Road Trips are Awesome!

Do you agree? I love road trips!
Fortunately I have always travelled a lot by road, both with my parents and my husband. It’s my favourite way of travelling, not only you get to choose when and where to stop to take photographs but can also discover so many interesting things in the most unexpected places. The moment we start packing our bags, excitement takes over mundane. A long nice drive with the whole family together, chatting, munching, listening to music – that’s what I look forward to the entire year!

Lahore-Islamabad Motorway:

Travelling on the road from Lahore to the Northern areas of Pakistan is in itself a fun experience. The more convenient and modern Motorway is very scenic. The variety of landscape is astounding – the road stretches stright through lush green fields and citrus gardens of Punjab, then gradually ascends as it reaches the plateaus of the Salt Range stretching from east to west in the Pothohar region, and seems to meet the horizon as it touches the faint outline of Margalla hills near Islamabad.

The Good Old GT Road

But if you want to have a more upclose and personal taste of the local culture, travel by GT Road (Grand Trunk Road)
GT Road (Grand Trunk Road). The road itself is a historic feature, being one of South Asia’s oldest and longest. It takes you through many small towns, across rivers, drives past forts and places of historical and archeological significance, you get to see the most amazing display of truck art which is indigenous to this region and, ofcourse, you stop by for refreshments at the numerous roadside eateries or dhabas.

Three Cheers for Dhaba Food!

“Dhaba” in Punjab and Northern areas of Pakistan is the name for an inexpensive road-side restaurant, frequented by highway travellers and truckers. Dhaba food is my fascination because sometimes a good food memory just becomes the highlight of ones
entire travel experience and I’m lucky to have many of them at these dhabas. The food is always hearty and the service is quick, humble and sincere – quite a contrast to the bland food and snooty service of posh restaurants. I’ve had the best Chicken Keema, masala omelette, karak chai of my life at these dhabas. Now it has become our travel ritual to stop by for tea and lunch at some of these food shaks while travelling by road.

Daal Maash, Dhaba Style!

One of the most popular on dhaba menu is always daal maash fry, served with freshly cooked whole wheat rotis from tandoor. My mother used to cook this daal with a different recipe. When I first tasted it at a very small road side eatery, on our way to the northern mountains, I instantly fell in love with this particular style of cooking daal Maash/yellow lentils. It was served with raw onion rings and the hottest green chilli peppers I have ever eaten. I tried to recreate that recipe with less oil and finally I’ve come up with a healthier version of daal Maash/ yellow lentils, Dhaba style.


1+1/2 cup daal Maash/yellow lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 pods black cardamom
3-4 cloves
5 pepper corn
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 teaspoon ground red chilli
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
3 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil
Ginger, spring onions and green chilli peppers for garnishing.

This Is What You Do:

Boil daal Maash/yellow lentils with 1/2 teaspoon salt on medium heat till just done but still very firm or al Dante.

Don’t overcook it or it will become pasty and bland.Drain and set aside the boiled lentils.

In a wok or medium frying pan heat the oil and fry onions till golden.Add tomatoes, garlic, cardamoms,cloves, pepper corn, chilli flakes, ground chilli, cumin seeds and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Fry the masala for 2-3 minutes, add 1/2 cup water, cover and let simmer on low heat till tomatoes are tender.Remove the lid, let excess liquid evaporate and masala thicken up.

Add the boiled lentils, mix with masala, let simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle with garnishing, serve hot with roti.

Serves 4

10 Replies to “Daal Maash, Yellow Lentils Fry, Dhaba Style”

  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, Maria. These dhabas sound like something we would certainly enjoy. I can imagine that in their own way, they are an attraction in themselves on these road trips! Loving the recipe too, so easy and so satisfying!

  2. Absolutely agree. Road trips are fun and I like the advantage of being able to pull over whenever I want, explore anything I see, take the scenic route and enjoy the dhaba food. Thanks for a great recipe of daal maash (we call it daal maanh).

  3. Loved this Dhaba style Dal.. I used to travel too and alot by road.. Loved eating in the Dhabas. would love to try this version of yours:)

    1. Thank you so much, dear Shubha! 🙂 Glad you share my love for Dhaba style food, there is something really irritable about it! 🙂

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