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Dal Fry

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Dal fry is an essential Indian Dal. To many of us, it is just great, hearty, warm comfort food. It is an example of dhaba food. Dhaba are roadside stalls, or truck stops, that serve mainly comfort food for the weary traveler.

Dal fry is made with simple ingredients. In this recipe, I make it in the Instant Pot, but it can easily be made on the stovetop or regular pressure cooker. The mix of lentils that I use, toor, masoor, and moong, is a common combination for this dish, but other lentils are easily substituted. What defines dal fry is the oil, hence the “fry” in the name. 

Bowl of Dal Fry

Dal fry isn’t technically fried, but it is made with a lot of oil when tempering the spices (vaghaar or tadka). The oil is added to the dal mixture to add richness and a luxurious taste.

Dal Fry is a very similar dish to Dal Tadka, with the only major difference being the amount of oil added when tempering. Enjoy this classic dish with a side of basmati rice for a nice, rich, hearty meal.

Bowl of dal fry

Dal Fry

A warm, rich dhaba comfort food made with simple ingredients
4.72 from 7 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 398 kcal



For the Dal

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 small onion about ½ cup chopped finely chopped
  • 1 green chili
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili
  • ½ tbsp garlic
  • ½ tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • ½ cup toor dal (pigeon pea)
  • ½ cup masoor dal
  • 2 tbsp moong dal
  • 2 cups water

For the Vaghar

  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 3 whole red chilies
  • tsp hing
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • ½ tsp ginger finely chopped
  • ¼ cup onion finely chopped
  • ½ tsp kasoori methi powdered
  • ½ tsp kashmiri chili


Make the Dal

  • Add ghee or oil to a pan. Allow the cumin to toast slightly. Then add onion. When the onion has browned, remove ¼ cup of the mixture from the pan.
  • Add green chili. Then add turmeric, kashmiri chili, garlic, ginger paste, salt. Allow that to cook for a minute.
  • Add rinsed dal (toor, massor and moong) and two cups of water. Cookin your pressure cooker or Instant Pot for 7 minutes (3 whistles).
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and add 2 tbsp of cold butter and stir.


  • Add your ghee to a small, deep pan.
  • Then add cumin, red chilies, hing, and curry leaves. Let that toast slightly.
  • Then add garlic, ginger, and onions. Let that cook until the onions are golden.
  • Add kasoori methi (powdered fenugreek leaves) and kashmiri chillies. Remove from heat so it doesn’t burn.
  • Add the vaghar to your dal. I like to mix half in with the dal and pour the rest over the top for a nice look.



Calories: 398kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 13gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 14gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 58mgSodium: 100mgPotassium: 364mgFiber: 12gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 111IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 66mgIron: 4mg
Keyword dal, dal fry, dhaba
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Categorized as Dal

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