Creamy Urad Dal Curry

Urad dal also known as black lentil or black gram is a cheap highly nutritious lentil. Lentils are generally are high in protein and fiber and contain many vitamins and minerals.

Lentils are also very versatile, I often make curries and soups with them. Here I have made a very healthy creamy curry (without any cream!). You can serve this curry with rice, naan bread, pittas or chapatis. In addition you can even add it to cous cous or quinoa, which I have done in the past for a lighter dinner.

Due to the way lentils and pulses are harvested it is very important to look out for any foreign particles such as soil or stones before cooking. There’s nothing more frustrating than biting on a stone as you’re enjoying a curry.

My toddler loves this curry as I make it creamy and slightly mushy so its great for her to dip naan or chapati into. The lentils will need to be cooked first. Using a pressure cooker will be the quickest way, simply cook until they are soft and slightly mushy. The mushy texture helps to thicken the sauce in the curry thus making it creamy without the addition of any cream.

Alternatively you could soak for 6-8 hours and then simmer for an hour or so on a medium heat to reach the desired consistency. The other option is to boil without prior soaking, this option however will take at least 2 hours. I made enough curry for two dinners using the quantities below for myself, my toddler and my husband.

Yield: 6

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes (plus lentil cooking time)


  • 180g whole urad dal, soaked 6-8 hours, drained and rinsed
  • 250ml chopped or diced tomatoes in a can (no salt added), blitz with a handheld blender to form a smooth sauce
  • 7 garlic cloves (2 cloves chopped finely and 5 cloves grated or crushed)
  • 1/2 green bird’s eye chilli, very finely chopped
  • 5 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2″ (2 tbsp) fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 3 small dried curry leaves
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp haldi (turmeric) powder
  • 1/8 tsp red chilli powder


  1. In a large pan add the soaked and rinsed lentils, the finely chopped garlic cloves and 1 tbsp of grated ginger. Add enough hot water to cover the lentils (more hot water may need to be added during the cooking time if the pan is drying out).
  2. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and partially cover with a lid for 1 hour or so until the lentils are soft, cooked and can easily be mashed with the back of a spoon. Do not drain and set the pan aside.
  3. In a bowl add the remaining ingredients except the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and oil. Mix well so all the ingredients are mixed well into the tomato sauce.
  4. Take another medium to large sized pan add the oil and set on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
  5. Allow for the cumin and mustard seeds to sizzle and start to pop. Then add in the tomato sauce and mix well. Lower the heat and let the sauce cook for about 10 minutes on the lowest heat, this will allow for all the spices to cook and mix well in the tomato sauce.
  6. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. The oil should start to rise to the surface of the tomato sauce. Then add the lentils and any remaining water in the pan to the tomato sauce pan. Mix well and allow to simmer on a low heat for a further 5-10 minutes.
  7. Take off the heat and with the back of a large spoon gently mash the lentils to the desired consistency. You will begin to see the curry becoming more creamy. If the curry is dry add more hot water to reach the desired consistency.
  8. Serve with your choice of sides.


Once cooled you can refrigerate for up to 48 hours and reheat in the microwave or stove.

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