Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal)

Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal) is a beloved and nutritious Nepali daal made with split black lentils tempered with a special Himalayan herb, jimbu.

Daal is a soup made with dried split peas or lentils, a staple in the Indian subcontinent. There are endless variations to daal preparations based on the type of lentil used, spices/herbs, and how it is finished. Daal is typically eaten as a side dish with rice, roti/naan, meat and vegetable dishes. Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal) is a staple in Nepali cuisine, especially during the winter months.

If you are new to the world of legumes and beans, I suggest you read the following posts :

Maas Ko Daal is unique from other daals because of the way it is cooked and finished at the end. Traditionally, an iron pot is used for cooking Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal) which imparts a black color as well as the rich flavor to the daal. Additionally, a Himalayan herb called “jimbu” is used to finish off the daal, which makes this daal very special.

Jimbu, a dried, aromatic, perennial herb from the onion family is native to the North Central mountainous region of Nepal. In the US, I have seen Jimbu at Nepali grocery stores or Indian grocery stores with Nepali food/grocery selections.

I am using my Instant Pot to cook Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal) but you can cook the Maas Ko Daal in a heavy bottom pot (iron preferred) or a pressure cooker. Split black lentils can be bought at most Indian/Nepali grocery stores, often labeled as split urad daal or split black gram.

Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal)

For 4-6 servings

1 cup split black lentils (split urad daal, kalo daal), with skin on
3 cups water
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ghee (use oil if vegan/dairy-free)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
Salt to taste

To temper:
2 tablespoons ghee
1/2 teaspoon Jimbu
optional: small pinch of asafoetida, thinly sliced cloves


  1. Rinse and soak split black lentils for 15-20 minutes.

  2. Drain the split black lentils and add it to the Instant Pot with 3 cups of water, chopped ginger, ghee, salt, and turmeric powder. Set the Instant Pot to manual setting for 15 minutes. Allow the Instant Pot to naturally release the pressure, which may take 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can also cook Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal) using a heavy bottom pot or pressure cooker but the timing will vary.

  3. In a medium pot, melt ghee over medium heat. Add Jimbu and fry until it’s light brown and fragrant, 5-7 seconds. Add a small pinch of asafoetida and thinly sliced cloves if using. Saute everything for 8-10 seconds.

  4. Pour the split black lentils mixture from the Instant Pot into the medium pot with ghee and Jimbu. Stir everything well and cook for 10-15 minutes covered until daal is slightly thickened. **If you have a small cast-iron pan, you can add the cast-iron pan to the pot to impart the black color and flavor to the daal.

  5. Add water to adjust the consistency and bring it to a simmer. Taste and adjust the salt level accordingly.

  6. Serve the Maas Ko Daal (Nepali Kalo Daal) hot.

Dixya Bhattarai

Dixya Bhattarai

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