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Dal Tadka or the Dhaba style Yellow Tadka dal is the commonest form of making cooking lentils.
To make this curry cooked lentils or dal, are tempered or seasoned with a mixture of spices called a tadka.
Simple and delicious this curry is commonly had in the Indian subcontinent. Paired with roti or rice this is everyday food in Indian homes. Every household has a different way of cooking this dal but this post is about how I make it.
This recipe forms a part of my new series “Mamma, how do I?”. Here I am trying to address the problems my children face. These will be beginner-friendly recipes if you have any requests please comment and let me know.
For a change, I plan to pair my dal with this easy, gluten-free Phara I make.
- Dal Tadka and me
- About Dal Tarka
- Why MSK Dal Tadka recipe
- How to make Dal Tadka recipe
- For Your Questions
- Some delicious Lentils Curries
- Recipe card
- Pin for later
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My daughters are living as bachelorettes. They are now fed up with eating out so want me to share some of their favourite recipes.
The requests are something that uses lesser utensils to cook and time. Should be versatile and delicious.
This is one of the recipes they love and that they can double or triple and use as needed. Can be frozen and made ahead too.
This easy lentil-based curry recipe can be made with pigeon pea lentils or toor dal. A combo of pigeon peas and moong dal is also fine.
The general method of making dal is to pressure cook the lentils with water, salt, and turmeric powder until soft and mushy.
In a separate pan, oil or ghee is heated, and the spices are added until they sizzle and release their aroma. This is the tadka or seasoning in this spice mixture you fry the onions etc. the lentils are added and boiled.
You can enjoy this as dal but to raise the bar of your food do the following.
Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro leaves mix. Next, make and add another tadka of garlic and red chilli powder.
Make this dal recipe since as usual, it is
- Easy and quick
- Can be made vegan
- Can be made gluten-free
- Can be paired with rotis or rice
These are the ingredients you will need. For quantities please check the recipe card.
- Yellow lentils or toor dal or arhar dal
- Turmeric powder
- Clarified butter
- Mustard seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Red chillies
- Curry leaves
- Ginger-garlic crush
- Red chilli powder
- Garam masala powder
- Coriander leaves
- Lemon juice
- Rinse the lentils with water 2-3 times. Add 3 cups of water and let the lentils soak for 15-20 minutes. This soaking is optional but soaking the dal helps cook the dal faster and aids digestion.
- Cook your lentils with water and turmeric powder.
- I prefer to cook them in the pressure cooker with my rice. Let it cook for 3-4 whistles. Alternatively, you can cook them in an open pot. Simmer till the lentils are done for 20-25 minutes or till the lentils are well-cooked. Another way is to add the lentils, water and turmeric powder, onions and tomatoes to the pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles. Let the pressure drop naturally.
- In another pan heat the clarified butter. Splutter the mustard seeds, then the cumin seeds. Add the dry red chillies and curry leaves.
- Add the ginger garlic paste and saute till the raw smell goes away.
- Add the finely chopped onions and saute them till light golden brown.
- Add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Use a teaspoon or 2 of water if needed.
- Pour in this mixture of the lentils and mix well.
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes till you get the consistency you like. Add salt and jaggery.
- Add the garam masala powder.
- Add chopped cilantro leaves and lemon juice, and stir well. Cover and set aside for the flavours to mingle.
- Transfer to the serving bowl.
There are times when we need substitutes here are some. Remember however that the taste and texture due to the substitutes will differ. You may need to adjust your seasonings.
- In place of toor dal or arhar dal use moong dal or chana dal either singly or in combination. Chana dal takes a long time to cook keep that in mind.
- If you want a vegan dal use oil like sunflower oil or rice bran oil. I love using groundnut oil. The other oils you can use are olive oil or canola oil.
- If you cannot find curry leaves either fresh or dried skip them. Add a bay leaf in the tempering.
- Dry red chillies are purely decoration here skip them if you do not have them.
- If you want to avoid onion go ahead. But you can always replace them with shallots.
- Nothing can beat fresh tomatoes but in case you do not have them use tamarind paste. I never have canned tomatoes in my place so cannot say how that will taste.
- I skip lemon juice these days you can avoid it. The dal tastes great without it too. I will not use vinegar.
As I said every household has a different way of making Dals. This depends on the region and personal taste. These are suggestions you can vary the tastes as per your mood and make a version you love.
- You can use different kinds of lentils instead of yellow lentils(toor dal), such as split moong dal or split green gram, split Bengal gram or chana dal.
- Even a combination of the lentils is fine.
- Add a tablespoon of well-whipped cream to make Shahi Dal Tadka. You can also coconut milk to the cooked dal at the end. Both will make the dal creamier.
- You girls want a spicer dal so add more red chilli powder and garam masala powder. Add 1-2 green chillies while cooking the dal or in the ginger garlic paste, you will use.
- Tempering varies the dal a lot so vary the tempering. Use cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and ajwain seeds. Add some grated fresh coconut to the dal in the end.
- Make your dal an all-in-one curry and add veggies to it. Chopped spinach, fenugreek leaves, carrots and green peas. Add diced potatoes or pumpkin to the lentils while cooking. Adding veggies will enhance flavour and nutrition.
- Have you considered making the dal sweet sour? Add jaggery and/or tamarind paste a tablespoon each. You can adjust to your taste.
- This is the same dal that I will cook till almost dry and add onions to what we call ghat varan.
- The simpler way of doing it is pressure cooking the onions, and tomatoes with the lentils. Then top the cooked lentils with an aromatic seasoning.
