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Dhabay ki Daal – Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes


A homemade version of Dhaba Dal, a creamy, flavorful dal served at north Indian roadside cafes. Chana dal, urad dal and rajma or red kidney beans along with a few simple spices make this dal both nourishing and delicious!

Dhaba dal in blue and white ceramic bowl with spoon and cilantro garnish.

Dhabas are north India’s greasy spoons– roadside shacks that dot dust-smothered highways and cater mostly to weary truckers who pull in for a hearty, hot meal before heading over to the gas station next door. Outside each dhaba are rows of charpoys, small Indian cots, where the truckers can nap awhile under the open sky.

If you’ve eaten at an Indian restaurant anywhere in the world, chances are you’ve already eaten a dish or two usually served by these unglamourous eateries: chana masala, aloo matar, and a creamy, deceptively indulgent dal that’s simply known as dhabe wali dal or dhabe ki daal.

The dal is truly special: it has lots of flavor and texture from a few spices and three varieties of legumes that make it up. Its smooth, creamy, indulgent texture belies just how healthy this dal, made right, can actually be.

Like another famous north Indian dal, Dal Makhani, Dhabe ki Dal is not vegan. Many dhaba style dishes have oodles of butter and this dal is no different. The butter gives the dal a satiny finish and a well-rounded mouth feel.

Because the butter plays such a crucial role, I add some vegan butter to round off the dish and mellow out the richness of the spices.

Table of Contents

Why you will love this dhaba dal

  • Creamy and mild. If spicy Indian food isn’t your thing, this dhaba dal is the dal for you. It is neither hot nor is it overwhelming.
  • A feast for all senses. The aroma of this dal will bring everyone to the table. It’s like turning your home into an Indian restaurant without the restaurant prices.
  • Easy recipe. This is a simple recipe, easy for nearly any cook to master, and once you have the lentils cooked and ready to go it comes together in minutes.
  • Soy-free, nut-free, gluten-free and vegan.

Ingredients

  • Legumes: Chana dal (Bengal gram dal or split chickpeas), urad dal (black gram dal) and rajma (kidney beans).
  • Spices: ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne or paprika, turmeric and garam masala.
  • Herbs: ginger-garlic paste, kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) and cilantro.
  • Vegetables: onions and tomatoes.
  • Oils: avocado oil or any oil of choice and vegan butter.

How to make dhaba dal

Legumes with turmeric in pressure cooker pan.

Place the chana dal, urad dal and rajma in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover the legumes by two inches. Add ¼th of a teaspoon of turmeric. Pressure cook or cook in Instant Pot or saucepan over stovetop until the legumes are very tender. Set aside.

Ginger garlic paste sauteing in dutch oven.

Place the oil in a Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.

Onions added to ginger garlic paste in dutch oven.

Add the onions to the pot and saute until the onions begin to brown.

Tomatoes added to dutch oven with sauteed onions and ginger garlic paste.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until tomatoes are very soft and have broken down in a pulp.

Spices added to tomatoes and onions in pot.

Add the spices to the onions and tomatoes: ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne and remaining ¼th teaspoon turmeric.

Kasoori methi added to tomatoes and onions in dutch oven.

Crush the kasoori methi in the palms of your hands and add to the pot. Mix well.

Lentils added to onions, tomatoes and spices in pot.

Add the cooked lentils to the pot along with any cooking water and mix. Remove half the lentils to a blender and carefully blend until smooth.

Blended lentils added back to pot.

Return the blended lentils to the pot and mix. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let the dal simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add more water if the dal is too thick. Add salt to taste.

Vegan butter and garam masala added to dal in pot.

Stir in the garam masala and vegan butter.

Dal cooked in pot with ladle.

Cook the dal for another couple of minutes, check for salt and add more if needed, then turn off heat. Serve hot.

Dhabe wali dal in bowl with cilantro garnish and spoon.

Top Tip

Soak the rajma beans or kidney beans in hot water for an hour or two. The beans take longer to cook than lentils and pre-soaking the beans will ensure that they get tender at the same time as the smaller lentils.

Serving suggestions

Storage instructions

  • Refrigerate: Refrigerate the dhaba dal in an airtight container for up to four days.
  • Freeze: The dal can be frozen for up to three months.
  • Reheat: Reheat the dal in a saucepan or in the microwave until warmed through. Add more water if needed. Always check and add more salt if needed after adding water.

More vegan Indian dal recipes

Dhaba dal in blue and white ceramic bowl with cilantro garnish and spoon.
Dhaba dal in ceramic bowl with cilantro and a spoon and a green napkin in background.

Dhaba Dal

A homemade version of Dhaba Dal, a creamy, flavorful dal served at north Indian roadside cafes. Chana dal, urad dal and rajma or red kidney beans along with a few simple spices make this dal both nourishing and delicious!

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SAVE RECIPE

Course: Side

Cuisine: Indian

Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 10 servings

Calories: 120kcal

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Instructions

  • Place the chana dal, urad dal and rajma in a pressure cooker with enough water to cover the legumes by two inches. Add ¼th of a teaspoon of turmeric. Pressure cook or cook in Instant Pot or saucepan over stovetop until the legumes are very tender. Set aside. (Presoaking the rajma in hot water for an hour or two before cooking with the lentils ensures the legumes cook together perfectly).

  • Place the oil in a Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute. Add the onions to the pot and saute until the onions begin to brown.

  • Stir in the tomatoes and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until tomatoes are very soft and have broken down in a pulp.

  • Add the spices to the onions and tomatoes: ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne and remaining ¼th teaspoon turmeric. Crush the kasoori methi in the palms of your hands and add to the pot. Mix well.

  • Add the cooked lentils to the pot along with 2 cups of cooking water (or just water) and mix. Remove half the lentils to a blender and carefully blend until smooth.

  • Return the blended lentils to the pot and mix. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let the dal simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add more water if the dal is too thick. Add salt to taste.

  • Stir in the garam masala and vegan butter. Cook the dal for another couple of minutes, check for salt and add more if needed, then turn off heat. Serve hot.

Nutrition Facts

Dhaba Dal

Amount per Serving

% Daily Value*

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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