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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Ann Arbor, MI!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

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Simple Slow-Cooker Yellow Dal

yellow dal recipe

“Dal” is an absolute staple in our house. It is pure and simple, Indian comfort food.

Essentially, it is spiced lentil stew. Rich, warm spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander fill my kitchen when I’m cooking dal. And the husband always loves it. Layla does too! She eats it up with no problems at all.

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You can make dal with just about any type of lentil. I like using yellow split peas – or “chana dal” because of their flavor and texture. But I’ve made dal with red lentils, small black lentils, even black eyed peas! You can use the same spice combo and switch out your legume and it still works great.

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I often serve it with some sort of “sabji” or stir-fried veggies with Indian spices, but oftentimes I’ll throw veggies like kale or sweet potato straight into the dal and eat it as a one-pot dish.

The best thing about this is – you can cook the lentils in the slow cooker, and just add in the spice mixture at the end, so your “active” time ends up being only 15 minutes! Or, if you don’t have a slow cooker, you can let it simmer on the stove for an hour or so and you’ll be good to go.

The Ingredients

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp salt

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The Directions

Step 1: Add the lentils, salt, and 3 cups of water to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.

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Step 2: When your lentils are close to done, heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add a couple cumin seeds to test out the heat of the oil. If they pop, the oil is ready to go! Add all of your cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let cook for 10-15 seconds (until the seeds pop). Then add your coriander, turmeric, cayenne, onion, tomato, and garlic, stir for 30 seconds, and turn the heat down to medium low. Let it cook until the onions become translucent and the tomatoes break down.

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Step 3: Add the onion/tomato/spice mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Top with cilantro and serve!

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How easy is that? Thanks to a slow cooker it literally is a 3 step process.

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This dal will warm you up from the inside out. It’s vegetarian, vegan and gluten free, and it is just about the tastiest healthy meal you will ever eat 🙂

Simple Slow-Cooker Yellow Dal

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours

Yield: 4 servings

Calories per serving: 210 Calories

Fat per serving: 3.4g

Nutritional Info Per Serving: 210 Calories, 3.4g Fat (2.9 Saturated), 581 mg Sodium, 31g Carbs, 13g Fiber, 4g Sugar, 13g Protein

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow split peas, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Add the lentils, salt, and 3 cups of water to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.
  2. When your lentils are close to done, heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add a couple cumin seeds to test out the heat of the oil. If they pop, the oil is ready to go! Add all of your cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let cook for 10-15 seconds (until the seeds pop). Then add your coriander, turmeric, cayenne, onion, tomato, and garlic, stir for 30 seconds, and turn the heat down to medium low. Let it cook until the onions become translucent and the tomatoes break down.
  3. Add the onion/tomato/spice mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Top with cilantro and serve!

Notes

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

https://www.pickyeaterblog.com/simple-slow-cooker-yellow-dal/

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32 responses to “Simple Slow-Cooker Yellow Dal”

    • Thanks Heather! I’m not sure the salsa would work in this — since typical prepared salsas have flavors like lime juice/etc. which wouldn’t work well with the Indian spices in this dal. Hope that helps!

  1. Hey, thanks for this recipe. I was wondering if we can just add onions, tomatoes, and other spices in the slow cooker itself beforehand. I sometimes do that in pressure cooker and it comes out nice.

    • Hi Srikant! Yes you can but I wouldn’t recommend it because the onions won’t caramelize like they do in a pot, and you won’t be able to “fry” the spices to make them “pop” in the slow cooker so the flavor will probably be different. Hope that helps!

  2. HI Anjali!

    This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you for sharing. My question is whether we need to soak the dal in water or can we just use it directly?

    • No problem! And nope! You don’t have to soak the dal before cooking it – one of the benefits of the slow cooker 🙂 But if you do soak the dal, it will cook faster. Hope that helps!

    • Yes! You can absolutely make a double batch of this recipe – it works great and I do it all the time. Hope that helps!

