Baby Dal Recipe that’s 100% vegetarian, gluten-free and can be made vegan if you choose to. Make creamy, delicious, healthy and nutrient-rich lentil baby food at home for different stages – 0 to 4. The satisfaction & joy of feeding your baby homemade food is immense because it is clean & fresh with no additives. In this post I share how to cook dal or lentils for your baby along with plenty of time-tested tips to easily transition from smooth lentil puree to textured lentils and then to grown-up lentil food like this Dal Fry.
So after reading this post you will know how to introduce lentils to your baby, without being bloated or having any tummy issues.
About Baby Dahl
Lentils known as Dal or dahl is a staple in the Indian homes. Our regular meals include some or the other kind of lentils for almost every meal. But unfortunately your baby cannot eat the lentils you make for the grow-ups for the simple reason, baby dal should be devoid of salt, spices and oil.
So traditionally Indians follow a specific lentil diet for babies and is so much different from the grown-up version. Since babies are born with colic, it is very important to introduce lentils to baby with caution. Else both the mom and the baby end up with sleepless nights as lentils can cause stomach gas and colic.
Traditionally a lot of Indians follow the Ayurvedic diet for the baby food. So all the suggestions in this post are time-tested not only by me for my babies but also by zillion Indian families.
Which Dal to use for Baby
Moong Dal is the most commonly used lentil for babies in North India and Toor dal is most commonly used in South India. A lot of South Indians following the ayurvedic diet also use moong dal. Because Moong dal is considered to be Tri-doshic meaning it can balance any kind of imbalances in the body and improve the health. Moong dal is also considered easy for digestion.
If you are new to identifying the lentils, I have a picture here. Moong dal are known as yellow split and skinned petite lentils or yellow mung dal.
Here is a picture of the toor dal known as split pigeon peas or tuvar dal. Red lentils, chana dal and black dal are not used for babies as a first food because they can easily cause stomach gas.
How to Introduce Dahl to Baby? (Stage 0 to 4)
Please consult your pediatrician before you introduce your baby to solids. The best time to introduce is different across the globe and depends on the region and culture.
Stage 0 Lentil Baby Food: A lot of homes, cook lentils and strain the stock (lentil cooked water). This is cooled and fed to the baby before noon, without adding anything. This works in 2 ways – one is to check if the baby does well with lentils and the second is to get the baby used to the flavor of lentils.
For this a 3 day wait rule is followed to make sure the baby does not have any reaction, colic or indigestion. This is a stage 0 (Zero) lentil baby food and a 6 months old baby will be able to consume only a few teaspoons of this.
Stage 1 Baby Dal (8 Months): Later at this stage, we cook the lentils and rice together for a breakfast or mid-day meal. You can add easily digestible veggies like pumpkin or carrots to make a stage 1 lentil baby food.
At this stage avoid using vegetables that can potentially cause gas like potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli and sweet potatoes. You will also keep the quantity of dal less and rice more. You will mash the food completely or puree in a blender at this stage to get a puree like texture. Add a few drops of Cultured Ghee and not the other.
Note that you should have already introduced ghee, rice and the vegetables individually that you want to add here. Ideally at this stage we use a ratio of 1:4 (dal:rice).
Stage 2 (9 to 10 months) : At stage 2 you will increase the quantity of dal and more veggies. You can also introduce toor dal at this stage if you want. More kind of veggies like , bottle gourd and ridge gourd are also used.
This extra veggies give more texture to the baby lentil food. Also you may include spices like black pepper (during colder days), turmeric (a pinch) and carom seeds powder (ajwain for digestion) at this stage. All these are optional.
Stage 3 (11 to 12 months) : You will only increase the quantity of meal including ghee. Leafy greens life spinach, fenugreek can also be used. A lot of Indian also introduce Rasam and Sambar at this stage (low spiced/heat versions). I would make a no chilli version of these for my babies.
Stage 4 (after 12 months): Is a more textured meal where you will only soft cook the food and leave it to chunks so your baby begins to enjoy the texture of lentils, rice and veggies. At this stage we use 1: 1 ratio of dal and rice
Ways to cook Lentil Baby Food
The easiest way to make dal for your baby is in a pressure cooker – stovetop or electric cooker as this gives you the option to go with hand-free cooking.
In the step by step pictures I have shown how to make it in a cooker. Here is how to cook in a pot without a cooker.
- Soak half cup lentils for at least 1 hour up to overnight, as this helps in cooking them faster. You are free to skip this but your baby will be able to digest the soaked and cooked lentils easily.
