Dal tadka is one of the great Indian dishes. Curry restaurants all over the world serve up steaming bowls of aromatically spiced lentils to customers craving this creamy concoction.
The good news is that it's not hard to make dal tadka (sometimes known as yellow dal tadka or dal fry). In fact, I think knowing how to whip up a wholesome bowl of dal is an essential culinary skill. It's nourishing, budget-friendly and it suits a variety of diets, including vegan. And, it tastes brilliant!
What is Dal Tadka?
Dal tadka is a North Indian dish that consists of lentils mixed with tempered curry spices, onions and tomatoes. It's topped with additional spices tempered in oil. Tadka literally translates to "tempering". We'll be using two tadkas in this recipe for double the flavor.
There are many different dal recipes out there, but dal tadka remains one the simplest and most popular recipes.
In India this dish is frequently made using the dhungar method, which involves smoking the lentils with charcoal to impart a smoky flavor. For simplicity (and not setting off our fire alarms) I've omitted this step. But, I think you'll find the exotic combination of spices in this recipe just as alluring and flavorful as the traditional version.
How To Make Dal Tadka
- Wash your toor dal and soak it in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes.
- Transfer your lentils to a large saucepan and add water in a 3:1 ratio. So, for one cup of dry toor lentils, you would use 3 cups of water. Add the turmeric and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the dal to cook for 35-40 minutes.
- While your lentils are cooking, start making your first tadka in a pot big enough to hold the cooked dal. Heat your vegetable oil and saute the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and sliced green chili pepper for 2 minutes.
- Now add your onion and saute for a further 4 minutes.
- Add your chopped tomatoes, ground cumin, asafoetida, ground coriander and Kashmiri chili powder and saute for another 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are broken down.
- Now tip your cooked dal into the pot and give everything a good stir. Add enough water to get your dal to the consistency that you like. I usually add ½ - 1 cup of water. Some people prefer their dal tadka soupier; if that's you, add another cup of water. Allow your dal tadka to simmer for 5-10 minutes so that all the flavors can mingle.
- While your dal tadka is simmering away, make your second tadka, Heat your vegan butter in a small saute pan and saute the red chili pepper, cumin seeds, garlic and asafoetida for 3 minutes.
- Serve with rice, roti or naan. Pour your second tadka over the top and garnish with fresh cilantro. Enjoy!
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- 1 cup Toor Dal
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For The First Tadka
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 green chili finely chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion finely chopped
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida =optional
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
For The Second Tadka
- 1 tablespoon vegan butter
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 red chili sliced
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida
- ½ cup cilantro finely chopped
- Wash the dal and soak it in water for 30 minutes.
- Drain the dal and transfer it to a large saucepan. Add the turmeric, salt and water and boil for 35-40 minutes. Drain off any excess water and set the dal aside.
- In a pot large enough to hold the cooked lentils, heat the vegetable oil. Saute the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and chili pepper for 2 minutes.
- Add the onion and saute for 4 more minutes.
- Add the tomato, coriander, asafoetida, chili powder and salt. Saute for 5 minutes.
- Stir the cooked dal into the pan and add ½-2 cups of water to thin the dal to your desired consistency. Season with salt. Allow the dal to simmer for 5-10 minutes.
- Prepare the tadka by heating vegan butter in a small pan. Saute the cumin seeds for 1 minutes. Add the chili pepper, garlic and asafotida and saute for 3 more minutes.
- Serve dal tadka with basmati rice, roti, parathas or naan. Garnish with fresh cilantro.