Try Maunika Gowardhan's dhal then check out our tarka dhal, coconut dhal with crispy paneer, aloo gobi mattar, saag aloo and more vegetarian Indian recipes.

Maunika says: "This comforting sweet and sour dhal is one that we devoured on numerous occasions growing up in India. The addition of jaggery and tamarind is common in dhals made in the west of India. I love to serve it topped with an extra dollop of ghee or butter, with some warm breads or rice."

Read our guide on what is ghee and where to buy it for advice on purchasing this ingredient.


  • 250g toor dal or red lentils, (see cook's notes)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10 fresh curry leaves
  • a pinch asafoetida
  • 2 green bird’s-eye chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbsp jaggery or light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp, or garam masala ¼ tsp Maharashtrian goda masala
  • ½ tsp mild chilli powder
  • grated to make 1 tbsp coconut
  • chopped coriander, to serve
  • chapatis or cooked basmati rice, to serve


  • STEP 1

    Put the lentils in a heavy-based pan with 1 litre water and the turmeric. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 45-50 minutes or until the lentils start to get mushy – stir well to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat, mash the lentils slightly to thicken, then cover and set aside.

  • STEP 2

    Heat the ghee in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat then add the mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves. Fry for a few seconds, then add the asafoetida and chillies. Tip in the cooked lentils, along with the jaggery, tamarind, goda masala and chilli powder, and season with salt. Mix well and fry for 1 minute. Add enough just-boiled water (about 100-200ml) to make the dhal soupy, then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir well, turn off the heat and garnish with the coconut and coriander. Serve warm with chapatis or rice.



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