Ma Dal Recipe

Ma Dal Recipe

Or “Gurudwara Dal” as it is known in our house.

I had never really noticed this dal when I lived in India apart from wondering why it occupied such a pride of place in Punjabi Dhabas. After marriage, the husband’s African nanny gave me good lecture on why it should be very important in my life – i.e – I have to learn it because the husband – the apple of her eye- likes it. I didn’t pay much attention until the son – the apple of my eye – ate it in a gurudwara once and fell for it hook, line and sinker.

Of course, by that time, the much-loved Mary had passed away and I had to ask her able successor Ansetta – to give me a demo (Ansetta having quickly mastered the art of Indian cooking from Mary and my mother-in-law).

At this point most of our Punjabi rellies will be tut tutting and saying “You don’t love your husband, Poonma (Punjabi aunties want to call me this and not my real name) you learnt how to make this dish for your son and not him?”

Anyhow – it is a regular feature on our menu because it is so frightfully easy to make and it tastes so damn good!

Here is how I make it:

Ma Dal Recipe

Serves 4
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
A delicious and simple recipe with Urad dal.


  • 100g Black whole Urad beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 small handful kidney beans (Rajma), soaked overnight and drained
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small piece of ginger finely chopped
  • A small knob of butter
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes cut into small pieces
  • 1 red or green chilli (more if you’d like the dal to be spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp.chilli powder
  • 1 tbs. plain yoghurt
  • 1 tbs. sunflower oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander


I always make this dal the day before I want to serve it as this gives time for all the flavours to blend together.


Step 1
Put the garlic, ginger, Rajma and urad dal in a saucepan with three cups of water and cook until the dal and the Rajma is cooked. This might take about 20 minutes, less if you use a pressure cooker. Keep aside.
Step 2
In another saucepan, heat up a little oil and fry the onions and the chilli till the onions are soft and brown.
Step 3
Add in the tomatoes, turmeric, chilli powder and salt. Stir till the onions and tomatoes blend and you can see the oil separate from the mixture.
Step 4
Put the dal back on the boil and add in the fried onions and tomatoes. Stir until completely mixed. Allow to boil on simmer for a few minutes.
Step 5
Add in the yoghurt to make the dal thick.
Step 6
Garnish with coriander and serve hot with rice.