Dal Tadka - the only recipe you'll need

Dal Tadka

Along with rice, dal (lentils) is a food item that’s synonymous with everyday cooking in India. It is a dietary staple, and has a high ratio of protein per calorie. Dal tadka, dal makhani, dal fry, the list of popular recipes made with these humble pulses is endless.

This is the only dal tadka recipe that you’ll ever need!

India’s love for dal (lentils) is legendary. If you have to look for the most popular food combo in Indian cuisine, it wouldn’t take you much time before you figure out that it is dal chawal (lentils and rice) that’s consistently seen across the dining tables in the country. Irrespective of where you go in this vast country, you are going to find at least one dal dish that’s popular to that region.

Dal Tadka - The great Indian lentil delicacy
Dal Tadka – The great Indian lentil delicacy

There is a variety of dal variants available that even for seasoned chefs it could be a daunting task to decide which one to pick for their recipes – toor dal (pigeon pea), mung dal (green gram), channa dal (chickpea), masoor dal (red lentil), rajma (kidney beans), urad dal (black gram), the list goes on. It’s even more difficult to look for one winner from all the different delicacies made with dal. But I guess it’s safe to assume that dal tadka is one of the most popular delicacies among dal lovers.

Dal tadka for many, brings back memories of home and mom’s cooking. For many it is a must have dish when you are eating out at a roadside dhaba or a Indian restaurant. You could associate it with home-cooked food, street food, or even fine dining.

If you were wondering, dal tadka is, dal (lentils), tempered (tadka) with spices. It’s a simple, yet elegant dish with great flavours. At the end of a long day if you want to reward yourself with an easy, yet great tasting home-cooked meal, look no further.

This dal tadka recipe is as simple as it can get. We’ll start by pressure cooking the lentils (I have used toor dal) with tomatoes, ginger and green chillies. Once it’s cooked to perfection, we’ll add salt, and some coriander leaves. That’s the first part done. The next step is to make the tadka. We’ll temper cumin seeds, crushed garlic, dry red chillies, etc. in ghee, and add this to the cooked dal. The appetising aroma that fills your kitchen, and the great flavours that’ll excite your taste buds, you can stop wondering why this humble dish is so popular! Enjoy your dal tadka with phulkas (or chapati) and rice.

Print Recipe
Dal Tadka Yum
Dal (lentils), tempered (tadka) with spices - this dal tadka is the easiest interpretation of the iconic Indian delicacy, and the only recipe you'll need.
Dal Tadka - the only recipe you'll need
Course main course
Cuisine indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For tadka
Course main course
Cuisine indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For tadka
Dal Tadka - the only recipe you'll need
Instructions
  1. Prep the ingredients. Wash the toor dal thoroughly, and drain it. Finely chop the tomatoes, slit the green chillies lengthwise, roughly chop the coriander leaves (cilantro), and finely grate the ginger.
    Dal Tadka - Ingredients
  2. Transfer the dal to a pressure cooker. Add the chopped tomatoes, slit green chillies, grated ginger and turmeric powder. Add 3 cups of water, and mix well. Close the lid, and cook on a high flame. After 1 whistle, reduce to low flame and cook for 4 more whistles.
    Dal Tadka - cooking the main ingredients
  3. Wait for the pressure to reduce, and open the lid. Add salt, coriander leaves, and mix well. Simmer for a few minutes. The curry shouldn't be too watery or too thick.
  4. Heat two tablespoons of ghee in a pan. When it's hot enough, add the cumin seeds. Let them splutter. Crush the garlic pods with the back of a knife, or your palm, and add to the pan. If we slice the garlic, they'll get lost in the gravy. Lower the flame, add the red chillies, asafoetida and chilli powder.
  5. The frying will fill your kitchen with the aroma of tadka. The ghee in the pan should turn golden brown before you switch off. Take care not to burn the tadka ingredients.
  6. Pour the tadka (empty the pan clean) on top of the cooked dal before serving. It's enjoyed best with phulkas (or chapati) and rice.
    Dal Tadka - the only recipe you'll need
Recipe Notes
  • If you are not a fan of dairy products, you can replace the ghee with 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable/sunflower oil
  • This recipe doesn't have any onion. If you are looking for a "no onion, no garlic" cooking, you can stay away from the garlic in tadka

6 Comments

  1. This looks delicious – I love all the spices happening here – bet it smells amazing too!

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Thank you Pamela!
      Yes, it smells amazing! The spices, the butter, it’s a classic Indian that cannot go wrong!

  2. Lentils are soooo under-rated, but they’re phenomenally healthy! They need to be showcased FAR MORE!!

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      That’s so true Gigi! In Indian cuisine we have several signature dishes celebrating lentils. Dal tadka is one such delicacy.

  3. This looks incredible! I love Indian cuisine, but have never ventured into actually making it. Maybe I will with this, especially because you laid it all out so simply and precisely!

    Joanne | https://fung-shui.com/

    • The Take It Easy Chef

      Thank you Joanne! This is indeed an easy recipe to start with. And it’s a classic one too. I am sure you’ll like it.

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