Dal might be one of Indian cuisine’s simplest dishes, but it is also by far one of the most versatile and fragrant. And for that reason, it is loved not just across India, but all over the world. The staple dish is usually made with dried split pulses or lentils and a variety of spices, including turmeric and coriander, but the ingredients vary depending on the type of dal you’re cooking. Find out more about dal below, including its benefits, how to make it, and seven delicious vegan recipes to serve it with.

jump to the recipes

What is dal?

The word “dal” actually refers to the ingredients, like split pulses or lentils, but it is usually used to refer to the dish as a whole. The Times of India notes that to many people in India, “dal is the ultimate comfort food.” The dish can be traced all the way back to 303 BC and has been a much-loved staple across the country ever since.

The love for dal is widespread across India, but recipes vary from region to region. Dal Makhani, for example, originates from North India. The dish is made with black lentils and kidney beans and tends to be cooked with butter and cream. Sambhar, however, hails from South India and is typically made with pigeon peas, tomatoes, and other vegetables, like carrots and potatoes.


Is dal good for you?

Because it includes nutrient-dense whole foods, like lentils and vegetables, dal is a healthy dish. It’s high in protein, rich in fiber, and packed with essential nutrients, like iron, potassium, and B vitamins. Plus, because virtually all of the ingredients are plant-based, it’s easy to make vegan dal (even if you prefer creamier versions like Dal Makhani, you can replace the butter and cream with plant-based alternatives).

RELATED: Vegan Indian Food: From Samosas to Daal, Here’s Everything You Need to Eat

Find our top three dal vegan dal recipes below, and after that, we’ve included seven delicious dishes to serve it with. While dal is a super tasty meal on its own, it arguably really shines when it’s paired with equally delicious dishes and sides, like bhajis, cauliflower, and plenty of bread.

How to make dal: 3 delicious vegan-friendly recipes

Want to learn how to make this versatile dish? Start here.

Vegnews.Dal1Vegan Richa

1 Vegan Split Pea Dal With Ginger and Coconut

This savory dal, which is made with tasty whole foods like split chickpeas, turmeric, coconut flakes, raw cashews, and red chilis, comes from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen cookbook. It’s aromatic, bursting with flavor, and best served with a generous helping of rice or flatbread.
Get the recipe

VegNews.VinaSevVina Patel

2 Vegan Indian Surti Sev Khamani

Surti Sev Khamani is made with ultra-flavorful crushed chana dal, which consists of fresh ginger, green chillis, garlic, and split chickpeas, and crunchy chickpea noodles. Taken from the From Gujarat with Love: 100 Authentic Indian Recipes cookbook, the dish is a real show-stopper, thanks to the bright red pops of juicy pomegranate it’s served with, as well as the green cilantro and yellow noodles.
Get the recipe

VegNews.DalVina Patel

3 Vegan Northern Indian Gujarati Dal With Pickle Masala

Another delicious recipe from the From Gujarat with Love: 100 Authentic Indian Recipes cookbook, this dal is inspired by North India, and is traditionally served at meaningful events, like weddings and baby showers. Made with pigeon peas, the flavorful dish is the perfect mix of sweet, tangy, and spicy.
Get the recipe

7 delicious recipes to serve with dal

Now that you know how to make it, here are a variety of side dishes to make with your dal.

VegNews.OnionBhajisDan Jones

1 Vegan Carrot and Onion Bhajis

These savory, crispy bhajis, which are often served as appetizers or snacks in Indian cuisine, are flavorful and aromatic, thanks to the mix of spices like cumin seeds, garam masala, and chili powder. There’s no doubt that the crispy fritters—taken from the 15 Minute Vegan on a Budget cookbook—would complement the rich and comforting taste of dal beautifully.
Get the recipe

VegNews.IndianSpicedCauliflower2.VeganRichaVegan Richa

2 Zesty Roasted Cauliflower With Safflower and Radishes

With its delicious complementary contrasting flavors and textures, this zesty roasted cauliflower with safflower and radishes from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen cookbook would make the perfect accompaniment to dal. Plus, it looks pretty stunning on the plate, too.
Get the recipe


3 Vegan Indian-Style Tofu Tikka Skewers

Serve this North Indian Tikkā with a flavor-packed, North Indian-style dal. The tofu, onion, and bell peppers on the skewers would provide a super tasty contrast in texture to the creamy consistency of the dal.
Get the recipe

VegNews.KadaiTofuNeelam Pokhrel

4 Indian Tofu With Garlicky Tomato Gravy

This recipe from Veganbell’s Indian Vegan Cookbook is another great companion for dal. Both dishes feature a rich array of Indian spices and flavors—they’re also vibrant, colorful, packed with plant protein, and, together, would offer a balance of textures that would make for a satisfying, filling, and ultra-tasty meal.
Get the recipe


5 Vegan Frying Pan Samosa Pie With Potatoes and Cauliflower

For a hearty, satisfying midweek meal, pair this flaky pastry-topped potato, cauliflower, and green pea samosa pie from the BOSH! On a Budget cookbook with a generous helping of dal on the side. Together, they create a balanced, nourishing meal that is bursting with delicious Indian flavors.
Get the recipe

VegNews.MalaiKoftaNeelam Pokhrel

6 Vegan Malai Kofta 

From Veganbell’s Indian Vegan Cookbook, this vegan malai kofta dish (which is tofu-potato meatballs in a rich tomato-onion gravy) provides a protein-rich, creamy main (thanks to the tofu and cashews) to a vibrant, nutritious, and appetizing dal side dish, whichever variety of the dish you choose.
Get the recipe


7 Vegan Stovetop Wheat Pita Bread

Sometimes, you just can’t go wrong with the simple and satisfying mix of bread and dal. This tasty pillowy pita bread is arguably the perfect vessel to enjoy a creamy lunchtime dal recipe. For added sustenance, serve with a small portion of rice on the side, too.
Get the recipe

For more on cooking, read:

Here at VegNews, we live and breathe the vegan lifestyle, and only recommend products we feel make our lives amazing. Occasionally, articles may include shopping links where we might earn a small commission. In no way does this effect the editorial integrity of VegNews.

Share this

The Great Big VegNews Birthday Celebration is HERE! Get a FREE Vegan Jamaican Summer Recipe Book.