You’ll never have a daal moment with this list!
By Shaan Bajaj
My dadima had a golden rule growing up: all the children of the house had to eat a roti with sabzi every day, usually served with daal. She would make a green lentil daal with tomato tarka, as it was my favourite. Occasionally though, I would pour the piping hot daal over a warm bowl of rice, with a spoon of butter for good measure. Even thinking about it instantly whisks me back to my childhood.
You may think that there is only yellow tarka daal or daal makhani, but actually, every region if not household has their own recipe. Masala has tried seven different daals in the city that will have you saying, “daal-icious!”
Dal muradabadi (THB 280) at Punjab Grill (pictured above)
Why you should try it: Punjab Grill celebrates cuisine from the Punjab region, which is now divided between India and Pakistan. The space exudes a luxe atmosphere that is on par with their gourmet offerings. Although there are a few different types of daals available, I tried the newest addition to the menu. Daal muradabadi comes from the state of Utter Pradesh, and is made with yellow moong daal, and garnished with a crispy version of the lentils, freshly cut onions, tomatoes, and a squeeze of lemon. It is aromatic and chat patta (spicy and tangy), a combination that makes it incredibly scrumptious.
Daal bukhara (THB 320) at Indus
Why you should try it: With almost 20 years of experience within Bangkok’s dining scene, Indus has truly created a name for itself that is synonymous with excellent Indian food. The space and menu is a homage to India, with every dish on the menu offering an explosion of flavours with modern cooking techniques. Their Daal bukhara caught my eye, as the recipe entails cooking black lentils overnight with bukhara (plum), a fruit which adds a hint of sweetness. Dip a piping hot piece of garlic naan into it for utmost satisfaction.
Palakura pappu (THB 310) at JHOL
Why you should try it: JHOL is a revered dining establishment in the heart of Bangkok and they seek to highlight Indian coastal flavours using innovative gastronomy. Dining at JHOL is a one-of-a-kind experience. Their menu features a daal from the Southeastern coastal state of Andhra Pradesh, Palakura pappu daal. It is made with a healthy dose of spinach; its distinct earthy flavour adds a subtle creaminess to the yellow lentils, while chilli, mustard, tamarind, and tomatoes are used to add a layer of spice and tanginess to balance the dish. This hearty bowl will instantly make you want to call your mum, as it is nostalgic of the motherland.
Dal charcoal (THB 350) at Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology
Why you should try it: If you have not already heard or visited Charcoal Tandoor Grill & Mixology, they have mastered the art of tandoori cooking. While dining there, you can sample their tantalising range of kebabs, and more from the recipe books of the Mughal Empire. Each dish awakens your palate, much like their signature daal. At first glance, this urad daal may seem fairly simple. However, this creamy, rich, and appetising dish is cooked in a tandoor, in line with their expertise. The delicate layer of smokiness from the tandoor elevates the daal with an addictive complexity to its flavour. For all black lentil lovers, this one is a must-try!
Dal ma rang mahal (THB 340) at Rang Mahal
Why you should try it: Rang Mahal is a cornerstone of Indian cuisine in Bangkok, with its opening dating back two decades. Perched on the 26th floor of the Rembrandt Hotel & Suites Bangkok, you can take in the sparkling city while indulging in their North Indian cuisine. Their signature daal is a classic recreation of maa ki daal, where they cook black lentils for 12 hours, on top of a low flame. In addition to tomato, garlic, and cream, they have used Kashmiri mirchi for some much-welcomed heat. The result is a sweet, velvety bowl of comfort food, which you will not be able to stop eating. Watch out for the spice, as it does creep up on you.
Aam Daal (THB 79) at Hasan Biryani Halal Indian Food
Why you should try it: This small hole-in-the-wall restaurant serves a variety of South Asian delicacies. Although they have a small seating area, they recommend ordering in to savour the flavours while you are sat at home with your friends and family. What caught my attention was their Aam daal, made with raw mango. I had never heard of a daal like this, therefore I knew I had to try it. They use yellow lentils to make a smooth light consistency, and you can instantly taste the sourness of the raw mango that pairs nicely with the tartness of the daal. If you are feeling a bit adventurous, venture beyond the usual suspects and try this one.
Jain cloud i dal (THB 285) at Cloud I BKK
Why you should try it: Cloud i BKK is a cloud kitchen offering fresh and premium Indian fare; and their dishes taste as divine as their chic white-and-black packaging looks. I was curious to taste their jain daal, as I wondered how they would achieve a flavourful version of the classic daal makhani without the use of onions and garlic. However, each bite packs a punch, the spices are perfectly balanced, with a hint of sweetness and tanginess, while the daal itself is buttery, and pairs perfectly with a soft roti or naan. If I were hosting a dinner party with a variety of dietary restrictions, this daal would please everyone.