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Puneri Dal (Yellow Lentils Pune-Style)

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“This dal, much prized by Puneri Brahmins in Maharashtra, is sweet and fragrantly spicy, with a slightly sour undertone. Kokum, one of the ingredients, is a local sour fruit which has been dried, and it gives southern Indian food a distinctive flavour. It is often available from Indian groceries, but tamarind paste is an acceptable substitute. Asafoetida is a gum resin prized as a condiment in India. It is also known variously as 'devil's dung' and 'food of the gods'! It has a strong sulphur smell prior to cooking, but thereafter has a pleasant aroma. Asafoetida is a useful antidote for flatulence, and is thus incorporated into many Indian lentil dishes! Goda Masala is a Maharashtrian spice blend. I have posted the recipe for it separately (see Goda Masala).”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Simmer the lentils in 4 cups of water for approximately 20 minutes, until just cooked, but not ‘mushy’.
  2. Keep an eye on the lentils while they cook to ensure the water does not fully evaporate.
  3. Drain off most of the water when the lentils are cooked and add the powder spices, kokum (or tamarind paste), desiccated coconut and salt to taste.
  4. Simmer for a couple of minutes and stir until well mixed, adding more water if necessary to make a moist, but not ‘sloppy’, consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
  6. Heat oil in a small pan, add the mustard seeds, and saute until they pop and crackle.
  7. Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
  8. Stir once, then pour the oil and spices over the lentils.
  9. Mix well, and serve hot garnished with cilantro.
  10. Accompany with rice and a vegetable curry if desired.

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