Easy Crock Pot Dal (Slow Cooker Yellow Dal)

Easy Crock Pot Dal (Slow Cooker Yellow Dal)

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My crock pot dal recipe is an absolute staple in our house! Made with protein rich split chickpeas and a combination of rich, warm spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander, this slow cooker yellow dal is pure and simple Indian comfort food. Ideal for anyone looking to make a flavor-packed one-pot dinner, or a make-ahead meal!

My husband and kids love it when I make my crockpot dal recipe. Rich, warm spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander fill my kitchen with the most amazing aroma when I’m cooking dal.

Essentially, dal is a spiced lentil stew made with just about any type of lentil. I like using split chickpeas – or “chana dal” because of their flavor and texture. But I’ve made my crock pot dal with red lentils, small black lentils, even black eyed peas. You can use the same spice combo and switch out your legume and it still works great.

When I make chana dal in the slow cooker, I usually serve it with some sort of “sabji” or stir-fried veggies with Indian spices. But oftentimes I’ll throw veggies like kale or sweet potato straight into the dal and eat it as a one-pot dish like in this sweet potato dahl.

My slow cooker dal recipe is totally delicious! With layers of flavor from the fragrant Indian spices and a creamy, comforting texture, it’s a satisfying and hearty dish that my whole family loves, including my kids.

It tastes like Indian comfort food, but also happens to be pretty good for you too. Split chickpeas are packed with protein and fiber, making it a wholesome meal that keeps you full and energized. Plus, slow cooker chana dal is naturally vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free.

Crock pot dal is simple and affordable to make. You can cook the lentils in the slow cooker and just add the spice mixture at the end, so your “active” time is only 15 minutes! If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can also simmer the lentils on the stovetop until they’re cooked through, but then you’ll have to watch it and stir it occasionally. Which is why I love the slow cooker – so I can “set and forget” it and come back to it when I’m ready to serve!

I also really enjoy customizing this recipe based on my mood or preferences that day. It’s so easy to mix things up. I have used different types of lentils, spices, and sometimes I add in my favorite veggies. Whether you are looking for a one-pot meal or want to serve it with sides, it’s easy to make my crockpot dahl recipe your own.

To top it all off, it stores well in the fridge and freezer. You can make a big batch of slow cooker yellow dal and enjoy it throughout the week, or freeze portions for a quick and easy meal on busy days.

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🥘 Ingredients

My slow cooker chana dal recipe doesn’t require any fancy ingredients. You can find all of them at most grocery stores or online. Scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for the exact amounts and nutritional information. 

Ingredients for a crock pot dal recipe all on a marble background.

Split Chickpeas (Chana Dal): These legumes form the hearty base of my slow cooker daal. Chana dal has a rich, nutty taste and a firm texture that holds up well during the slow cooking process. Yellow split peas are a good substitute.

Water: Essential for cooking the lentils to the perfect tender consistency.

Tomatoes: Diced fresh tomatoes add a vibrant, tangy flavor that balances the earthy spices. Canned diced tomatoes can be used in a pinch.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: Used for sautéing the spices and vegetables. I love the subtle flavor and richness that coconut oil adds to the dish, and it has a high smoke point which works well for toasting the cumin and mustard seeds until they pop. You can use ghee if not vegan.

Red Onion & Garlic: Finely chopped red onions and thinly sliced garlic add depth of flavor. I like the subtle sweetness of red onions, but yellow or white onions can also be used.

Spices: I use a mix of ground turmeric, ground coriander seeds, and cayenne pepper to give the dal its warm, earthy, and slightly spicy flavor. I toast the whole cumin seeds and black mustard seeds in the oil at the beginning, which releases their amazing aromas and adds a lot of depth and complexity to the dish.

Fresh Cilantro & Salt: Freshly minced cilantro leaves add a burst of freshness and a herbal finish to the dal. I add it at the end to preserve its bright flavor and vibrant green color. Salt is so important to the flavor profile of this dish! It helps to bring out the natural flavors of the ingredients, making my slow cooker yellow dal that much more savory and delicious.

🔪 How To Make Crock Pot Dal

Learning how to make dal in the slow cooker is so easy it’s sure to become your new favorite dish! Just follow my simple 3 step process, and you’ll have a meal on the table with very little effort.

Cook The Lentils: To begin, I add the lentils, salt, and 3 cups of water to my slow cooker. Then I let them cook on high for 4-6 hours.

Chana dal and water added to a crock pot.

