Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal

// Enjoy the flavors of Punjab with this Maa Ki Dal recipe—creamy, comforting, and perfect with roti or rice. Simple and delicious!



Maa Ki Dal, also known as Kali Dal or Black Lentils, is a very popular and delicious North Indian dish that hails from the vibrant state of Punjab, India.

Made using whole black gram (urad dal), onion, garlic, tomato, and a blend of essential aromatic spices, this creamy, comforting dal is a staple in many Indian households. It pairs wonderfully with rice, paratha, roti, or naan.

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Dessert Delights: Savory Desserts

Incorporate savory ingredients like miso, pinch of salt, or saffron into desserts for a unique and memorable finish to your meal.

Maa Ki Dal served in a white bowl garnished with fresh herbs and onion rings, accompanied by paratha and lemon slices on a decorative silver tray.

About Maa Ki Dal Recipe

Maa Ki Dal or Maah Ki Dal is an exquisite and rich lentil curry that is a hearty and flavorful dish prepared with urad dal, chana dal, and an onion-tomato masala. It is a rich and aromatic side dish that brings warmth and comfort to any meal.

Known for its rich flavors and velvety texture, Maa Ki Dal makes a comforting weeknight or weekend meal. Another great thing about this recipe is that not only as a weeknight dinner, this Dal recipe can also be served on special occasions.

Maa Ki Dal, also known as Kali Dal or Black Gram Dal, is a dish soaked in Indian tradition. Some say the name of this recipe “Maa Ki Dal” translates to “Mother’s Lentils,” while others say it is Maah Ki Dal (“month’s dal”). I am not sure why it is called Maa Ki Dal, but one thing I am sure of is that it has a deep connection with and affection in Indian cuisine.

Traditionally, this dal is slowly cooked in a clay pot which brings out the earthy flavors of the dal. This way, cooking dal takes 2-3 hours. If you have time, you can surely cook your dal in a pot. But if you are in a hurry, then feel free to use a stovetop pressure cooker like I did. This dal can also be cooked in an Instant Pot. I have shared Instant Pot cooking instructions on this page.

Just like any other Indian dal or curry recipe, this Maa Ki Dal recipe is also made in many different ways. Some like to use only whole urad dal (whole black lentils), while others combine it with some chana dal (split yellow chickpeas) or kidney beans (rajma).

I made this dal recipe using a combination of whole black lentils and split yellow chickpeas, and this version is also called ‘Maa Choliyan Di Dal’. The combination of these two dals gives this Maah Ki Dal a beautiful texture and taste.

The beauty of this traditional Maa Ki Dal lies in simmering the dal with spices. When the boiled dal is simmered with onion-tomato masala, the flavors blend so beautifully and make it irresistible.

For a wholesome and comforting meal, serve this delicious dal with your favorite Indian flatbread or rice.

Close-up of Maa Ki Dal in a traditional Indian serving bowl, topped with butter and garnished with cilantro and onion rings, ready to serve.

This Maa Ki Dal

✓ Is nutritious & nourishing

✓ Is loaded with protein & fiber

✓ Is vegetarian & gluten-free

✓ Has a creamy and velvety texture

✓ Makes an ultimate comforting meal

✓ Is easy to make

✓ Is made using simple ingredients

✓ Goes well with paratha, rice, or roti

✓ Can also be made only with black lentils

✓ Has the authentic flavors

Ingredients

You will need some basic and easily available ingredients for making this dal. These ingredients are staples in an Indian kitchen and can easily be found at any Asian grocery store.

Here is what you will need:

  • Dals (lentils): They are the main ingredient of this lentil dish. I have used a combination of whole black gram and split yellow chickpeas. But you can surely make this recipe using whole black lentils. To make it with only black lentils, simply replace the yellow lentils with the same amount of whole black gram.

  • Onions: You will need two onions to make onion tomato tempering, and also to add them to the dals while cooking.

  • Ghee: To make it authentic, I have cooked this dal in ghee, but you can also use butter to make this dal. You can also use neutral oil if you want to make a vegan version of this dal.

  • Ginger garlic: I have used chopped ginger and chopped garlic in my tempering to give it strong flavors just like you get at ‘Dhabas’ (roadside eateries). But you can also use ginger garlic paste here.

