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Saturday, 10 October 2009

VeganMoFo08: Dhal Soup with Dhal-Chili Cake

dhal soup

With temperatures beginning to become cooler and cooler over here, soup is starting to feel most welcomed! This one is yet another very popular Mauritian soup (sometimes made thicker into a curry). This recipe is infact great if you’ve made a batch of dhal-chili cake and you have some leftovers. Just toss them in some dhal soup and you have a wholesome protein-rich soup that can be enjoyed on its own or with rice and some veggies.

Dhal-chili cake is one among the first recipes I posted on this blog. This time I made some variations.

Dhal chili cake

Ingredients (approximately 25 cakes)

1½ cups (250g) channa dhal soaked for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight)
1 onion, chopped
2 stems spring onions, finely chopped
2 small green chillies chopped (optional if you like it hot)
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for frying

  • Drain dhal completely. Grind the dhal to a paste in a food processor or blender to a combination of fine and not so fine consistency. (There must be enough fines to bind the chili cake together).
  • Add the rest of the ingredients – onions, spring onions, chilies and salt.
  • Mix well. This is best mixed by hand.
  • Preheat oil on medium heat.
  • Drop the dough in small loose balls in the hot oil. (Do not compress the dough balls too much otherwise the centre will remain uncooked).
  • Turn occasionally until golden brown. Adjust heat if necessary to ensure thorough cooking.
  • Remove and allow to drain on kitchen absorbent paper to absorb the extra oil.

dhal chilli cake

Quick Dhal Soup

There are many dhal soup versions out there, but I end up always making this one because it's so quick and always very convenient to just throw everything in a pressure cooker! It is also a healthy version with just 1 tablespoon oil (that you can omit and replace with some water when the recipe calls for it, if you want a completely fat-free dhal)

Ingredients (4 servings, as a side dish)

1 cup (160g) channa dhal (no soaking required)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
1 tomato, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 leveled tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
5 - 6 curry leaves (or 2 – 3 bay leaves), optional

  • In a pressure cooker (or deep heavy base pan with lid), heat the oil.
  • Add all ingredients except salt and dhal.
  • Sauté for a few minutes. Add a little water to avoid burning.
  • Add the dhal and 5 cups (1 litre) water. (If you place your index finger in the water just touching the dhal, the water level should be one knuckle and a half deep).
  • Close pressure cooker and allow to simmer on medium heat.
  • As from first whistle, allow to simmer for 12 minutes.

    I’ve only ever used a whistling pressure cooker which starts to whistle after enough steam has built up inside. So, I wait for the first whistle, then I allow the dhal to cook for another 12 minutes which gives me the right consistency.
  • Allow pressure cooker to cool down for 10 – 15 minutes. Then open.
  • Add water if dhal is too thick or you can thicken it over high heat for a few minutes if too thin.
  • For those of you using a deep pan, boil until dhal is soft. (This should take 20 – 30 minutes).
  • Place dhal in serving bowls and soak in a few dhal cakes.
  • Serve hot with rice, bread or on its own.


  1. This looks really tasty! I have never heard of channa dhal before. I must search around for it and make this meal. It looks and sounds delicious!

  2. That soups sounds great! I have recently become a huge fan of Indian food!! :)

  3. That sounds VERY yummy. I completely agree on it becoming the perfect time for soups. I keep seeing them everywhere and am super jealous. I don't know why, but I hate making soup. I need people to come make some for me!!

  4. I'd take one of those dhal-chili cakes over a dumpling any day! So eager to try those as a soup topping!

  5. This sounds amazing! I love discovering new and unusual recipes from different cultures and this is something I'd love to try. Dhal cakes - mmmmm!

  6. Hi there! This is my first time visiting your blog. Your pictures are beautiful!

  7. Oh wow! I think I NEED a dhal chilli cake! Those are sooo beautiful.

  8. Wow great recipe! Looks delicious!

  9. ooo, i like this idea. it reminds me of the american cornbread and chili! :)

  10. Thanks for this recipe, I'm all over any time of hearty soup these days! It's nice to have options, you know? :)

  11. YUM! That looks amazing!! And I love the addition of the Dhal chili cakes!


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