Saute The Spices: When the lentils are about done, I heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. I add a couple of cumin seeds to see if it’s hot. If they pop, the oil is ready to go!

Cumin seeds toasting in a pot on the stove.

Add Cumin & Mustard Seeds: Now, I add all of the cumin seeds and mustard seeds to the pot and let them cook for 10-15 seconds until they pop).

Cumin and mustard seeds sauteed in a pot on the stove.

Add The Rest Of The Aromatics: Next, I add the coriander, turmeric, cayenne, onion, tomato, and garlic, and stir for 30 seconds.

Onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices sauteeing in a pot on the stove.

Saute: Finally, I turn the heat down to medium-low and let the mixture cook until the onions become translucent and the tomatoes break down.

Onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices sauteeing in a pot on the stove.

Finish: When ready, I add the tomato spice mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. I’ll thin it out with water to achieve the consistency I want.

Slow cooker chana dal in a crockpot.

Serve: Then I top with fresh cilantro and serve my homemade slow cooker yellow dal.

Crock pot dal served in a white bowl, garnished with cilantro, with naan on the side.

My #1 Secret Tip or making my slow cooker dahl is to toast the spices, but don’t burn them! Waiting until the cumin and black mustard seeds start to pop before adding them to the dish releases the essential oils that make this dal so delicious. You want to make sure you’re toasting them on medium-high heat only for a few seconds, stirring so that they don’t burn. Burnt spices will add a bitterness to this dish that we want to avoid!

Other Tips To Keep In Mind:

  • Soak The Lentils: Soak split chickpeas (chana dal) in cold water for at least an hour. This softens the lentils, reduces cooking time, and ensures they cook evenly and become tender.
  • Adjust The Heat: For a milder dal, reduce the cayenne pepper or substitute with paprika for a smoky flavor without the heat. For a spicier dish, add more cayenne or a chopped green chili.
  • Control Consistency: For a thicker dal, cook with the lid off for the last 15 minutes to allow some liquid to evaporate. For a thinner consistency, add a bit more water.
  • Stir Occasionally: If you’re home while the crockpot daal is cooking, give it a stir every now and then. This helps to ensure even cooking and prevents any sticking.

📖 Variations

Moong Dal: For a lighter and slightly sweeter version, make moong dal in the slow cooker. It has a delicate flavor that pairs well with a variety of spices. To make slow cooker moong dal, use mung beans and follow the same recipe but reduce the cooking time to about 3-4 hours on high.

Toor Dal: Also known as split pigeon peas, toor dal is another excellent option that will give you a dish with a creamy texture and mildly nutty flavor. To make slow cooker toor dal, you don’t need to make any changes to my recipe other than the legume.

Dal Tadka: This is a popular Indian dish where cooked dal is tempered with ghee or oil, spices, and aromatics. To make slow cooker dal tadka, follow the base recipe for the dal and, once cooked, prepare the tadka separately. Heat ghee or oil in a small pan, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, and dried red chilies until they sizzle and become aromatic. Pour the sizzling tadka over the cooked dal just before serving for an extra burst of flavor.

Red Lentil Dal: Red lentils (masoor dal) cook quickly and have a smooth, creamy texture. They don’t require soaking. Simply add them to the slow cooker with the same spices and cook on high for 3-4 hours.

Black Lentil Dal: Also known as urad dal, black lentils have a rich, earthy flavor and a thicker texture. They take longer to cook, so soak them overnight and then cook on high for 6-8 hours.

Mixed Lentil Dal: Combine different types of lentils for a unique texture and flavor. Try mixing chana dal, toor dal, and red lentils. Adjust the cooking time based on the lentil that takes the longest to cook, usually 4-6 hours on high.

Vegetable Dal: Try adding carrots, spinach, zucchini, or bell peppers. Chop them into small pieces and add them to the slow cooker with the lentils.

Curry Coconut Dal: For a creamier, richer crock pot dal, add some curry powder and stir in a can of coconut milk during the last hour of cooking.

🍽 Serving Suggestions

My yellow dal in the slow cooker is a versatile dish that can be paired with a variety of breads, sides, and sauces. These are just a few of my favorites:

With Sides: Serve the dal over a bed of fluffy basmati rice or my instant pot quinoa. It’s also wonderful with my Indian asparagus stir fry or Indian spiced bok choy.

With Breads: I’ll often serve dal with my warm, soft vegan naan bread or flaky Guyanese roti. It’s perfect for soaking up the delicious, spiced lentil stew. For a gluten-free option, I also like it with my homemade gluten free bread.

