Priya Krishna's Most Basic Dal

Priya Krishna's Most Basic Dal

In the food pyramid of North Indian cuisine, dal sits at the base. Vibrantly spiced with turmeric, cumin, chile, and other traditional Indian spices (together known as chhonk), this lentil-based stew is a staple at any North Indian dinner table.

Priya's secret? "Make and add the chhonk just before you eat to ensure you'll taste the strongest ka-pow of spices and richness." This recipe was adapted from Priya's cookbook, Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family.

All of Anyday’s recipes are tested (and retested!) in many different microwaves and home kitchens to make sure they work — and work well.


Select your microwave wattage in the dropdown. The cook times in this recipe will automatically change accordingly.

To find your microwave’s wattage, look at the front panel, the side of the door, in the back, in the user manual, or Google the model number. If both an input and output wattage are listed, use the output.

Wattage translates to how powerful the microwave is. The higher the wattage, the faster your food will cook. The lower the wattage, the longer the cook time.

When in doubt, start with less time — you can always add more.


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Product Size

  • Small Dish
  • Medium Shallow
  • Large Shallow
  • Medium Deep
  • Large Deep

Prep Time

5 mins

Cook Time

15-17 mins

Free Time

to look through old family photos


  • cup (50g) masoor dal (orange lentils)
  • 1 ½ cups (360ml) water
  • ½  teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 dried chiles
  • ½  pinch red chili powder
  • ¼  cup (.15oz) chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½  pinch asafetida (optional)


  1. Place the lentils, water, turmeric, and salt into the Anyday dish.
  2. Cook uncovered in the microwave at Power Level 9

    Certain foods cook best in the microwave at lower power levels. 

    Different microwaves have different settings. See your microwave manual (or look it up online) to learn how to change your microwave’s power level.

    For many microwaves: enter the cook time, press the “Power” (or “Power Level”) button, and select a number between 1-10. Other microwaves may require selecting the Power Level first, and then entering the cook time.

    Microwaves list power levels in different ways. Here’s a guide to help you adjust:

    PL 10 = 100% = High (default)

    PL 9 = 90% = High

    PL 8 = 80% = Med-High

    PL 7 = 70% = Med-High

    PL 6 = 60% = Medium

    PL 5 = 50% = Medium

    PL 4 = 40% = Med-Low

    PL 3 = 30% = Med-Low

    PL 2 = 20% = Low

    PL 1 = 10% = Low

    You will know if the power level has been successfully changed if you hear periodic changes in the microwave’s tone after it begins cooking.

    for 14-15 minutes, or until the liquid is fully evaporated and the lentils are soft but not mushy.
  3. Let the lentils rest with the lid on for 5 minutes. Then, stir in the lime juice and set aside.
  4. While the lentils rest, place the ghee and cumin seeds in another Anyday dish or other microwave-safe glass bowl. Cover and cook for 1-2 minute, or until the seeds brown and sputter a bit.
  5. Stir in the dried chiles, red chili powder, and asafetida if using.
  6. Add the cumin seasoning into the cooked lentils and mix until fully incorporated.
  7. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serving suggestions & tips

  • Microwave ovens vary, even with the same wattages. Adjust cooking times as needed.