamy texture of the urad dal.
  3. Adjust Consistency:
    If you prefer a thinner consistency, add a little warm water or vegetable broth at this stage. Stir until you reach your desired thickness.
  4. Season to Taste:
    Taste your dish and adjust salt as needed. You can also add more garam masala if you want an extra kick of flavor.
  5. Garnish:
    Just before serving, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves for a burst of freshness and color.
  6. Serve Hot:
    Serve your Punjabi Urad Dal hot alongside steamed basmati rice or warm naan bread for a complete meal experience.
  7. Optional Accompaniments:
    Pair with pickled vegetables or a cooling raita to balance out the rich flavors of the dal.

Serving Suggestions

To fully enjoy the rich flavors of Punjabi Urad Dal, consider pairing it with a variety of traditional accompaniments. Here are some serving suggestions to elevate your meal:

  1. Basmati Rice: Serve hot Punjabi Urad Dal over fluffy basmati rice. The aromatic rice enhances the creamy texture and spices of the dal.
  2. Naan or Roti: Accompany your dal with warm naan or roti for a classic combination. These breads are perfect for scooping up the flavorful lentils.
  3. Pickled Vegetables (Achar): A side of Indian pickles adds a tangy and spicy contrast to the dal’s richness. Popular choices include mango pickle, lime pickle, or mixed vegetable pickle.
  4. Yogurt (Dahi) or Raita: Cool yogurt or cucumber raita balances the spiciness and provides a refreshing element to your meal.
  5. Papadum: Crisp papadums add a delightful crunch and complement the soft texture of the dal.
  6. Side Salad: A simple salad made from sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, and fresh cilantro with a squeeze of lemon juice offers a fresh counterpoint to the hearty dal.
  7. Ghee Tadka: Drizzle extra ghee tempered with cumin seeds and garlic on top of your dal just before serving for an added layer of flavor and aroma.

Create an authentic dining experience by arranging these accompaniments around your main dish in small bowls on a large platter or thali for easy access during mealtime.

Make-Ahead Tips

Making Punjabi Urad Dal in advance can save you time and enhance the flavors. Here are some tips to help you prepare this dish ahead of time:

Soak Lentils Ahead

Soak the black gram lentils overnight or for at least 8 hours. This not only reduces cooking time but also improves texture and digestibility.

Prepare Aromatics In Advance

Chop your onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger beforehand. Store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator so they are ready when you start cooking.

Pre-Cook The Dal

You can pre-cook the urad dal up to two days in advance. Boil the soaked lentils until they are tender but still hold their shape. Cool completely before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Make The Masala Base

Prepare the masala base by sautéing onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, and spices as instructed in your recipe. Once cooked down to a thick paste, cool it and store it separately from the lentils.

Reheat And Combine

When you’re ready to serve, simply reheat both the pre-cooked lentils and masala base together on medium heat until they meld into a creamy consistency. Add water if needed to adjust thickness.

Freeze For Later Use

For longer storage, freeze portions of cooked dal and masala base separately. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before reheating as described above.

Following these make-ahead tips, you’ll find preparing Punjabi Urad Dal convenient without sacrificing its rich flavors.


Punjabi Urad Dal is more than just a dish; it’s a comforting embrace of tradition and flavor. By following the steps outlined, you can recreate this beloved North Indian staple right in your kitchen. The rich combination of black gram lentils, aromatic spices, and fresh cilantro will leave your taste buds satisfied.

Pair it with basmati rice or naan to elevate your dining experience. With the make-ahead tips provided, you can enjoy the convenience of having this flavorful dal ready whenever you crave it. Dive into the world of Punjabi cuisine and let every bite tell a story of tradition and taste.

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