      • Thanks, I will definitely let you know as I have my slow cooker going now! I do have one more question – I do not have black mustard seed & a few postings have told me that I can substitute with horseradish? What do you think about that? Or do you have any other suggestions for a substitution?
        Thanks!

        • Hi Trina! I’m not sure how horseradish would taste in the place of black mustard seeds — I’d be hesitant to try that because horseradish has a very distinct flavor. Do you have yellow mustard seeds (or any other color mustard seeds?) because that would be a good replacement. Otherwise I’d just leave it out and increase the garlic/cumin seed slightly – like 1-2 more cloves garlic and 1/4 tsp more cumin seeds. Hope that helps!

  3. I was wondering what size slow cooker you used for this recipe, and just how large each serving is?

    I’m looking to cultivate a little stable of slow cooker dal recipes, and would prefer to make around seven servings in a single go (I only have one day a week to devote to food prep/cooking) so I could easily double this recipe – if it’d fit in my three and a half quart slow cooker.

    • Hi Karl! My slow cooker is a 6 quart cooker, so it actually has a lot more capacity if I wanted to make a double batch of this dal. Each serving for this recipe is about 1.5-2 cups. You can definitely double this recipe – I do that all the time and I end up freezing half of it to eat later in the week or a few weeks out! Hope that helps!

  4. Hi,

    Do you think if I cooked this on Medium heat I could leave it for 8-9 hours? I want to cook the lentils while I am at work but dont want them to burn for being in the cooker for too long on high

    • Hi Sara! If you’re going to be away for 8-9 hours I’d recommend cooking the lentils on low in the slow cooker. On low they’ll be done in about 8-10 hours, on high about 4-5 hours. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Anjali,

    We are adopting a little one from India – we have actually chosen Anjali as her first name 🙂 – and I am trying to learn how to cook more Indian food. What veggies would you saute with this dish and can you please share which spices? Also, I have not cooked lentils in my slow cooker yet – do I need to soak them ahead of time? Or will 8-10 hours on low in a slow cooker cook dry lentils enough? I’m excited to try this recipe!

    Thank you!

    • Hi Jen! Oh wow that’s amazing that you’re adopting! So cool that you chose Anjali for your daughter’s name 🙂 For this dal, I’d make either this vegetable dish, this cabbage saute, or this “sabji“. The spices are included in the recipe! Oh and for the slow cooker – you don’t need to soak the lentils before hand. 8-10 hours in the slow cooker will be enough! I can’t wait for you to try this recipe, I’m sure you will love it! Keep me posted on how it goes and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any other questions for cooking Indian food!

    • Hi! Yes that should be fine — mung bean split peas may not become as creamy/mushy as yellow split peas (and you will probably have to adjust how much water you use to cook them in) but they will still taste great in this recipe!

  6. The only recepie you’ll need for making Mung Dal! I make this recepie 4x per batch 🙂 I am currently on a protien only diet and it gets eaten fast. A small extra I add on is some really finely chopped cilantro and green chilli into the frying pan for color and spice and also I put a lot of Makhan (whiped butter) in the end when the dish is fully ready. It really gives it that smooth creamy texture and taste and it takes the dal to whole new level of goodness!
    I find it easier using italian ripe tomatoe paste instead of fresh tomatoes, but according to my east indian friends I should be using fresh tomatoes only. Not sure if I can taste any difference yet as I started eating Indian food only 4 months ago but to me it tastes just as great. Any thouths on this Angali?
    Thank you for thr great recepie!!

    • So glad you like this recipe!! Adding in cilantro and green chili is great! Go easy on the whipped butter though since that will add a lot of fat & calories to the dish! Try sticking to 1 tsp per bowl 🙂 Personally, I like the taste of the fresh tomatoes in the dish vs. tomato paste (the tomato paste is more concentrated and acidic than fresh tomatoes) – but you can really use either one to make this recipe! Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  7. Oh my goodness this is so delicious! Glad I made a double batch as there might not of been any left for the family getting home :)))

    • Yay!! So glad you loved this recipe as much as we do! This is a staple in our house (I often make a double batch and freeze half of it for a rainy day! 🙂 )

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