Horse gram dal is a delicious South Indian style lentil dish made with horse gram, coconut, and a tempering of spices. This is a quick and easy dish packed with protein, fiber and other vital nutrients. If you’re looking for healthier lentil recipes, this dish should be right on top of your list. Much like millet, horse gram is an underappreciated superfood native to India. A perfect side bursting with flavors that goes equally well with flat breads and cooked grains.
About Horse Gram
Horse gram is a small legume that has been cultivated from millennia past and was once among the staple food. Its English name is derived from its use as a source of rich fodder for horses and cattle since ancient times.
Horse gram goes by many names Kollu in Tamil, Hurali in Kannada to Kulith in Hindi and Marathi. What ever be the name, you can’t deny that it’s a great source of iron, calcium, antioxidants, fiber and protein.
Health benefits of Horse Gram
Given its rich nutrient profile, this legume is said to be a healing and medicinal food. Ayurvedic literature celebrates its diuretic properties.
It has been traditionally used as food medicine for treating diabetes, arthritis, ulcers, cholesterol, asthma and anemia among other ailments. Modern research seems to confirm some of these benefits as well.
The low-carb horse gram literally provides you with the energy of horses along with vital nutrition. and helping you lose weight while at it.
Horse gram gives this dish a distinct aroma and earthy flavor. My recipe remains true to the basic South Indian tempering and avoids the standard onion-tomato gravy base.
While the tempering is simple with the addition of minimal spices, the resulting horse gram dal is as delicious as it is healthy. If you have precooked horse gram, you can make this recipe in 15 to 20 minutes for a quick and tasty meal.
Serve this horse gram dal with plain rice, roti or as a side with tomato rasam rice.
How To Make Horse Gram Dal (Stepwise photos)
Prepare the horse gram dal
1. Add ½ cup of horse gram to a pot. Pick any stones or debris and discard. Rinse well 4 to 5 times. Add 3 cups of water and soak the dal overnight. Discard the water the next morning if desired. Many people want to cook lentils in the soaked water for flavor.
2. Pressure cook the lentils with 1 cup water on a medium heat until you hear 1 whistle. Lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes, until the lentil is soft and tender.
3. To cook in an instant pot, press the pressure cook button and set the timer to 10 mins. When the pressure drops, open the lid, and check if the horse gram is cooked (soft not mushy). If the lentil looks undercooked, add a little more water and cook for little longer.
4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil or ghee oil to a saucepan on medium high. Reduce heat and add these ingredients:
¼ teaspoon of mustard seeds
½ teaspoon of cumin
1 dried red chilli
½ teaspoon of urad dal (optional)
½ teaspoon of chana dal (optional)
5. Sauté for a minute until the dal turns golden brown. and add 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 slit green chilli slit, and curry leaves (from 1 sprig). Sauté until the garlic and chili release their aroma.
6. Reduce the heat to lowest and add the following ingredients:
⅛ teaspoon of turmeric
¼ teaspoon of red chilli powder
½ teaspoon of cumin powder
½ teaspoon of coriander powder
⅓ teaspoon of salt (adjust to taste)
7. Stir well to combine. Add the cooked horse gram along with the stock water in which it was cooked. You can also reserve the water to make rasam and use 4 to 6 tablespoons plain water. Increase the heat to medium-low, cover with lid and cook until the spice flavors are absorbed.
8. After 3 minutes, cook uncovered until all of the liquid evaporates. Taste test and add more salt or spices as required. Add 3 to 4 tablespoon of fresh or frozen coconut and mix well to combine.
9. Remove from heat.
Squeeze some lemon juice and garnish with more herbs before serving the horse gram dal.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup Horse gram (Kulith, kollu, ulavalu)
- 1 tablespoon oil (or ghee)
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon urad dal (optional)
- ½ teaspoon chana dal (optional)
- 1 dried red chilli
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 1 green chilli slit, if required deseed for less heat
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon red chlli powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 3 to 4 tablespoon fresh coconut (or frozen)
How to Cook Horse Gram Dal
- Add horse gram to a pot. Pick and discard any stone and debris. Rinse very well 4 to 5 times. Pour 3 cups water and soak them overnight.
- In the morning discard the water if you want. A lot of people want to use the same water since all of the flavor is in the soaked water.
- On a medium heat, pressure cook the lentils with 1 cup water for 1 whistle. Lower the heat and cook for another 30 minutes, until soft and tender. To cook in instant pot, press the pressure cook button and set the timer to 10 mins.
- When the pressure drops, open the lid and check horse gram has to be soft yet hold its shape. If the lentils are still undercooked pressure with a little more water for little longer.
- Pour oil or ghee to a pan and heat it. Turn the flame to medium and add mustard, cumin, dal and red chilli.
- Saute until the dal turns golden. Then add crushed garlic, green chili and curry leaves.
- Fry till the garlic and chilli begins to smell good. Reduce the heat and add salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder.
- Stir and add the cooked horse gram along with the stock (water in which they were cooked). Increase the flame slightly and cook covered so they absorb the flavors of the spices.
- After 3 mins, open cook until all of the water evaporates. Taste test and add more salt if required. Add the coconut and mix well. Turn off the heat.
- Squeeze some lemon juice before serving the tempered horse gram dal with plain rice, roti or a side with rasam rice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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