Kalyn's Kitchen

Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake

I swooned over this Bengali Red Dal Curry when my nephew Jake brought some to my house for me to try! 

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Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake found on KalynsKitchen.com

I’ve written on this blog more than once about my feelings of intimidation about making authentic Indian food, and confessed that I sometimes use things like Pataks Biryani Paste when I get that Indian food craving. This fear of Indian cooking is still alive somewhere in my cooking psyche, but when my 20-something nephew Jake raved about a dal recipe he’d made, and then showed up at my house with this fantastic dish, I realized I need to get over it.

Jake is a good cook, an almost-vegetarian, and a fan of Indian food, and he found this recipe online and pretty much followed it exactly except for removing the dried red chiles at the end. The recipe was posted by Jonathan Kandell, but I don’t know if he created the recipe or was just reposting it. Maybe he’ll google his name sometime and find it here. However the recipe came about, it was an incredibly flavorful blend of interesting tastes. If there are readers who are more knowledgeable about this type of food than I am, please chime in about the five spice mixture used here, something I’m learning about for the first time.

Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake found on KalynsKitchen.com

More Recipes with Lentils from Kalyn

Sausage and Lentils with Fried Sage
Curried Rice and Red Lentils

Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake found on KalynsKitchen.com

Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake

Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

My nephew Jake brought this Bengali Red Dal Curry to my house for me to try, and it was so delicious!


  • 1 1/2 C dried red lentils
  • 3 1/2 C water
  • 6 Serrano chiles (or 3 Jalepeno chiles) either whole or sliced in quarters
  • 1/4 t turmeric, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 4 T + 2 T vegetable oil (or use ghee if you prefer)
  • 1 C minced onions
  • 1 C chopped tomatoes
  • 1 T grated fresh ginger
  • 1 T Panch Phoron spice mix
  • 4 dried small red chilies
  • 1 T crushed garlic


  1. There are three basic steps to this recipe: cooking the lentils in water, making a tomato/onion/ginger mush, and making a spiced oil.
  2. Rinse lentils well, add water, Serrano chilies, turmeric and salt.
  3. Bring carefully to boil and cook over low to medium heat, partially covered, for 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and cook another 10 minutes.
  5. Adjust salt.
  6. While lentils are cooking, cook onions in a frying pan in the oil until they are golden brown (approximately 10 minutes), stirring constantly.
  7. Add tomatoes and ginger and continue cooking until the tomatoes decompose into a delicious and fragrant mush (approximately 8 minutes.)
  8. Stir constantly so that tomato mixture doesn’t stick.
  9. Turn heat to low if necessary.
  10. Scrape out this mush into the lentils and stir it in. Let lentils sit while you make the spiced oil.
  11. Do a quick rinse of the frying pan, without soap, and dry thoroughly.
  12. Add the remaining 2T oil and heat over medium high heat.
  13. When oil is hot add Panch Phoron (affiliate link) mix and heat until the seeds begin to pop, about 15 seconds.
  14. Add red chilies and fry for another 15 seconds, until they turn a little darker.
  15. Turn off heat and add the crushed garlic and let sizzle for about 30 seconds.
  16. Stir this mixture into the lentil/tomato mixture and serve with rice. Adjust salt.


Notes about the Key spice used in this recipe:This recipe cannot be authentic without Panch Phoron (affiliate link) spice Mix, also known as Five Spice – do not substitute Chinese Five Spice! Mixture consists of equal proportions of whole cumin, fenugreek, anise, mustard, and kalunji (“Indian black onion” seed). You will need to go to an Indian Store to get the last ingredient if you make your own. It is not related to the onion.

Note from Kalyn added 2-26-07 – Jonathan Kandell spelled the spice mixture Panch Phanon, but after reading about this Bengali Five Spice Mixture online, I have changed the spelling, since it seemed to be spelled with an *r* everywhere I saw it. Thanks to Sandeepa for the tip to look up Panch Phoron on Wikipedia. Apparently you can buy the Panch Phoron already mixed or you can mix your own.

Jake adds this note to the recipe: Dried small red chilies have a burnt taste and should be taken out of the final dish. This would be great served with rice, but when Jake brought it to my house, we just ate a bowl of it alone. I had eaten nearly half of mine with enthusiasm before I had the presence of mind to try to take a few photos so I could share it here.

Recipe posted online here by Jonathan Kandell, shared with Kalyn by her nephew Jake. Reposted with only slight editorial changes to the recipe by Kalyn.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 127Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 709mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 5gSugar: 4gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Bengali Red Dal Curry is a good side dish for any low-glycemic diet, including any phase the original South Beach Diet, although limit serving size for phase one. Lentils (Dal) are too high in carbs for a low-carb diet.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Side Dishes to find more recipes like this one! Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake found on KalynsKitchen.com

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    28 Comments on “Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake”

  1. Debs, fun seeing how yours turned out. Glad you liked it.

  2. I just had this for dinner, and it was delicious. Mine turned out less mushy than yours looks, but still great. I’m including a pic on my post at one weigh or another. (http://one-weigh-or-another.com/)

  3. Creative Cook, will check it out on your blog.

    Melting Wok, I added some links to more information about the Bengali Five Spice Mix.

