Dal with Chilli and Garam Masala Mash

This is the way that I make Dal.  This has to be one of my favourite comfort foods. I love it served with a potato mash with chilli and garam masala.  Sometimes I don’t even bother with the potato.

Serves 6


  • For the Dal
    • 25g (1oz) butter
    • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    • 1 small red chilli, seeded and chopped
    • 1 small pinch asafoetida (optional) used mainly for its digestive properties!!
    • 225g (8oz) red lentils (masoor dal)
    • 700ml or more water
    • 2 tsp ground cumin seeds
    • ½ tsp ground turmeric
    • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • For the Chilli and Garam Masala Mash
    • 1kg (2.2lbs) potatoes, scrubbed, in their skins
    • 3-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
    • 50g (2oz) butter
    • 150-300ml (1/4 – ½ pint) boiling milk
    • 1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped (or more if you like)
    • 1-1 ½ tsp garam masala
    • 1-2 tbsp chopped coriander


  1. For the Dal
    1. Melt the butter in a saucepan with the oil, add the onions, garlic, chilli, asafoetida (if using) and a pinch of salt and cook on a low heat until the onions are soft. 
    2. Then add the lentils and stir around for a few seconds and add about ¼ of the water ,simmer slowly until the water has reduced and been absorbed into the lentils, then add some more water, cook again and repeat the process until the lentils are cooked and the water has all been absorbed into the dal. 
    3. Add the cumin to taste, the turmeric, chopped coriander and another pinch of salt if it needs it. 
    4. This can be reheated over a low flame.
  2. For the Chilli and Garam Masala Mash 
    1. Scrub the potatoes in their skins and put into a saucepan, fill up with water and a good pinch of salt. 
    2. Bring up to the boil, after 5 mins of boiling, pour off most of the water, leaving about 3cm of water in the bottom, and continue cooking on a lowish heat now, checking every so often that the water has not evaporated and leaving you with a burnt bottom!!20 mins after the potatoes have gone in to cook, put the whole garlic cloves into the saucepan, they should be cooked by the time the potatoes are.  When they are all cooked, take the potatoes out and peel them with a knife, and mash the potatoes and garlic, then add butter, a little boiling milk, the chilli, garam masala, some salt and chopped coriander .
    3. Check for seasoning, add more milk, or spices as required. 
    4. Serve with the dal, and a bowl of red onion raita, or cucumber raita (page..) and scatter coriander leaves over the top. Chilli bread (page…) is excellent with this, particularly if you are leaving out the mash.

**NOTE Make sure the potatoes are completely mashed before adding the boiling milk, otherwise they will stay lumpy.

**NOTE Garam masala is one of the many Indian spice mixes and you can buy it ready made and there are many different recipes for making it.  This is one that I normally use.  So if you want to make it yourself just keep any leftover in an airtight container.  Whizz up 2 tsp of green cardamon seeds, 1/2 tsp each of cumin seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, nutmeg and a 2cm piece of cinnamon, until nice and fine.