Punjabi Shahi Daal

Cook Eat WorldAsianPunjabi Shahi Daal
By Published On: July 30th, 2021

This amazing and simple Punjabi style daal is absolutely packed with flavour and fragrance. Creamy, nutty and spicy too! Learn how the humble lentil can be so delicious.

Lentils cooked in spices to make a Punjabi Shahi Daal

With most of my Indian meals I like to serve a couple of legume or bean dishes. They’re hearty, healthy and tasty too. Given that a vast portion of the population in India are vegetarian or vegan, it means there is a cornucopia of amazing recipes to choose from. One such delight is this simple Shahi Daal.

The Punjab region in the North of India offers a decadent and creamy daal that I make a lot. It’s great on its own and I’ll often just have it over rice or roti breads, but more often as part of a larger feast. There’s nothing more I love than small portions of lots of curries, thali style. This shahi daal recipe is perfect for such an occasion as it’s pretty fail-safe, quick, and easy.

Stuff you'll need

There’s a full recipe below, but here are some of the key flavours you’ll be calling upon for this daal.

  • Lentils - Urad dal is traditional, but I like to use Masoor Daal or Moong Daal too (indeed, the dish in the photographs used Moong Dal - you’ll get similar results with either.
  • Spices - There’s a combination of the usual suspects; cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek, mustard, chilli and more.
  • The tadka - This unique step is a tempering style method, where fresh ingredients are flash fried in ghee at the end and poured into the cooked daal.
  • Ghee - Being a North Indian dish, ghee (clarified butter) is popular, adding its unique nuttiness and a rich, creamy texture. If you’re looking for a healthier option, use vegetable oil instead.
Shahi Daal Spice Powder

Ready in a few simple steps

This dish is quick and easy and very straightforward. Here’s how…

  1. Make the spice powder - Making and grinding you own spice mix gives the rich, authentic flavour.
  2. Cook the daal - simmer the lentils with the spice powder until they’re nice and smooth
  3. Fry the tadka ingredients
  4. Mix the two together - that’s it!

Tips, Tricks, Subs

As I mentioned above, changing the daal type is fine - Masoor, Urad, Toor and Moong all work well. For the tadka, I sometimes stir in cooked spinach, cooked fresh or frozen Methi (fenugreek leaves). On occasion I’ll also stir in a little coconut cream for a richer, creamier version.

Lentils cooked in spices to make a Punjabi Shahi Daal

What to serve with Shahi Daal

If I’m serving a larger feast, I’ll usually do some kind of meat on skewers or a Northern Style meat curry and maybe a couple of vegetable offerings. Here are some of my favourites

How to make Punjabi Shahi Daal

Lentils cooked in spices to make a Punjabi Shahi Daal

Punjabi Shahi Daal

Rate this recipe

5 from 2 votes
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Recipe by Lee
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 362


For the spice powder

For the daal

  • cups moong daal (or urad, massor or toor daal - dried)
  • 5 cups water

For the tadka

  • 2 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
  • 10 curry leaves (fresh)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ cup onion (finely diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 tsp ginger (minced)
  • 1 tomato (diced)
  • 2 small hot chillies (finely sliced)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro (coriander)(chopped)
  • 1 lime (cut into wedges)


Making the spice powder

  • Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns to a dry frying pan - toast for 1-2 minutes until they start to dance around the pan. Remove and add to a pestle & mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the chilli powder, turmeric and salt and set aside.

Cooking the daal

  • Add the daal and spice powder to a pan and cover with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook gently (covered) for 30 minutes (stirring regularly) until the daal is tender and smooth. Remove from the heat.
  • NOTE: Different daal absorb water differently, so you may need to adjust your water accordingly. My recipe follows a 1:4 ratio, but you may need to either add a little more water or reduce for a while to get the right consistency. You want a thickish, creamy consistency (like a loose porridge) when cooked.
    If the daal is too thick, add more water and if it's too thin, reduce until thicker. Towards the end of cooking it may stick to the bottom of the pan so keep a keen eye on it.

Making the tadka

  • Heat the ghee in a pan until hot then add the curry leaves and cumin seeds, quickly followed by the garlic and ginger. Sizzle briefly before adding the onion and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato and sliced chillies and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and tip all the contents into the daal and stir well. Sprinkle over the cilantro and serve with lime wedges.
  • Serve hot over rice with lime wedges, accompanied by Indian breads or alongside other Indian dishes as part of a larger feast.


Calories: 362kcal (18%) | Carbohydrates: 52g (17%) | Protein: 20g (40%) | Fat: 9g (14%) | Saturated Fat: 5g (31%) | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 19mg (6%) | Sodium: 108mg (5%) | Potassium: 867mg (25%) | Fiber: 25g (104%) | Sugar: 4g (4%) | Vitamin A: 563IU (11%) | Vitamin C: 67mg (81%) | Calcium: 94mg (9%) | Iron: 7mg (39%)
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Lentils cooked in spices to make a Punjabi Shahi Daal

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