Toor Dal


In some parts of India it is common to combine a sweet and sour taste, particularly in lentil curries such as this one. Plan in advance when you want to make this dish as the dal has to be Soaked before you cook it.


  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) toor dal (yellow lentils)
  • 5 × 5 cm (2 inch) pieces of kokum
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 7 cloves
  • 10 cm (4 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 5 green chillies, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
  • 20 g (½ oz) jaggery or 10 g (¼ oz) molasses
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves


Soak the lentils in cold water for 2 hours. Rinse the kokum, remove any stones and put the kokum in a bowl with cold water for a few minutes to soften. Drain the lentils and put them in a heavy-based saucepan with 1 litre (4 cups) of water and the pieces of kokum. Bring slowly to the boil, then simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the lentils feel soft when pressed between the thumb and index finger.

Place a small frying pan over low heat and dry-roast the coriander seeds until aromatic. Remove and dry-roast the cumin seeds. Grind the roasted seeds to a fine powder using a spice grinder or pestle and mortar.

For the final seasoning (tarka), heat the oil in a small pan over low heat. Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. Add the curry leaves, cloves, cinnamon, chilli, turmeric and the roasted spice mix and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomato is soft and can be broken up easily and incorporated into the sauce. Add the jaggery, then pour the spicy mixture into the simmering lentils and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. Garnish with coriander leaves.