Spicy, Tangy Dhal – Bangladeshi style

Yellow split pea of toovar dhal was a firm favourite in our house when I lived at home and was served on days we ate vegetables only for our fasts or when serving meat breyanis and other curries. I’d say a dhal of some sort featured on the menu at least 3-4 times a week.

This fairly easy recipe is adapted from the Bangladeshi Toovar (or ‘sour’ because of the addition of tomatoes) dhal by the wonderful Rick Stein, Uncle Rick, whom you should know I adore muchly and is very similar to the one my Mother makes.


 4- 6 servings

1 cup yellow split-peas dhal

1 l water

3 T vegetable oil

1 medium onion sliced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 t turmeric

1 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds

1 tsp fresh ground coriander seeds

2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

2cm tamarind soaked in few T hot water to make, 1 T paste

2 green chillis, slit lengthwise

salt, to taste

1 t black or brown mustard seeds

1 t cumin seeds

10 curry leaves

1 cinnamon stick, broken


Cook dhal on the  stove in 1 l water until softened and reduced. May take up to 55 minutes.

In another pot, heat  2 T oil and fry onions till soft and starting to colour. Remove  2 T onions and set aside.

Add garlic, turmeric and ground cumin and coriander and fry for a minute on low heat.

Add tomatoes and cook till they soften.

Add this mixture to the dhal along with the tamarind paste and chillies. Mix well.

You may want to add a little more water to thin. Adjust seasoning.

In small pot, fry the mustard seeds in the remaining oil on medium heat.

When they start to pop add the rest of the ingredients.

Fry till aromatic for a minute or so and add to the dhal along with reserved onions before serving.

Dhal is best served with rice or roti and a tomato sambal or vegetable pickle.

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