Tarka Dal

Tarka Dal or Tadka Dahl is a delicious spicy lentil dish that goes well with rice, chapatis or naan bread. This is my own recipe influenced by many different sources.

Makes around 4 servings.


300g Split red lentils, washed well
900ml water
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
5 garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 green chillis, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cm fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons extra hot chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves


1. Bring the water to the boil in a small pan and add the washed lentils, return to the boil and skim any froth off the surface with a spoon. Simmer covered for 30 minutes or until lentils are soft and most of the water is absorbed, add more water if necessary.
2. Blend the tomatoes, garlic and green chillis to make a purée.
3. Heat the oil on a medium heat and check it is hot enough by adding one cumin seed, if it cracks right away the oil is hot enough. Add the rest of the cumin seeds and the asafoetida.
4. After the cumin seeds crack, add the ginger and chopped onions and fry for 5 minutes.
5. Add the tomato/garlic/chilli purée and turmeric,ground coriander and chilli powder and simmer for 15 minutes on a medium heat.
6. Stir in the lentils and garam masala and add salt and black pepper to taste, mix well adding more hot water if necessary and return to the boil.
7. Stir in the fresh coriander leaves and serve with naan or chapatti.

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