November 03, 2010

Dal Adas-Southern Iranian-Style Red Lentil Soup With Tamarind Sauce

دال عدس Dal Adas is a popular and very tasty dish in southern Iran and in our home, it happened to be one of my father's favorite dishes. Every time he would come here to visit he would ask me to make it for him but my dal adas was always a milder version of what my grandmother used to make. He liked the way his mother made this soup, hot and spicy with lots of sauteed garlic and onions, simmering to perfection in tamarind sauce. My paternal grandmother was a gifted cook who could make anything for any number of people and her recipes were known to be full of flavor and very delicious. This dal adas was my grandmother's recipe that was passed down to my father and the rest of the family. This is a perfect soup to have after a long walk in the park where the fall foliage is at its peak and the walkway of your favorite trail is covered with dry leaves that crackle under your feet. This is a rather thick and delicious soup that is typically eaten with flatbread or served over a bed of rice.

Autumn in NY

Dal Adas

Serves 4-6

2 cups red lentils, rinsed well
1 large onion, thinly sliced
5-7 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper powder, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable oil

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until soft and light brown. Add minced garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric, stir well. 
  3. Stir in a tablespoon of tomato paste and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. 
  4. Add red lentils, fill with enough water to cover by 2 inches above the lentils. 
  5. Add salt, black pepper, and cumin, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the tamarind paste and red pepper, stir and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning, add a little bit of water if necessary. 
  7. Red lentils cook quite fast, if you prefer a smoother dal adas cook it a bit longer or add more water if you like it thinner. 
Serve hot with warm bread or rice.



  1. mmmm. Azita Joon, I adore dal adas, I didnt know the Irani version of it. We make it in Pakistan but dont add tamarind- I love this idea and shall try it. Hope you've been well, I've been off the blogosphere for a while as my mum was visiting. Hugs, s

  2. beautiful color of autumn, you capture them very well Azita. of course lentil soup is perfect for winter night as well.

  3. A thick, delicious bowl of red lentil soup is exactly what I need right now. I love the addition of tamarind. :)

  4. It sounds deliciously comforting...I love tamarind, but I dont think I've ever tried in in a dal...I bet its delicious though.

  5. salam azita joon. by chance and searching for haleem i came across this lovely, well designed and helpful we blog.
    i have a co sister inlaw who is very fond of iranian food. i never had the time to explain the recipes.
    i will send your link and i am very confident she will love it and try all out!
    all the best.

  6. Somayeh joon, thank you so much for your kind comments. I really appreciate it!

  7. Oh Azita, the lentil soup sounds and look sure makes a great meal :-) By the way, the pictures are awesome!

  8. Azita, dal and tamarind, two of my favorite ingredients. Over a bed of rice. . .magic words to my ears. You know I will be making this dish very soon. (I seem to say that about every dish you post!). By the way, love the photos of Iran in your blog. So breathtaking!

  9. Hi Azita, we make dal at home with tamarind, we call it katti dal(katti = sour).I am from south Indian origin ( hyderabad).Amazing how food is the same across diffrent conutries!

  10. Hyderbad had a lot of connections with Persia in the 18th and 19th centuries - so some transference is not surprising - its ruler, the Nizam ( much wealthier than the Persian Shah)was like a big benefactor in the middle east ( which had yet to discovr its petroleum riches) and besides close ties with Shia Iran, also maintained mecca

    1. In fact the whole of South India cooks dal and tamarind in various dishes from aamti in Maharashtra to Sambaar in Tamil Nadu and khatti dal (sour dal) is part of the localization of Hyderabadi's Mughlai or North Indian cuisine....and the close links of Iran and Southern India are as old as Greek Roman and Zarathustran eras !! ☺

  11. When I saw your recipe, I instantly started to cry. my mom used to make this for us and we loved it. it was one of my fathers favorite dish as well. I'm Armenian but I was born in Abadan and my dad was from Ahvas. . both my parents have passed away, and I didn't know where to look for this recipe. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  12. its same as south indian sour dal dish sambar.
    Pallava tradition(Pahlavi iranian)?
    Add tamarind aftger dal is cooked or else acid of tamarind will not let pulse cook in time.

  13. i cant find tamarind sauce and wanted to know if there is anything i can use to substitute for the tamarind sauce

    1. You can make this dish without any tamarind sauce.

    2. Yes, you can squeeze in half a lemon. It will do the trick.

  14. As to the tamarind, since it is relatively new to me too, my idea, if someone really is stubborn and wants to substitute it and not omit, would be to puree some dried plums and mixed it with lemon juice and keep it on a more sour side. Or just give a bit of lemon juice and a tiny bit of sugar just to taste.

    I think I will give a try to this soup soon before the summer comes here.

  15. salam Azita khanum...I really enjoyed this post, due to my love for adas, partly because it's so easy to prepare apart from being highly nutritious...about the tomato paste, is it a good idea to substitute with fresh tomatoes if it's unavailable?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Salam Gaby jan, thank you and I'm glad you like this post. Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes or fresh tomato sauce in this dish.

    2. thanks!!!!!!! so in this case, how many fresh tomatoes will be needed to meet the equal amount of tomato paste for this recipe?
      thanks once again in advance!

    3. Gaby, you'll need one large red-ripe tomato.

  16. This is the first time I have seen a recipe for dal-adas on any of the Persian cooking blogs/websites. My family is from Abadan and I remember visiting my grandmothers house when I was four or five years old. My family loves this dish and we make it quite often. I love my Abadani roots and hope to pass it on to my daughter.

  17. Thanks for the great blog, can't wait to try this along with the Ghormeh Sabzi stew.