- Rinse the lentils well after soaking and pour 2 cups of fresh water. Bring it to a rolling boil and simmer. Cook uncovered until tender. You will see a lot of froth, remove that with a slotted spoon and discard.
- When the lentils turn tender, Strain the stock and cool it. This gives you stage 0 dahl for your baby.
- To make the baby food for other stages, you simply add the other ingredients as mentioned in the recipe card and cook.
Never introduce your baby to lentils in the later part of the day. According to Ayurveda, it is believed that digestion is best during the first half of the day (before noon) and it is sluggish in the later part. So we always feed lentils for breakfast or lunch. This clears up the lentils in the tummy by night, before you get your baby to bed.
Avoid introducing any other new food to your baby while you introduce the lentils. The reason being you won’t know which food has caused the trouble (in case).
Also note that it is essential to test every single food for 3 days before you cook a meal with all of them. Go slow!
How to Cook Dal for Baby (Stepwise photos)
1. Wash rice and dal together at least twice in lot of water. Optionally soak them for at least 30 to 60 minutes with 1 cup water in a small pressure cooker or pot. I use a 3lts pressure cooker.
2. Just before you cook, chop or grate veggies freshly and add to the soaked rice and dal.
3. On a medium heat pressure cook for 2 whistles. If you do not have a cooker, bring the water to a rolling boil and turn down the heat to low. Simmer until the lentils and rice are tender. If you find any froth, discard that with a slotted spoon.
4. When the pressure reduces , open the lid and check. The rice, lentils and veggies must be soft and mushy. While the rice is still hot, mash it to smooth with a spoon or a masher.
5. Add ghee, a pinch of crushed pepper and turmeric if you want. Babies need healthy fat, we use ghee. You can add salt after 1 year.
6. Mix everything well. If the consistency is too thick, pour some boiling hot water. Avoid adding cold water. Serve lentil rice warm. Warm foods digest better.
How to Make Stage 4 Lentil Baby Food
Babies over an year tend to become picky or choosy and love textured foods rather than smooth purees. So you can slowly move to veggies like onion, green peas, cauliflower, carrots, capsicum, methi, palak, beets etc. You can also make this moong dal recipe and serve with plain mashed rice.
1. Soak rice and dal for at least 30 minutes. Heat ghee and saute cumin. Add grated ginger and saute. It will begin to smell good.
2. Add veggies and saute again for 2 minutes.
3. Add rice and dal. Repeat sautéing for 2 mins.
4. Add salt and water as needed.
5. Close the pressure cooker and allow to whistle once or twice depending on the brand.
If desired you can mash it further before serving.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ¼ cup moong dal or toor dal
- 1¼ cup water
- 1½ to 2 tablespoon moong dal or tuvar dal (Refer the introduction)
- 2 to 2½ tablespoon uncooked rice
- 1¼ to 1½ cup water (more to adjust)
- 3 tablespoon carrots , peas, pumpkin, spinach, fenugreek etc
- ⅛ teaspoon ghee melted
- 1 pinch turmeric (optional)
- 1 pinch black pepper (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon ajwain powder (optional)
Stage 0 – Lentil baby food
- Rinse and soak lentils for an hour , up to over night. Drain and rinse well. Pour fresh water and bring to a rolling boil.
- Turn down the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender & mushy. Discard any froth that comes to the top while cooking.
- Strain the lentils and cool completely. Feed a few teaspoons of this stage 0 lentil baby food. You can freeze this stock or refrigerate for 2 days.
Stage 1 to 3
- Wash and soak rice and dal together for at least 30 to 60 minutes with 1 cup water. Later drain and pour fresh water.
- Add chopped or grated vegetable to the soaked rice & dal.
- Pressure cook on medium flame for 2 whistles. To cook in a pot check my step by step photo guide in the post.
- When the pressure drops, open and mash the rice to smooth while still hot.
- Add ghee, spice powders and turmeric if you want. (for stages 2 to 3)
- Mix well, to bring it to right consistency, if needed add very little hot boiling water and mix. Do not mix cold water it will change the taste of the dal.
- You can also make stage 1 to 4 baby food if you have precooked rice, lentils and vegetables ready separately from other meal. Simply use the quantities mentioned in the ingredient notes and combine them – puree or mash or mix well. But use hot foods and not cold.
- All the recipes are tried and tested for my babies.
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)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Dal Baby Food Recipe first published in August 2014. Updated in August 2022.
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. More about me
Follow Swasthi’s Recipes