You will need
- Pressure cooker
- Spoons and ladles
How to serve:
- You can serve this dal tadka with rotis, naan, or the Malabar parathas you girls buy.
- Plain steamed rice or jeera rice is also delicious with it. Pair with any salad for a complete meal.
- For a restaurant-like look in oil fry some sliced garlic cloves till brown. Switch off the flame and add the red chilli powder(Kashmiri chilli powder is best here). Pour this oil over the dal.
How to store:
- If you are planning to store the dal cool it fully before transferring it to a clean and dry container. So go ahead and make it before you need it. Adjust the seasoning before use.
- I generally store a steel container that I can heat on the gas stove. Cover with a well-fitting lid so that your refrigerator does not smell.
- if Stored in the refrigerator. Use up the dal tadka within 4 days.
- While consuming the dal reheat the quantity required. Adjust the consistency by adding a little water. Heat on low to medium flame till the dal boils. Stir occasionally to prevent burning and even distribution of heat.
- Now, you can freeze this dal too. Add the cool dal to a smaller freezer-safe container. Remember the dal will expand so do not fill up completely and leave some space. There you can store it for about 3 months.
- To consume the frozen dal move the required packs to the refrigerator overnight. When ready to eat reheat them. Remember do not refreeze these packages.
Some MSK protips to make Dal Tadka :
- The quality of the dal makes the difference. Fresh and good quality lentils cook fast and taste better too.
- Rinse the lentils' reasons are obvious. But after that soak the lentils for at least 30 minutes. In case you do not have 30 minutes soak them in warm water for 15 minutes. Soaking helps the dal to cook faster. It also activates the enzyme Amylase which aids in easier absorption by the body.
- Use fresh ginger, garlic, tomatoes coriander leaves for better flavours.
- Fry the mustard, cumin and red chillies in hot clarified butter or oil till they splutter and are fragrant.
- It seems like a lot of oil/clarified butter but trust me adding tadka, in the end, does give the dal a lovely flavour. Do you add another one occasionally?
- Cover and set the dal aside. This gives the flavours a chance to mingle.
- Garnishing with coriander and lemon juice raises the bar of the dal to a higher level. Try it.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can Dal Tadka be made vegan?
The typical Tarka or tempering for dal tadka is clarified butter or ghee. But you can use oils like sunflower oil or vegetable oil to make the tempering.
Can Dal Tadka be made gluten-free?
Yes, you can make dal gluten-free if you avoid the asafoetida.
Why is dal tadka important in a vegetarian diet?
Dal or lentils are a source of protein for vegetarians. The protein, fibre and carbs provided by rice or roti are an ideal curry. This is especially true when we add veggies to the dal. Low in fat, calories and veggies make it a balanced meal.
Can I use a combination of lentils in Dal Tadka?
Of course, you can. A mixture of masoor dal, split moong dal and toor dal is my favourite way of making dal tadka. You can also use chana dal or Bengal gram lentil to make the dal. These lentils have different cooking times so consider that.
Include lentils in your diet they are full of protein, fibre and vitamins and minerals. A low-calorie curry can be made with veggies you like. Dal Tadka paired with rice or flatbreads and a salad is my favourite meal.
- Pressure cooker
- Spoons and Ladles
- 1 cup pigeon pea lentil or toor dal
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoon ghee or oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1-2 dry red chillies broken into pieces
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 1 onion chopped
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2 tablespoon coriander leaves chopped
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Rinse the lentils with water 2-3 times. Add 3 cups of water and let the lentils soak for 15-20 minutes. This soaking is optional.
- Cook your lentils with water and turmeric powder.I prefer to cook them in the pressure cooker with my rice. Let it cook for 3-4 whistles.
- In a pan heat the clarified butter. Splutter the mustard seeds, then the cumin seeds. Add the dry red chillies and curry leaves.
- Saute the ginger garlic paste till the raw smell goes away.
- Saute the finely chopped onions till light golden brown.
- Add the tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Use a teaspoon or 2 of water if needed.
- Pour in the mashed lentils and mix well.
- Simmer for 5-10 minutes till you get the consistency you like. Add salt and jaggery and garam masala powder.
- Add chopped coriander leaves and lemon juice, and stir well. Cover and set aside for the flavours to mingle.
- Transfer to the serving bowl. Serve with flatbreads or rice.
- You can serve it with rotis, naan, or the Malabar parathas.
- Plain steamed rice or jeera rice, ghee rice is also delicious with it.
- For a restaurant look-alike dal In fry some sliced garlic cloves till brown in oil. Switch off the flame and add Kashmiri chilli powder. Pour this oil over the dal.
- Fresh and good quality lentils cook fast and taste better too.
- Rinse the lentils' reasons are obvious. But after that soak the lentils for at least 30 minutes. When in a hurry soak in warm water for 15 minutes.
- Use fresh ginger, garlic, tomatoes, coriander leaves and lemon juice for better flavours.
- Your tempering of mustard, cumin and red chillies in hot clarified butter or oil must splutter and be fragrant.
- The second tadka is a lot of oil/clarified butter do it occasionally. But the flavours are amazing.
- Cover and set the dal aside for some time. This gives the flavours a chance to mingle.
- Garnish with coriander and lemon juice makes the dal just delicious. Try it.
Nutritional Disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist and make no claims to the contrary. Please check with your nutritionist for your dietary needs and restrictions. Ultimately you are responsible for your decisions.