Dal Fry Mix in a Jar. Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas for Vegetarians

by Sala @ Veggie Belly on December 20, 2011

Dal fry is a typical Indian lentil dish (and popular on restaurant menus) made with cumin, turmeric, onion, tomato, garlic and lentils. I’ve simplified the recipe and turned it into a holiday gift mix in a jar. If you have friends and family who are vegetarian or Indian food lovers, they will be delighted to receive this as a Christmas gift! And you will love making this gift – its easy, fun, vegetarian, vegan AND cheap!

This dal fry mix in a jar was my Christmas present for a dear friend S, who is a new mother and is running her own business. You can imagine just how busy she must be! I figured a tasty dal mix in a jar, that she can make with almost no effort at all will be the perfect holiday gift for a busy mom like her.

l’ve used a combination of red lentils (masoor dal) and green lentils. Make sure you use the flat round green lentils from the bulk section of the grocery store. Dont use whole Indian green lentils (green moong dal) because it takes longer to cook. You can substitute the green lentils with yellow letils (yellow moong dal).

Caramelized onions is a common flavor base for Indian curries. To emulate some of that flavor, I use dried onion flakes in this recipe. They give the lentils a great, deep, slow cooked taste. You can find dried onion flakes in the spice section of the grocery store or in the bulk section.

Writing (or printing) out the recipe/instruction card for this mix is your chance to really personalize the gift. I like to make my instruction cards humorous – like adding inside jokes, cartoons etc. The point is to get funny and creative with the instruction cards!

For another homemade holiday gift idea for vegetarians, take a look at my cajun dirty rice mix in a jar.

Dal Fry Mix in a Jar Recipe

makes 1 jar

For the gift jar
One 1 pint jar
a 5″x5″ piece of fabric
a thin rubber band
some ribbon
Cardstock or any thick paper for writing instructions

Ingredients
¾ cup green lentils (not green moong dal)
¾ cup red lentils
4 tablespoons dry onion flakes
1 ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon salt

Pour the green lentils into the jar first. Then add onion flakes, garlic powder, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Then pour in the red lentils.

If there is a gap between the top layer and the lid, crush a kitchen towel and stuff it into the gap. This will prevent the lentils and spices from moving around, and will preserve the pretty layers in the jar.

Seal jar tightly. Cover the lid with the fabric square. Place a rubber band over the fabric to secure it around the neck of the jar. Tie a ribbon in a bow around the neck of the jar, hiding the rubber band.

Write or print out these instructions on a thick piece of paper and attach to gift jar:

“You will need:
A large, deep skillet with a lid
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tablespoon oil

Heat the oil in the skillet. Add tomatoes, and sauté on medium heat for about a minute. Add the contents of the jar, and stir for 2 minutes.

Pour in 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer the dal for about 20 minutes, or till cooked. Add more water while cooking, if needed.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

Serves 4″

Pierce a little hole in the upper corner of the instructions paper, and tie it to the ribbon. Or place the instructions against the jar, and tie it around the jar using ribbon or a rubber band.

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Comments

comments

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Divya Vikram December 20, 2011 at 3:03 pm

That is one pretty gift!

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2 Rosa December 20, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Wow, that is great! I bet this dish tastes amazing.

Cheers,

Rosa

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3 simply.food December 20, 2011 at 4:11 pm

What a lovely idea. Perfect for a gift.

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4 janet @ the taste space December 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm

So many people complain about their lack of Indian spices but this is a great way to share the gift of dal! Love it!

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5 Jane H. Johansen @ Nord Vegan December 20, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Great! Smart! Would love to get one of these for xmas :)

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6 Heidi @ Food Doodles December 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm

This looks delicious. I really liked your other “in a jar” idea and can’t wait to try that one and this one. And again this is such a nice gift!

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7 Steph December 20, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Hmm… I think I should make a few of these for my own pantry for some stress-free meals. lol

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8 Soma December 20, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Lovely idea!!!

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9 maayeka December 20, 2011 at 11:11 pm

very new and smart idea…creative gift….

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10 aarthi December 20, 2011 at 11:32 pm

awesome idea

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11 Notyet100 December 21, 2011 at 1:41 am

So pretty

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12 a spoonful of yumm December 21, 2011 at 5:00 am

i love your savory mix ideas sala….dal is my favorite !

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13 Sra December 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm

That’s a really smart and thoughtful gift.

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14 Andrea (@FrSeed2Stomach) December 27, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I love this idea so much. I drive myself crazy baking Christmas cookies every December to give to friends, family, coworkers, etc. Totally changing it up next year and giving this instead! So much easier and healthier than all that sugar, butter, and flour! Thanks!!

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15 Lili December 27, 2011 at 3:13 pm

This is a great idea!
But I’m wondering about the cooking time… usually it takes me 45 min to cook green lentils when I don’t soak them during the night and I use 3 parts water for 1 part lentils. But it may be because it is not the right sort…!

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

if you are using a lentil that you know takes longer to cook, by all means go ahead and use that lentil and change the cooking time.

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16 Anamika January 20, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Wow that’s such a thoughtful & brilliant idea for an Indian version of a jar gift..I’m sure your friend must have thrilled by it!

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17 sheetal January 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm

What a brilliant idea! :) this is my next years holiday gift for my colleagues!

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18 Stephanie February 26, 2012 at 10:37 am

I love this recipe! Can I pin this to my pinboard so I can remember it for Christmas for my vegetarian cousins?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

ofcourse!

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19 Robyn March 2, 2012 at 3:52 am

I love this idea. I’ve seen it done with cookies & even risotto, but this is just perfect!

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20 Priti December 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm

That’s a great idea but I have one doubt, usually I wash the dals and lentils before cooking, is it ok to cook without washing?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

The dala I get here are pretty clean and I find I don’t need to rinse them.

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21 Reny December 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Hi….i just hopped onto ur blog by mistake…but such a lovely mistake….love the write ups…ur recipes and crystal clear pics are just awesome !!!! Such a wonderful idea for a gift and so healthy ……Keep up the good work !!

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22 Toni Shelton December 11, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Thank you so much for this recipe. My boss is an Indian and vegetarian and I have been searching for 3 yrs for something personal to give to him for the holidays. This is the perfect gift!!! :)

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