Turmeric Daal

by | Jan 31, 2017 | 12 comments

Turmeric Daal - Cook Republic #vegan #glutenfree

We eat daal once a week, sometimes twice or even thrice (when I am feeling especially lazy). I have cooked at least fifty different kinds of daal on thousands of occasions. But for some inexplainable reason, I don't have a single daal recipe on the blog. None. So this year as I return to cooking and blogging just for the sheer pleasure of it all, I thought I would share the daal that runs through my vein (quite literally) because growing up, I ate this daal at least 2-3 times a week. It was what I called - magic daal. Because it changed from a fiery orange to a bright canary yellow after it cooked. What???


My little four year old brain couldn't get over the wonder of it all. The only reasonable explanation little old me could sum up was that the colour was because of turmeric. It made sense right? And so this became Turmeric Daal. And I would request it every week and weekends and on my birthday too. It was also one of the first mains I learned to cook when I was in primary school. I can cook this daal in my sleep. It is my can't-be-bothered-to-cook backup meal that comes together in a pot in literally 5 minutes and then cooks itself to perfection. It is the single most cooked meal in my home - cheap and nourishing, the ultimate comfort food.

Turmeric Daal - Cook Republic #vegan #glutenfree

This recipe must be at least forty years old and I am sure my mum made it up at some point or learned it from my grandma. It is a medley of spices along the south-west border of India, mainly Mumbai. The garnishes hint at a Southern India influence where green chillies and curry leaves adorn every single dish. The smell of curry leaves frying in a bit of oil is one of the most tantalising cooking smells ever. And maybe that is one of the reasons why I like to cook this a lot, it reminds me of monsoon in Mumbai and cozy comforting family meals in the dim light of our little kitchen.

Turmeric Daal - Cook Republic #vegan #glutenfree

Turmeric Daal - Cook Republic #vegan #glutenfree

Masoor is a brown skinned lentil which is a deep orange on the inside. When skinned and split, you end up with this red split lentil which is one of the easiest lentils to cook with in very little time. Where the brown skinned masoor is cooked to retain a bite and used in salads and vegetarian pasta sauces, the red split lentil cooks to a yellow mushiness and hence is perfect for daals and thickening curries. Food52 also has a nifty little article for identifying and cooking with five basic lentils that I like referring people to. Frying the lentils before cooking them in water is really good to bring out their sweet and nutty flavour. Remember to season the daal very well and keep an eye on the water level while cooking, there is nothing worse than a bland watery daal.


I love that this daal really absorbs the flavour of turmeric. Wherever I can, I try to use a tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric instead of the powder. Fresh turmeric is a beast of a spice and if used in the right quantity, can make a simple dish taste spectacular. If you cook this daal, let me know what you think by leaving a comment/rating below and/or sharing your dish with me on Instagram with #cookrepublic.


Turmeric Daal - Cook Republic #vegan #glutenfree


5 from 2 votes
Print Recipe Rate / Comment
Author: Sneh
Course // Mains
Cuisine // Gluten Free, Vegan
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 2 small green chillies, optional
  • 2 cups (280 g) red split lentils
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt flakes
  • 4 cups (1000 ml) water
  • fresh coriander leaves, to serve


  • Heat coconut oil or ghee in a deep 2-litre saucepan over medium-low. Add cumin seeds, curry leaves and chillies. Fry for a few seconds until the cumin seeds start browning. Reduce heat to low and add the lentils. Fry on low, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes until lentils are glossy and turning a shade richer.
  • Add spices and salt. Mix well. Add water and increase heat to medium-low. Cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top up with half a cup of water if most of it has evaporated. Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the lentils are cooked and creamy. The consistency of the daal should be like a thick soup.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with crusty sourdough or steamed rice.


Chilli - I will often chop a small green chilli or a small green capsicum and use that instead of 2 whole chillies in this recipe. It adds a lovely, slightly smokey flavour to the daal. When I do this, additionally I like to pan fry a sprig of curry leaves and a whole chilli or two in a bit of ghee and add it to the cooked daal as a garnish. It looks absolutely beautiful and smells divine.
Did you make my recipe?I'd love to hear how you went! Tag me on Instagram @cookrepublic




I love creating easy, vibrant, fresh, everyday recipes and taking gorgeous photos of the food I cook. I have been blogging for 15 years and I have also written a book with over 100 new recipes. If you make a recipe from the blog, Tag @cookrepublic on Instagram. I would love to see!


  1. Rebecca

    5 stars
    This is one of my favourite Dahl recipes and I keep coming back to it each time I cook curry for friends - as an extra, super surprising taste sensation! My grandfather who was born in Burma always whipped up a Dahl as an extra dish for curry night. I’m doing the same for a curry night with friends on the weekend. Something so satisfying about Dahl!! Thank you for sharing this!

  2. lwcus cwrban

    This is one of my favorites with lemon basmati rice.

  3. Iva

    Hi Sneh,
    Great recipe!
    Do you use fresh curry leaves or dried ones?


    • Sneh

      Thanks Iva! You could use either. I use fresh leaves as I have two little curry leaf trees in the backyard. 🙂

  4. Jane @ Modern Housewives

    5 stars
    This looks delicious, I can't wait to try it! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Jayani

    Hi, Home cook & food blogger all the way from Sri Lanka 🙂
    I was amazed and delighted to see this dish here, a dish that is so close to my heart - so thank you 🙂 However, thought I'll clarify a point. This dish, dhaal curry as we call it, is a popular (and may I also add, a staple) Sri Lankan dish rather than an Indian one. Of course there are south Indian influences seeing as to how we are situated directly below India, but I think it is us Sri Lankans who lay full claim and ownership to this beautiful dish. Sri Lanka has a wealth of wonderful (and ayurvedic inspired) culinary culture and it's a pity that our cuisine is often confused with Indian.
    We cook this dhaal with a generous splash of coconut oil which makes it much more creamier. Instead of the cumin and the coriander added separately, we add a teaspoon of Sri Lankan curry powder which included cumin, coriander, and a whole host of other spices which give it more body. Add a hint of chili powder and some curry leaves together with some minced garlic and you can lift this up to a whole new dimension!

    We Sri Lankans love having this with steaming rice or with some warm bread. There is never a day when we don't have dhaal for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

    Again, thank you for posting this up. I think it's time the world discovered this underrated staple of ours. Much love <3

  6. Jasmine

    Hi Sneh!
    Thanks for this recipe. I have only recently been introduced to daal. A juice cleanse program I was on a couple of weeks ago incorporated it as a meal at night. I absolutely loved it and have been trying to find a similar recipe, then yours appeared. The daal I had used a mixture of 'ayurvedic' spices, which I have recently discovered are great for general health and digestion. I'm going to give that spice mix a go with your recipe as well. Thanks so much for this recipe.

    • Terri

      Can you pls Share you advyredic spices you use pls s let me know how you make your Dahl
      Thanking you

  7. Elizabeth

    I grew up in a meat and three veg family but dal, rice some kind of veggie & yogurt raita are my my staple family meal. It's incredibly frugal, sustaining and comforting and you can make it with a virtually bare cupboard and create a simple feast.

    • Sneh

      Elizabeth, that sounds like my idea of the perfect meal. yum! I love how a bit of spice laden veggie and a dollop of yoghurt brings meals like this together.

  8. Taste of France

    Just the title made my mouth water. I am trying to replace meat more and more, and you've reminded me of daal. Perhaps for tonight. I'm saving this post!

  9. Rosa

    A lovely daal. Healthy, comforting and delicious. That is something I really like.




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