Tarka dal (lentils)

By Sukhi Singh

October 14, 2016

The famous tarka dal we’ve all tried in restaurants but this recipe far surpasses what you think is tarka dal. As you eat a spoonful of the golden lentils you’ll understand how it sooth you like you’re being wrapped in a blanket of warmth.

This recipe comes from my maternal grandparents family. Everything was cooked in copious amounts of ghee and ghee was deemed to be a status symbol.

I tend not to use ghee and butter in my recipes but I make an exception for tarka dal. My favourite way of eating tarka dal is by breaking my chapatti into small pieces and putting them in a bowl full of dal. As the chapatti absorbs the liquid from the lentils, it swells, it becomes really soft and it’s heavenly.


1Place the lentils in a large mixing bowl and wash with warm water. Rinse and repeat this process until the water runs clear. Finally drain the lentils and put them in a large heavy bottomed pan.

2Add the salt, turmeric, water to the lentils and mix. Cook on a medium high heat for 40 minutes. Stir the lentils occasionally and skim the scum off which floats on the top.

3Whilst the lentils are cooking, in a medium sized saucepan melt the butter and the oil on medium heat.

4Add the cumin seed, ginger and cook for 1 minute.

5Add the onions a cook for 10 minutes. Stir frequently as you want an even colour on the onions. The onions should look caramelised and a deep brown colour.

6Reduce the heat to low and then add the Kashmiri chilli powder and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 4 minutes.

7Stir in the coriander and then add to the lentils once they've cooked. Add more water if you want your dal to be a thinner consistency.


100 g red split lentils

100 g mung lentils

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 liters water

80 g unsalted butter

1 tsp cooking oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

2 red onions finely chopped

2 tbsp ginger finely chopped

1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

2 tomatoes finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped coriander


4 Reviews


May 18, 2017

Thank you for sharing your cooking experience with us.
What a fantastic dish


April 22, 2017

Delicious! Would recommend!

Sukhi Singh

April 5, 2017

Hi, start using some of my recipes that will give you a foundation to work on. Egg and potato bhurji is the easiest one. Good luck

Bally Perifanos

April 4, 2017

Hi Suky

Help help and more help I got married but can’t cook!

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