158. tuvar dal(split pigeon pea curry)

August 24, 2012mayurisjikoni
Blog post

Neel’s orange dal

Tuvar dal (split pigeon pea curry) is common in a lot of Gujarati homes. It is usually made at least twice a week if not more. Neel use to call it orange dal. He still loves his orange dal with steaming  rice and hot hot rotlis. Tuvar dal made by Patels is quite different from that made by  the other Gujarati communities. Tuvar dal was a standard feature in most wedding parties before fusion food and other cuisines took over the scenario. I remember sitting on the floor and having tuvar dal and laddoos at weddings. There were no tables and chairs laid out at that time. Everyone sat on an endless length of gunny bag material and food was served. Patel tuvar dal tends to be both sweet and tangy. Dada would say he can smell dal as soon as he would enter our compound. The other day my Nami tried out the kadhi recipe and loved it so hope one day she will try out the orange dal recipe. Neel, if your mouth is watering already, rush down with the recipe to Michelle’s house or surprise everyone by making it yourself. All the ingredients are readily available in Indian grocery shops. Garam masala too is available but most commercial ones miss out on certain ingredients.


4 Servings

½ cup tuvar dal (split pigeon pea lentils)
5 cups water
½ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
½ tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
½ tsp musard seeds (rai)
¼ to ½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp dhana jiru (coriander cumin powder)
¼ tsp clove powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp garam masala or dal masala
12 to 14 peanuts
3 kokum or 1 tbsp lemon juice or 2 tbsps tamarind pulp
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 to 6 cloves
6 to 8 peppercorns 
1 to1½ tsp salt
¼ to ½ tsp chilli paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 cup fresh tomato puree
2 tbsps grated jaggery (gur) or brown sugar
pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1 tbsp ghee ( clarified butter) or oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

Recipe for Garam masala :
1 tbsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp black cumin seeds ( shahijeera)
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp peppercorns
¼ nutmeg (grate it)
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp mace powder ( javantri)
1 piece star anise
1 dried bay leaf
1 tsp ginger powder
2 inch cinnamon stick

Roast all the ingredients except the powders in a pan or frying pan over low heat till you get a pleasant aroma and find that the spices are beginning to turn brown. This takes about 4 to 5 minutes. Remember roast over low heat. Let the mixture cool. Grind in a  grinder to a fine powder. Add the remaining powders and mix well. Store in an airtight jar. Can use it for other curry dishes too.
My dal masala is made by Nunu. She mixes a million spices to make it and it has th most amazing aroma. I store it in the freezer in a jar to maintain the freshness and aroma.

Procedure for tuvar dal :

  1. Wash and soak tuvar dal in 2 cups of warm water for at least half an hour or more.
  2. Put the dal along with the water in a pressure cooker. Add ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds and turmeric powder. Cover the pressure cooker and let the lentils cook over medium heat for 3 whistles. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook it in a pan partially covered but you may need more water and it will take longer.
  3. When the lentils are done, pass it through a big sieve to obtain a smooth liquid. 
  4. In a small container put together the cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, kokum, peanuts, remaining fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds.
  5. In another small container put together red chilli, clove, cinnamon and the remaining turmeric powders, asafoetida, garam masala and coriander cumin powder.
  6. Heat the ghee in a small pan over medium heat. When it is hot add the mixture of whole spices you have kept ready in step 4. 
  7. When the spices begin to sizzle, add the powdered spices you have kept ready in step 5. Stir for a few seconds and immediately add the ginger and chilli paste.Stir.
  8. Add tomato puree and mix well. Add jaggery and salt. Let the gravy cook till it becomes a bit thick.
  9. Take a deep pan. Put the sieved lentil mixture into it along with the remaining water. Heat the dal up under medium heat.
  10. When the gravy is ready, add it to the simmering dal. Let it simmer over low heat for nearly 20 to 30 minutes.
  11. Just before serving garnish with coriander.
  12. Serve hot with rice or rotli.
Tips :
  • Add a few pieces of peeled and cubed suran (elephant’s foot yam) while simmering the dal. It tastes yummy.
  • Sometimes I add lemon juice or tamarind pulp along with the kokum to get a nice tangy taste.
  • Adjust the amount of spices used according to your taste.
  • This dal freezes well. Make the amount you require and freeze it in small containers.


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