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Tarka Daal

Enjoy a traditional Punjabi Tarka daal (also known as Tarka Dhal, Tarka Dal, Dhal Tarka or Dal Fry), a hearty vegetarian curry full of bursting flavour and colour.

  • 31 - 60 Minutes
  • Easy
  • 4

How to make TARKA DAAL




  • 300g Tilda Basmati Rice
  • 400g Red Lentils
  • 6 Tbsp of Ghee
  • 1 Tsp Black Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 Inch of Ginger
  • 5 Cloves of Garlic
  • Handful of Curry Leaves
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 Tsp Chilli Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 Lime
  • ½ White Onion
  • 2 Red Chillies
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • Handful of Coriander

How to make Tarka Daal

  1. Rinse the lentils thoroughly and then leave to soak in a bowl for about 20 mins.

  2. Add half of the ghee to a large pan and place on a medium heat. Mince 2 of the garlic cloves and the ginger and add along with the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds.

  3. Dice and add the red onion and cook until softened, about 5 mins. Dice and add the tomato, chilli powder and turmeric and cook for another 2 mins.

  4. Drain the lentils and add to the pan with 700ml of water, and a tap of salt. They should be just covered. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  5. Rinse the rice under cold water until it runs clear. Add to the pan and pour over 600ml of cold water and stir.

  6. Bring the rice to a boil, then put a lid on the pot and reduce the heat to minimum and cook for 10 mins.

  7. Remove the lid, turn off the heat and cover the rice with a clean tea towel, then replace the lid and allow the rice to steam for 10 mins. Fluff with a fork and set aside until the daal is ready.

  8. Once cooked through, taste and add salt and lime as needed.

  9. Meanwhile, heat the remaining ghee in a small pan slice and cook the white onion until golden.

  10. Slice and add the red chillies and garlic and cook for another 2 mins, roughly chop the coriander then add along with the chilli powder, stir and turn off the heat.

  11. Bowl up the lentils, top with a drizzle of the spicy oil and a squeeze of lime and serve.

What is tarka dhal?

Tarka dhal is a traditional Punjabi recipe also known as tarka dal, dhal tarka or dal fry.

This popular north Indian dish is a hearty vegetarian curry that is bursting with flavour and vibrant colour. Cooked from lentils, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and spices, tarka dhal is flavoursome food that feeds the soul.

Filled with rich nutrients, herbs, and spices, this dish is high in fibre and can help to combat cholesterol.

Is tarka dhal vegan?

All the traditional ingredients of a tarka dhal are vegan except ghee. Ghee is a clarified butter commonly used in cooking.

Today, there are many vegan ghee alternatives including vegetable oil, rapeseed oil, mustard oil, coconut oil, and sesame oil. Non-dairy butter can also be used in place of ghee for a vegan recipe. With a ghee vegan replacement, your tarka dhal should now be a vegan dish that can be enjoyed and tasted by everybody.

Is tarka dhal spicy?

Made with chilli powder and fresh red chillies, tarka dhal is an intensified flavoursome bomb. However, the red chillies and chilli powder are added toward the end of cooking and for a milder taste, could be eliminated from the recipe.

Increase or decrease the spice factor by adding more or less of a fiery ingredient into your tarka dhal.

Can you freeze tarka dhal?

Tarka dhal lasts well when frozen so feel free to double batch cook or store portioned leftovers in the freezer for later. Frozen tarka dhal is perfect for when time is short, and your tummy is empty. Wait for your curry to cool, place it in an air-tight container and store it in the freezer for up to three months.

Reheat the tarka dahl to defrost and enjoy this delicious meal at your convenience.

What do you serve tarka dhal with?

This hearty dish is best served alongside steamed rice and warm naan bread.

For a more adventurous approach, tarka dahl can be served with spicy sauteed spinach, mango chutney, and coconut lime cauliflower rice for an enhanced Indian experience.

Tarka dhal has the flexibility to be served as a main or side dish. Due to its adaptable nature, you also have the choice to serve up your dhal as part of an elaborate banquet of Indian cuisine.