With Sauces: Mint chutney or tamarind chutney pairs perfectly with the dal, adding a sweet and tangy contrast. A side of yogurt raita is also a refreshing complement to the warm, spiced dal. 

With Indian Dishes: Pair it with other classic Indian dishes like my vegan palak paneer or cauliflower sabji. For a larger spread, feel free to add classic Indian appetizers like my samosas or tandoori cauliflower.

🧊 Storage Directions

Fridge: Once the dal in crock pot has cooled, I put it in an airtight container. It keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days, making it perfect for meal prepping. 

Freezer: For longer storage, I always freeze the dal. Let it cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bag, leaving a bit of space at the top for expansion. Dal will stay good in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Reheating: For the best results, I warm it up on the stovetop over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it’s heated through. If it has thickened too much, just add a splash of water or vegetable broth to get it back to the right consistency.

For a quick reheat, I will also use the microwave. I’ll place an individual portion of dal in a microwave-safe bowl, cover it with a damp paper towel to keep it moist, and heat on high for 2-3 minutes. If you choose this method, make sure to give it a stir halfway through to make sure it heats evenly.

❓Recipe FAQs

CAN I MAKE THIS DAL RECIPE IN AN INSTANT POT?

Yes, use the sauté function to toast the cumin and mustard seeds, then add the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and other spices. Once fragrant, add the soaked split chickpeas and water. Seal the Instant Pot and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow for a natural pressure release for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure. Add the cilantro before serving.

CAN I MAKE THE DAL ON THE STOVETOP?

Yes, just simmer the soaked lentils on the stove for until they’re cooked through. If you’ve soaked them long enough, they should take about 1-2 hours to cook. Then saute the spices, make the tomato mixture, and complete the recipe as stated in the instructions.

WHY DID MY DAL BURN?

Crock pot dal can burn if there isn’t enough liquid in the slow cooker, or if the appliance was set to too high a temperature. Ensure you use at least the recommended amount of water. Also, avoid adding dairy products like yogurt or cream during the initial cooking process as they can thicken and cause burning; add them at the end instead.

WHY AREN’T MY LENTILS COOKED?

If your lentils aren’t cooked, it could be due to insufficient soaking time or incorrect cooking time and temperature. Make sure to soak the split chickpeas for at least one hour before cooking. If using a slow cooker, ensure it is set to high and the cooking time is sufficient (4-6 hours). How long to cook dal in slow cookers can vary, but it will always take at least 4 hours for chana dal.

Slow cooker yellow dal served in a white bowl, garnished with cilantro, with naan on the side.

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📋 Recipe Card

Easy Crock Pot Dal (Slow Cooker Yellow Dal)

My crock pot dal recipe is an absolute staple in our house! Made with protein rich split chickpeas and a combination of rich, warm spices like turmeric, cumin, and coriander, this slow cooker yellow dal is pure and simple Indian comfort food. Ideal for anyone looking to make a flavor-packed one-pot dinner, or a make-ahead meal!

Prep Time15 minutes

Cook Time6 hours

Total Time6 hours 15 minutes

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Indian, Vegan, vegetarian

Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian

Servings: 4 servings

Calories: 210kcal

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  • Add the lentils, salt, and 3 cups of water to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours.

  • When your lentils are close to done, heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add a couple cumin seeds to test out the heat of the oil. If they pop, the oil is ready to go!

  • Add all of your cumin seeds and mustard seeds and let cook for 10-15 seconds (until the seeds pop).

  • Then add your coriander, turmeric, cayenne, onion, tomato, and garlic, stir for 30 seconds, and turn the heat down to medium low. Let it cook until the onions become translucent and the tomatoes break down.

  • Add the onion/tomato/spice mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine. Top with cilantro and serve!

  • Soak The Lentils: Soak split chickpeas (chana dal) in cold water for at least an hour. This softens the lentils, reduces cooking time, and ensures they cook evenly and become tender.
  • Adjust The Heat: For a milder dal, reduce the cayenne pepper or substitute with paprika for a smoky flavor without the heat. For a spicier dish, add more cayenne or a chopped green chili.
  • Control Consistency: For a thicker dal, cook with the lid off for the last 15 minutes to allow some liquid to evaporate. For a thinner consistency, add a bit more water.
  • Stir Occasionally: If you’re home while the crockpot daal is cooking, give it a stir every now and then. This helps to ensure even cooking and prevents any sticking.

Calories: 210kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 3.4g | Saturated Fat: 2.9g | Sodium: 581mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 4g

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Originally published in pickyeaterblog.com