Tarka dahl

Tarka dahl is prepared in four stages: soaking, boiling, seasoning and tempering - Parpeet Basi explains all to John Torode
By John Torode
Tarka dahl
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus 1 hr soaking
  • Effort: easy


  • 100 g toor dahl, (split yellow peas)
  • 60 g yellow moong dahl, (split green mung beans)
  • 40 g red masoor dahl, (split masoor lentils)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 75 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp asafoetida
  • 6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, (about 100g), finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp chopped green chillies
  • 50 g ghee
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 whole red chillies, (alternatively use dried red chillies)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped coriander

Tips and Suggestions

all three types of lentils are available from specialist Indian stores or from suppliers online.


1. Wash the three different types of lentils (or dahl) in a sieve and leave to soak, covered in cold water, for half an hour to an hour.

2. Drain the lentils and transfer them to a saucepan. Cover with water, add salt and turmeric and simmer for 45 minutes.

3. Heat the oil in another saucepan until smoking, then reduce the heat and add half of the cumin seeds and half of the asafoetida and leave for 30 seconds or so, until it starts crackling in the pan.

4. Add half of the chopped garlic and half of the onion and fry until golden-brown. Tip in the tomatoes, red chilli powder, ginger and green chillies and cook until the tomatoes are mashed.

5. Add the lentils to the tempered spices, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and keep warm.

6. Heat the ghee in a frying pan until smoking, reduce the heat and add the remaining cumin seeds, asafoetida, garlic and onion. Stir in the coriander seeds and whole red chilies. Serve the dahl in bowls and top with the buttery spices.

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