Leftover Surprise #4 ~ Toor Dal with Methi and Baby Onions

cooking dal
pot of dal cooking

I am crazy about the little baby red onions (sometimes labled shallots and sometimes pearl onions) found in the local international grocery. I love them in any incarnation. I first saw them in Indira’s recipe for sambhar with shallots. All it took was one try, and I was hooked on the sweet taste of these onions. They are nothing like the rather harsh, white boiling onions one sees in the markets around Thanksgiving and Christmas. Preparing either is a labor of love, but while the baby reds thank you with every bite, the whites bite you back every time. I’ve lived long enough to make that a no-brainer sort of choice — reds it is!

The methi was fresh, and the onions had been parboiled and were in the fridge awaiting peeling, so the only thing leftover here was the cooked dal.
I guess the dish still qualifies for the name. Once the onions are peeled and the methi is chopped, this comes together in a flash.

methi and baby onions

chopped fresh methi leaves and baby red onions in jewel-like tones of amethyst

Toor Dal with Methi and Baby Onions

1 1/2 – 2c cooked toor dal**
1 bunch fresh methi
1 small package baby red onions
water as needed
salt to taste

1 tsp ghee or oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 dried red chile, seeded


Wash the onions and drop them into boiling water for just a minute or two. Drain. When cool enough to handle, peel and set aside.

Wash methi well and chop leaves roughly, set that aside.

Heat ghee or oil over medium heat in medium saucepan. Add mustard seeds. When the mustard pops, add urad dal and reduce heat to med-low. Add dried red chile. Saute a few minutes until dal is nicely colored and chile is dark.

Add methi and stir-fry a minute or two, until it begins to wilt. Add baby onions and stir them around a few minutes. Add the cooked dal. If mixture is too thick, add a small amount of water. Stir well, cover, and cook 15-20 minutes, until onions are tender and dal is heated through.

Serve hot with rice.

**I had dal which had been cooked with green chiles, salt, and turmeric. I didn’t need additional heat. More chiles/chile powder can be added to taste.

Check out another delicious baby onion dish — Priya’s Shallots Curry.

toor dal with methi and baby onions
toor dal with methi and baby onions


  1. Asha said

    Oh, you are getting better than us and leaving us behind in dust,Linda!:D
    I love pearl onions, we call it ‘Madras Onions’ in Bangalore.They do make one delicious sambhar with sweetish taste. Try Theeyal with it too,might find recipe somewhere.I do have one ,might post it some time.

    I am ready with my crisco for Pasties,need to get some Sirloin tips. After Halloween, I dish out some for kids.I showed your’s, to my daughter Trishala, her eyes were like saucers,started drooling.I better feed them fast!:D

    Aren’t all kids a little Pavlovian when it comes to food, Asha! Just ring the bell… πŸ˜‰ Will be watching for your Madras Onion Theeyal recipe πŸ™‚

  2. maheswari said

    Looks delicious..as Asha mentioned we call it madras onion or sambhar onion.We make sambhar and even theeyal just with these onions.I have posted theeyal recipe in my blog ..check it out..

    Hi Maheswari, I’ll definitely check out your recipe, thanks!

  3. Krithika said

    I agree with Asha, you are getting better than us. Recipe after recipe…
    Dal looks delicious

    Hi Krithika, nice to see you back. Hardly better!! Just experimenting with everything I’m learning from y’all πŸ™‚

  4. shilpa said

    I make this daal often, but haven’t tried pearl onions in it. Will try next time. I add some rasam powder and tamarind to it and it tastes amazing :D.

    Hi Shilpa, I’ll try it your way next time. I was lazy when I made this one πŸ˜‰

  5. Latha said

    Hmmm yumm! Nothing like some dal and hot rice on a tiring weekday night for dinner. I love methi – thats my favorite greens of all! Wish I could stop by Linda!

    Dal and rice is becoming a comfort food for me too, Latha. Welcome to stop by anytime! Bring dosas, pleeeease!! πŸ™‚

  6. Shankari said

    Linda, you are the Queen of Indian cooking. You cook with so much enthusiasm!

    Hi Shankari, thanks for the encouragement! I don’t think I’d say Queen. More like an eager lady-in-waiting learning at the feet of the masters πŸ™‚

  7. indosungod said

    Linda, Dal looks lovely eat with rice with a little bit of ghee, yum.

    Thank you, ISG — I did have a little bit of ghee with it πŸ™‚ Am waiting to get to the store so I can try your brinjal curry, looks so good!

  8. shaheen said

    i agree.. shallots are the best. shallot sambhar and shallot theeyal is just wonderful.Try it with meats, u will like it further.

    I wish I had the free time to make something with shallots every day, Shaheen! Will certainly have to try πŸ™‚

  9. dal and shallots r realy a very good combination…try this recipe..boil a handfull of shallots cut in to half , few green chillies according to ur taste and one tomato .add cooked dal .grind a handful of grated coconut ,cumin seeds and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and mix with the dal mixture with salt..splutter musturd and 2 dry red chillies in 3 tsp oil and pour in to it..done…u’ll love this yummy dal with rice i am sure..btw..thanks for the recipe linda.

    Hi Maneka, this sounds so yummy, I am making it right now. With fresh dal, because I didn’t have any more leftover! Will let you know how it comes out πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  10. Vaishali said

    A great creation. And it looks sooo good in the first pic. I want some of it on my rice, Linda. NOW!!!

    Thanks, Vaishali! I’ll bring some right over. I am coming for a shankarpali lesson! πŸ˜‰

  11. rp said

    Wonderful! Loved the pictures with all those green color and baby onions in it. Very attractive.

    Thank you, RP! Green and purple just happen to be my favorite colors πŸ™‚

  12. Archana said

    I am crazy about these tiny red onions too, just bought a bag this evening. Nice photos, such a homely meal. Enjoy a happy weekend Linda.

    Thanks Archana!! I just bought three bags this evening………………………. little over-the-top but I don’t get to the store so often these days πŸ˜‰
    Happy weekend to you, too!

  13. LC20 said

    My tongue is getting drenched. Pictures are also very nice. Nice blog. πŸ™‚

    Thanks, LC20 πŸ™‚

  14. DilipUK said

    Dal with onions and methi too, am I in heaven. I have never tried this recipe but will do so now. Looks great. I have added a methi recipe on my blog, pass by when you can. Have also added you on my blogroll.

    Hi Dilip, thanks for the kind words. Methi is a favorite of mine. Very nice methi recipe you have posted too — am going to give it a try πŸ™‚

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