  • Spices: You will need cumin seeds, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, and salt to taste.

  • Other ingredients: You will also need green chilies to add some heat and chopped cilantro for added freshness.

Maa Ki Dal served elegantly in a silver bowl with coriander garnish, alongside charred roti and a rustic metal grill background.

How to Make Maa Ki Dal

Making Maa Ki Dal at home is very easy. Here is how to make this comforting lentil dish in easy and simple steps:

  • Rinse whole black gram (urad dal) and chana dal 3-4 times under running water, and soak them for about 4 hours in water. You can also soak them overnight. After soaking, drain the water and rinse again.

  • Transfer the soaked lentils to a pressure cooker. Then add water, salt, turmeric powder, and ghee. Pressure cook for 5 whistles or until they are soft and tender. You can also cook them in a stovetop pan, but keep in mind that cooking might take up to 80-90 minutes.

  • To make the tempering, in a separate pan, heat ghee, oil, or butter. Then add cumin seeds, and once they start to crackle, sauté finely chopped ginger and garlic until golden. Then add sliced onions and green chilies and cook them until the onions turn golden. Next, add the spices and sauté them for a few seconds, then add a splash of hot water. Cook until the oil separates from the masala, then add chopped tomatoes and cook until they are tender and cooked.

  • Mash the cooked lentils, and add this tempering to the cooked dal. Adjust the consistency by adding hot water, add salt and simmer it for 5-7 minutes. Then add garam masala powder to give it authentic richness and cook for 2 more minutes for the flavor to infuse. Finish off by adding chopped cilantro and your delicious dal is ready to be served.

Serving Suggestions

This dal can be enjoyed in many ways. It can be served as a side dish along with any Indian flatbread such as tandoori roti, whole wheat naan, or plain paratha for a comforting lunch or dinner.

For a hearty variation, it can even be served with bafla bati or paneer pulao. For a complete meal, serve it alongside plain basmati rice, paneer bhuna masala, cucumber raita, and lachha onion.

Variations

Vegan Version of Maa Ki Dal 

To make the vegan Maa ki Dal, ensure that you swap ghee with vegan ghee or any cooking oil of your choice.

No Onion/Garlic Maa Ki Dal

If you are someone who doesn’t like eating onion and garlic, then feel free to skip onion and garlic from this recipe. This dal will still taste delicious.

Meal Ideas with Maa Ki Dal

Here are some meal ideas to serve Maa Ki Dal:

Storage

This is a classic make-ahead dish, so if you have any leftovers, you can store this dal in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 2 days. I personally like the dal after some hours, as it absorbs the flavors.

You can reheat this dal in a microwave or a stovetop pan. The next day, while reheating, I add a pinch of garam masala and chopped cilantro to spruce up the flavors.

Freezing: Maa Ki Dal is freezer friendly. You can freeze it in a Ziploc bag or a freezer-safe container for up to 1 month. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and reheat before serving.

Maa Ki Dal served in a simple white bowl with a side of lemon and sliced onions, perfect for a comforting meal.

Tips for Making the Best Maa Ki Dal

  1. Soaking Dals: It is highly recommended to soak the whole black gram and split chickpeas for at least 4 hours as it reduces the cooking time. You can even soak the dals overnight.

  2. Cooking: After adding tempering, make sure to simmer the dal for some time. Cooking this dal on low heat with spices gives this dal a beautiful flavor and creamy texture.

  3. Ingredients: When making this dal, make sure to use fresh organic lentils. Stale lentils are not good for health and would spoil the taste of this dal.

  4. Adjust Spices: Feel free to adjust the spices according to your taste preference. If you don’t like heat, then feel free to reduce the red chili powder. You can also replace red chili powder with paprika.

  5. Ghee: I personally like to cook this dal in ghee to give it a rich and authentic taste. But if you don’t like ghee, then you can also use oil in this recipe.


Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal (Step-by-step photo instructions)

Soaking the Dal

  1. Add whole black gram (urad dal) and split chickpeas (chana dal) to a large bowl. Rinse 3-4 times thoroughly under running water. Add 3 cups of water to the dal, cover, and let it soak for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-1-1 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal

Boiling the Dal:

  1. After soaking, rinse again with fresh water. In a pressure cooker, add the rinsed dals, enough water, sliced onions, salt, turmeric powder, and ghee.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-1 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal
  3. Close the lid, and pressure cook for 5 whistles on medium heat, or until the dals are completely tender and cooked through. Once the pressure releases naturally, open the cooker and stir the dal to check the consistency. It should be thick and creamy. For a creamier texture, mash some of the cooked dal with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-2-2 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal

Making the Tadka

  1. In a separate pan, heat ghee or oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add chopped garlic and ginger, and sauté until they start to brown.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-1 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal
  3. Add sliced onions and green chilies, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions turn golden brown. Stir in coriander powder, red chili powder, and cumin powder. Mix well and cook for a few seconds until the spices are well roasted and fragrant.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-2 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal
  5. Then add 1/4 cup of hot water, mix, and cook for 2 minutes or until oil starts oozing. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes or until they are tender and cooked through.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-3-3 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal

Make Maa Ki Dal

  1. Add the tadka (tempering) into the cooked dal, mix well to combine all the ingredients. If the dal is too thick, add hot water to adjust the consistency according to your preference. Add salt, to taste and mix well. Let the dal simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  2. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-1 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal
  3. Add garam masala and cook for 2 more minutes. Finish by stirring in chopped cilantro for freshness.
  4. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-2 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal
  5. Garnish Maa Ki Daal with chopped cilantro and a dollop of ghee on top. Serve hot with paratha, roti, or rice.
  6. Image of the recipe cooking step-4-3 for Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal

Recipe Card


Maa ki Dal | Kali Dal | Black Gram Dal [Recipe]

Recipe Image
Enjoy the flavors of Punjab with this Maa Ki Dal recipe—creamy, comforting, and perfect with roti or rice. Simple and delicious!
★★★★★
(Rating: 5 from 6 reviews)

Prep time 🕐 Cook time 🕐 Total time 🕐
40 mins
Category ☶ Cuisine ♨ Serves ☺
Sides Indian 5
Nutrition Info ⊛ Serving size ⊚
292 calories 1

INGREDIENTS

For Boiling Dal
  • 1 cup whole black gram (kaali urad dal)
  • 1/4 cup split chickpeas (chana dal)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
For Tadka (Tempering)
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 meidum-sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • Hot water as required
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
For Serving
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Ghee, for serving

INSTRUCTIONS:

Soaking the Dal
  1. Add whole black gram (urad dal) and split chickpeas (chana dal) to a large bowl. Rinse 3-4 times thoroughly under running water. Add 3 cups of water to the dal, cover, and let it soak for 4 hours or overnight.
Boiling the Dal:
  1. After soaking, rinse again with fresh water. In a pressure cooker, add the rinsed dals, enough water, sliced onions, salt, turmeric powder, and ghee.
  2. Close the lid, and pressure cook for 5 whistles on medium heat, or until the dals are completely tender and cooked through. Once the pressure releases naturally, open the cooker and stir the dal to check the consistency. It should be thick and creamy. For a creamier texture, mash some of the cooked dal with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.
Making the Tadka
  1. In a separate pan, heat ghee or oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Add chopped garlic and ginger, and sauté until they start to brown.
  2. Add sliced onions and green chilies, and cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions turn golden brown. Stir in coriander powder, red chili powder, and cumin powder. Mix well and cook for a few seconds until the spices are well roasted and fragrant.
  3. Then add 1/4 cup of hot water, mix, and cook for 2 minutes or until oil starts oozing. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes or until they are tender and cooked through.
Make Maa Ki Dal
  1. Add the tadka (tempering) into the cooked dal, mix well to combine all the ingredients. If the dal is too thick, add hot water to adjust the consistency according to your preference. Add salt, to taste and mix well. Let the dal simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add garam masala and cook for 2 more minutes. Finish by stirring in chopped cilantro for freshness.
  3. Garnish Maa Ki Daal with chopped cilantro and a dollop of ghee on top. Serve hot with paratha, roti, or rice.

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NOTES:

  1. It is highly recommended to soak the whole black gram and split chickpeas for at least 4 hours as it reduces the cooking time. You can even soak the dals overnight.
  2. After adding tempering, make sure to simmer the dal for some time. Cooking this dal on low heat with spices gives this dal a beautiful flavor and creamy texture.


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