    Ilva, if I find it here I will send you some!

  4. It’s the second time I come back here to this post and it’s the second time I get really annoyed! I want that 5 spice mix toooooo, it looks and sounds like a perfect dish for me… Why oh why aren’t there any Indian shops that I know of here??

  5. There’s chinese five spice and Indian 5 spice, perhaps its the garam masala that uses 5 kinds of spice mixed. Sometimes, there’s even 7/8/9 spice such as : adding nutmegs, mace, coriander to the basic garam masala spice mix as nabeela mentioned. oo…I love dal of any kind, yummy ! Thx for sharing, Kalyn 🙂

  6. Nice to see this recipe posted. Actually I subscribe to your feed, which is great since I get all your posts, but makes me lazy to actually visit and post a comment. I use panch phoron a lot, there are some recipes on my blog about this. Love this dal, my kids have this all the time.

  7. Asha, glad you like the recipe. I thought this was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted, no kidding.

    Sandeepa, thanks for the tip about Wikipedia. Cool! I’ll look there for sure and add in a link. Also I notice you and Asha are both spelling the second word differently than the source I got it from, and I bet you guys are right.

    Willa, interesting. I haven’t heard of growing your own lentils. Apparently Jake found the black onion in Salt Lake, but there are a few good Indian grocery stores here.

    a yunus, it sure seemed authentic to me, but what do I know? But delicious for sure.

  8. Wow Kalyn!

    Exploring Indian food….good Idea!

    I dunno much about bengali food…but seeing the ingredients and the list, hope it is authentic..! i never knew that we have people in west to taste such hot n spicy dishes!!

    Happy exploring!!

  9. I’ll have to try this one, and pass it along to my sisters. I have a jar full of red lentils in the kitchen, and I ordered red lentil seeds from Victory Seed Company so I can try growing them this summer. Apparently it’s a relative of vetch.
    Finding the Indian Black onion spice may be difficult out here in the sticks, though!


  10. Also saw a comment on the Five Spice mix or “Panch Puran”. You are right about it Kalyn, thats a very popular spice for the Bengalis and there is even an article on Wiki on it

  11. Hi kalyn
    So glad to see one of my fav dishes here. This Dal is a staple at our house and its my comfort food of all times

  12. Gorgeous color,I love it.
    You are right about Chinese five spice Vs Panch Phoron!!LOL!!
    Great recipe,thanks Kalyn and thank you Jake!

  13. Tanna and Lydia, Hooray for Jake. This was so amazingly delicious.

    Double hooray for Katerina. She is so smart. The trick of opening the link in a new window worked. This is going to help me on a lot of blogs where I haven’t been able to leave comments. If anyone is having that problem where the comment window doesn’t fully open and the “maximize” button doesn’t work, just use her trick.

  14. Thats weird. It’s because of the pop up? I bet it would be fixed if Iyou switched to use the non pop-up style.

    Since it does sound like a problem on your side, maybe try clearing your cookies? (Under internet options…)

    Another easy option is to right click on the “Comments” link and choose “Open in a new WindowTab”. That *should* work.

    Good luck.

  15. Hooray for Jake for delving into Indian cooking! I, too, am occasionally intimidated, but there are so many good Indian cookbooks and blogs out there with recipes. Most of the difficulty is in mixing the spices, not in the methods of cooking. Will look forward to seeing more Indian cooking from your kitchen!

  16. Not seen this 5 spice before. I always love lentils and dal. Sounds divine.

  17. Nabeela, thanks for the comment. I hadn’t ever heard of a dish called both Dal and Curry either, but since it’s not my recipe,and that’s the name he gave it, I just went with it.

  18. Hi Kalyn,
    I’m mostly a lurker on your site…(as you probably know from the reader survey you took 🙂 )…anyways…dal is not a type of curry so we don’t say xyz dal curry, we say we made xyz dal. As for the five spice powder, this is the first I’ve heard of it….we do use garam masala a lot( a mixture of powdered cumin, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and black pepper) but as for the five spice powder you mentioned I haven’t heard of it..sorry

  19. Hi Katerina,
    Your blog is one of the ones I can’t leave comments on any more since I switched to new Blogger, so I hope you’ll see this! For some reason, on a small percentage of Blogger blogs (including my family blog) the comment window won’t open up. I wish I knew how to fix it. Anybody know?

  20. This looks great, I love dahl. It is one of my favorites and I have only made it a handful of times. I have a list of Indian spices to pick up when I see them and I will have to add these to the list.