North Indian Curried Lentils with Vegetables – Sabji Dal


North Indian Curried Lentils with Vegetables – Sabji Dal


Dal, the Indian term for cooked dry legumes, such as lentils, peas and beans, is basic to cuisines throughout South Asia. Dal is the accompanying dish to curries for a dinner, or the principal dish, when accompanied by rice or the whole wheat flat bread chapatti, for lighter meals. Although soupy, dal is not served as a soup.

Here is a procedurally simplified version of a North Indian vegetable dal, but it approximates the original result well. The ingredients are available at many supermarkets as well as at natural food stores and Indian grocery stores. 

The recipe serves six, but leftovers store and reheat well.


2 cups split red lentils (Masoor dal) 

6 1/2 cups water

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

1 small onion, diced

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds

1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 medium carrot, peeled, split lengthwise then cut in 1/4-inch slices

1 cup green beans, tips removed and beans cut in 1-inch lengths

1 small zucchini, split lengthwise then cut in 1/2-inch slices

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

10 sprigs cilantro, coarsely chopped, for finishing

2 green onions, green and white parts in 1/4-inch slices, for finishing


Rinse and drain the lentils. Put in a large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, and skim off the foam that collects. Add the butter, onion and spices (not the salt). Reduce heat and simmer five minutes. 

Add the carrot and green beans and simmer until vegetables are becoming tender (10-15 minutes). Add salt and zucchini, Simmer until zucchini is tender, 8-10 minutes. If liquid is cooking down add a little water. Taste and add salt as needed. 

Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and green onion. 

Serve with rice or chapatti.

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