Punjab Five-Jewel Creamed Lentils (Panch Ratan Dal)

Food Forever Experience London. 27 November 2019. Photo: Michael Major for Crop Trust.

Chef – Anjula Devi

Panch ratan means ‘five-jewels’. This classic recipe calls for five varieties of lentils. 

Serves Six


50 g urad dal (white lentils)
50 g chana dal
50 g masoor dal (red lentils)
50 g toor dal (oily/waxy lentil)
100 g green moong or mung dal
1 tsp turmeric
25 g ghee or clarified butter
1 tsp asafoetida
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 large onion, thinly sliced (for great results use a mandolin)
6 fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped finely
200 ml coconut cream
8 cloves of garlic, minced
10 g fresh ginger, minced
5 green chillies, cut lengthwise into halves
3 tsp kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves)
2 tbsp fresh tamarind paste
Zest and juice of one large lemon
1 small bunch coriander including the stalks, chopped

For tempering (optional)

5 whole dry red chillies
2 thinly slice garlic cloves
10 g ginger, julienned
2 green chillies, slit length ways
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
Salt to taste
8 fresh curry leaves, chiffonaded
2 tbsp of ghee or clarified butter
1 large onion, cut into thin rings (use a mandolin) 


Wash the lentils in warm water until the water runs clear. Soak in cold water overnight, then drain. Using a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the drained lentils along with 900ml of water. Bring to the boil and remove any starch that appears to the surface. Now add the turmeric and ½ tsp of asafoetida. Cover and simmer until the lentils are cooked completely.

Using a wide sauté pan, heat the ghee until hot, then add the remaining ½ tsp of asafoetida, brown mustards seeds, cumin seeds, nigella seeds, crushed coriander seeds and fennel seeds.

Allow the spices to gently warm in the ghee, and once they begin to splutter, add the onions.

Fry the onions on a medium heat until they start to brown and caramelise. Now add the fresh tomatoes and coconut cream, continue to cook until all the tomatoes have broken down. Now add the garlic, ginger and fresh green chillies. Continue to fry, until the whole mixture turns into a golden paste.

Add the paste mixture into the lentils along with the kasuri methi and tamarind. Continue to cook for a further 15 minutes. Stir in the zest and juice of the lemon and the chopped coriander.

For some extra taste and drama

Add ghee to a pan and warm through. Add all the tempering spices allow to fry and sizzle in the pan. Pour the whole mixture over the lentils just before you serve with warm rotis.

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