DALMA is a very famous dish from Orissa on India’s East coast. This dal is made with a combination of lentils and vegetables. Popular vegetables used are Taro root, White Sweet Potato, Raw Papaya, Eggplant, Pumpkin, Bitter Gourd, Raw Bananna, Green Beans, White Radish and Carrots. The recipe also calls for a few varieties of dals the main one being Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal), and then a tbsp. or two of the following: Mung Bean (Moong Dal) and Split Chickpeas (Channa Dal) and Orange/Pink Lentils (Masoor Dal).

If all the varieties of dals and vegetables required have you bothered, worry not. Just use an equivalent quantity of one lentil and whatever vegetables you have in your fridge – we actually make it when we want to “clean out the veggie tray”.


Serves 4 to 6 people as a main


  • Wash 1 cup Pigeon Peas till the water runs clear (this is the traditional dhal used with a tbsp. or 2 of the others). I prefer to use a quarter cup of each of the following 4 dals: Toor, Mung, Masoor and Channa dal.  
  • While the dal is soaking*, wash, peel and dice a combination of the vegetables mentioned above – roughly about 3 to 4 cups.
  • Drain the water when ready to cook.
  • Place the lentils in a large deep pot then add 1 litre/4 cups of water, 2 chopped tomatoes, 1 tbs grated ginger, 2 sliced green chillies, 1 tsp sea salt/veggie stock, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp palm sugar (traditionally a lot more jaggery is used).
  • The dal will cook in 20 minutes so add the harder root vegetables along with the dal and then the softer ones in stages, like beans and radish which require just about 10 minutes.  
  • When the dal and vegetables are cooked to your taste, adjust salt and turn off the stove.
  • TADKA – Heat a small pot then add 2 tbsp ghee, 1 tsp Asafoetida, 1 tsp Panch Phoron, 2 Bay leaves and 2 dried chillies. Once the mustard starts spluttering turn the heat off and pour the tadka over the cooked dhal.
  • Garnish with fresh, sliced or grated coconut and coriander leaves.
  • Serve with steamed rice. 

* Soak for 15 minutes if using a pressure cooker. If not, a minimum of 2 hours. You will have to soak only if you are using Pigeon Peas or Split Chickpeas – the others don’t need soaking). This will save you time and energy cooking it on the stove.