Mamta's Kitchen - A Family Cookbook

Urad Dal (Split Black Gram) - Skin On

Urad Dal Chilka

Reeta Kumar

Indian Main Vegetarian

This is popular dal in Northern India. If you eat lentils regularly, I would recommend buying a pressure cooker. It makes cooking them much quicker and easier.

It is often cooked mixed with chana dal or methi leaves or even meat, if you are a meat eater.

The water required and cooking times given here are average for a pressure cooker, but do remember that there are many variants in cooking. For example, quality of the lentil, softness of water, whether the dal was soaked beforehand (soaked dals take a little less time to cook), the intensity of heat and the efficiency of your pressure cooker. It will get easier as you cook more dals. Remember that if undercooked, you can cook a dal some more but you can't do much with an overcooked dal. It does not taste bad if overcooked, only it doesn't look so good!

Serves 4

Edited November 2023


  • 1 cup urad dal chilka (split black gram dal with skin )
  • 3 cups water (use more if not using pressure cooker)
  • Salt to taste (1-1 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/2tsp. turmeric powder
  • Adding 2 tbsp. dry methi leaves or 'kasoori methi' makes the dal extra special
  • For basic tarka or tempering:
  • 2-3 tbsp. ghee or sunflower or olive oil. Ghee tastes better but oil is healthier.
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • A large pinch of asafoetida or hing powder
  • 2-3 whole red chillies broken up
  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder
  • Optional for tarka
  • 1 medium sized onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and shredded
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped up


  1. Wash the dal well and soak in water for half an hour. Soaking for longer will take the skin off the dal and is not required.
  2. Drain this water off before cooking.
  3. Cooking in a Pressure Cooker:
  4. Place the dal, water, salt and turmeric in the pressure cooker and bring to boil, until you hear a hissing sound. Cook under full pressure for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Allow pressure cooker to cool before opening. Open the lid and check water. If too thick, add a little boiling water, until it reaches the consistency you desire.
  6. Cooking without a pressure cooker:
  7. Place the dal, 5-6 cups water, salt and turmeric in a pan and bring to boil. Now simmer briskly until tender. You may need to add more water, if the dal begins to look too thick and dry. This may take up to 30 minutes or so.
  8. Dals, when ready, should be soft but not mashed and of a custard like consistency.
  9. Place in a serving bowl.
  10. Basic tarka or tempering:
  11. Heat ghee or oil in a tarka ladle (can be bought from an Indian store) or a small pan.
  12. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida powder and let the seeds start to splutter.
  13. Add whole chillies and chillies powder, stir quickly with a spoon, add to the cooked dal, putting the ladle into the dal.
  14. Cover with a lid immediately. This will infuse the smokey flavours into the dal, as well as stop the dal from splashing out during tempering. A variation of tarka or tempering:
  15. Tarka with onions
  16. After spluttering the cumin seeds, add asafoetida powder, whole chillies and then chopped onion, ginger and garlic. Fry until onions are beginning to turn golden brown. Add chilli powder. Add tomatoes and cooked until soft. You can omit tomatoes.
  17. Now add to the dal.
  18. Serve hot with Chapatti or Roti or Phulka 1, Indian Flat Bread and Rice, How To Boil/Cook It perfectly?.
  19. Also see How To Recognize & Cook A Few Common Indian Dals (Lentil)-A Collection of Dal Recipes .


  • Overcooked or leftover dal can be added to roti or chapatti flour when making a dough. This makes delicious roti and paratha.
  • The amount of dal required per person depends on whether you are serving the dal with roti or with rice. Rice requires more dal.
  • You can add chopped coriander leaves to all dals as a garnish.
This recipe was originally created Dec 31, 2007 and last updated May 8, 2024

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