Tarka Dhal

Tarka DhalDhal is perhaps the unsung hero of Indian cuisine. All too often dismissed as a poor man’s curry or a dreary side dish, dhal is in fact so much more. Nutritious, simple and varied, dhal deserves to feature in any Indian meal. Personally, I could happily tuck into just a bowl of dhal and rice!

This recipe is dhal in its purest form. Flavoured with turmeric and seasoned with a tarka, this dhal recipe is delightfully simple and incredibly tasty.

The recipe uses two different types of dhal, red and yellow, but feel free just use 150g of either.

Unlike curries, dhal is best eaten on the same day it is made.

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Tarka Dhal

  • 75g red lentils
  • 75g yellow lentils
  • 900ml water
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, lightly crushed
  • 2 dried chillis
  • 6 curry leaves


  1. Combine the lentils into a pot and rinse a couple of times, drain.
  2. Place pot on a high heat and add the 900ml of water and the turmeric
  3. Cover pot and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce to a medium heat and partially cover the pot, simmer for 45 -60 minutes and stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from sticking
  5. Take off the heat once the lentils have broken down and formed a thick dhal.
  6. Add the salt and cover the pot

For the tarka:

  1. In a small frying pan heat up the vegetable oil
  2. Once hot, add the whole garlic cloves and fry until slightly golden
  3. Add the chillis, cumin seeds and lastly, the curry leaves
  4. Fry for 30 seconds and then tip the seasoned oil into the dhal pot, stir and immediately cover with the lid
  5. Leave for a while to allow the flavours to mingle
  6. Gently reheat before serving

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