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Sookhi urid dal with crisped onions

Angela Clutton

A take on a 1980s recipe, inspired by Madhur Jaffrey

Recipe Meta


3 hours


30 mins






For the dal

  • 200g urid dal
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 200g onions
  • 600ml vegetable oil

To serve

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 hot red chilli


Rinse the dal then soak for 3 hours in plenty of cold water. Drain and rinse again.

Mix the spices in a cup. Add 1 tbsp water and stir to a paste. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oilin a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the spice paste, stir, then quickly add the dal. Stir, add ½ tsp salt, cover with 225ml water and bring to a simmer. Put a lid partially over the pan and let the dal cook for about 20 mins, until tender. Most of the liquid in the pan will disappear.

Use that time to peel the onions and slice into very fine half-moons. Pour the oil into a deep pan approximately 22cm wide. When the oil is so hot it is spitting a little, carefully lift in the onions. Watch carefully as they turn a light brown – they can change quickly from browned to burnt. Lift the onions out with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper, and leave them to crisp and cool.

Just before you serve the dal, heat the ghee in a small pan. Add the cumin seeds, then the whole chilli. The chilli will puff up a little in the hot oil. Pour the chilli, toasted cumin and ghee over the dal, and serve with the crisped onions alongside or on top.

Images: Joe Woodhouse

A walk through the reign

This recipe is from a Jubilee-inspired exploration of seven decades of British cookery. Read the stories behind the recipes in Angela’s blog

Where to buy these ingredients

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