dal tadka

Dal Tadka Recipe

By Swasthi on June 30, 2022, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Dal tadka is a comforting, flavorful and hearty Indian lentil dish. This super flavorsome & delicious homemade dal tadka rivals any Indian restaurant! One bite of this and you are sure to agree that making delicious restaurant quality food at home is simpler than you think. Made with pantry ingredients, this easy lentil dish is one of the best you can make for a simple vegetarian Indian meal.

dal tadka

For vegetarian Indians dal is a vital source of protein & nourishment. And the same for non-vegetarians too, it is a supplementary source. In either case, lentils are served with almost every meal in Indian households. So to keep it exciting, we cook lentils in numerous ways and this dal takda is one of them.

About Dal Tadka

Dal tadka is a popular Indian dish where cooked spiced lentils are finished with a tempering made of ghee/ oil and spices. In Hindi, the word ‘Dal’ means ‘lentils’ and Tadka means ‘tempering’. So dal tadka means lentils finished with a tempering, at the end.

Also known as Tarka daal, this is immensely popular in the Indian restaurants. Served with butter naan, tandoori roti, steamed basmati or jeera rice, this is a treat for many Indian food lovers.

Dal actually refers to any kind of lentils. It may be whole or split, with or without the skin. Various lentils may be used to make dal tadka, the most popular version uses toor dal also known as arhar dal or split pigeon peas in English.

Sometimes it is also mixed with masoor dal (red lentils) or even with moong dal (Skinned split mung lentils). Some people also use the whole lentils, each version has its own flavor and taste.

But when you see the name dal tadka, most often it refers to the skinned version of the dal, and is yellow in color. So it is also known as yellow dal tadka.

This kind of lentil dish is prepared almost in every part of India but with regional tastes and variations. So every household may have a different way of tempering and cooking the dal as well.

My Dal Tadka Recipe

My recipe will help you make a special dal tadka, packed with layers and layers of amazing flavors. Combining certain kinds of lentils will not only enhance the taste, flavor and nutrition but also does a real magic to the dish like this dal fry.

So this recipe uses 3 different kinds of lentils for taste, flavor and texture. While toor dal forms the base, moong dal is used for a thicker texture and chana dal for a unique flavor.

To further enhance the taste and flavor, the cooked dal is smoked which adds another layer of flavor to the dish as the smokiness tantalizes your taste buds even further.

The final tempering, made with pure ghee, is used as a garnish. This adds a pop of color, texture, and flavor to the dal.

Sometimes I make the simplest dal tadka by dumping every thing in the cooker & then tempering it. I have shown that in my masoor dal post. But this special dal tadka is always a huge hit in my home, especially with my boys. I am sure you will all love this too.

How To Make Dal Tadka (Stepwise Photos)

Cooking dal

If you do not have a cooker, scroll down to find the instructions to cook in a pot. I have used the Indian stovetop cooker here but have also added the instructions for Instant pot.

1. Add 1 cup dal to a pressure cooker. I use ¾ cup toor dal, ¼ cup moong dal & 2 tablespoons chana dal. You can use only toor dal if you want. Feel free to replace moong dal with masoor dal or toor dal and skip chana dal. But you know the combo I mentioned gives you the best.

dal in a pressure pan

2. Rinse them well at least 4 times, rubbing with your fingers. You should see the water clear during your last rinse.

rinsed dal in a cooker ready to cook

3. Add 3 cups fresh water and close the cooker. Pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles on a medium heat. You may need to cook for more whistles depending on your cooker. If using Instant pot, cook for 10 minutes on a high pressure.

pressure cooking dal

Make masala

4. While the dal cooks, make the first tempering. In a medium pan, heat 1½ to 2 tablespoons oil, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and fry lightly until they begin to splutter.

cumin seeds in hot oil

5. Add 1 tablespoon fine chopped garlic and ginger (equal quantities). Fry them lightly until aromatic. Do not brown.

fry ginger garlic in oil

6. Then add ⅓ to ½ cup fine chopped onions & 1 green chilli (slit or chopped). You may skip the chilli if you intend to serve kids. Fry till the onions are translucent, stirring from time to time.

add chopped onions for dal tadka

7. Reduce the heat. Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric, ½ to ¾ teaspoon red chilli powder and ½ teaspoon garam masala. Stir through well.

ground spices for dal tadka

8. Add ¾ to 1 cup deseeded and fine chopped tomatoes. Also add 1 teaspoon salt.

tomatoes and salt in a pan

9. Sauté till tomatoes are softened. If you want you can also saute for 2 to 3 mins and then cook covered.

mushy tomatoes and onions

10. Meanwhile check if the dal is done in your pressure cooker. Let the pressure drop on its own, then open the cooker. Dal has to be soft cooked and mushy. This is the texture you get to see. Toor dal and moong dal is almost mushy but chana dal has some texture. Stir and mash lightly, we don’t want the chana dal to be completely dissolved.

soft cooked lentils waiting for tadka

11. At this stage, you may add some hot boiling water to the dal to adjust the consistency, as required. I had to pour about ¾ to 1 cup.

add hot water if required

12. When the onion tomato mixture is ready, add it to the cooked dal & mix.

add onion tomato mixture to dal

13. Simmer for 6 to 7 minutes so that flavors blend. Bring it to the consistency you want at this stage. Also note that dal will become thick upon cooling. I prefer an almost runny consistency. Taste test and add more salt if required. Also crush 1 tablespoon kasuri methi in between your palms and add it to the hot boiling dal. Give a good mix and add coriander leaves. I forgot to add the coriander leaves here. Turn off the heat.

kasuri methi and salt

Optional – Smoke the dal (Dhungar)

14. This step is optional and you may skip this. For the restaurant flavors you have to smoke the dal. Place a small tall steel cup in the center of the pot. With a tong, hold a piece of wood coal over direct fire, like a candle or a lighter until a little portion of the coal becomes red and hot. This takes less than 2 minutes. Carefully place that in the cup. Pour half teaspoon ghee over the hot coal. You will see smoke immediately.

coal in steel cup smoking dal before tadka

15. Cover the pot with a lid. Let the dal smoke for about 3 to 4 minutes. Then remove the cup from the dal and transfer to a serving bowl.

cover the pot

Make tadka

16. In a small pan melt 2 tablespoons ghee. Add ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds and sauté over low heat until aromatic.

cumin seeds in ghee for tadka

17. Mix in 2 whole dried red chilies.

fry red chilies in ghee for dal tadka

18. Add ½ to 1 tablespoon fine chopped garlic and fry lightly until aromatic. Do not brown the garlic as it can taste bitter.

frying garlic in hot ghee

19. Mix in ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida and ⅓ teaspoon red chilli powder. Immediately remove from heat.

red chilli powder in tadka

20. Pour the hot tadka over the dal. Garnish dal tadka with coriander leaves before serving.

dal tadka recipe

Serving suggestions

This dal tadka pairs very well with any kind of roti, chapati, paratha, butter naan or plain steamed rice. At home we often serve this with Jeera rice or ghee rice. There is no hard and fast rule and you can make the dal of the consistency you want. Some people prefer to make a somewhat thinner version to eat with rice, whereas with rotis, the thicker version is preferred.

It is often served with a dry or almost dry curried vegetable dish, papad, pickle, salad like this kachumber and some cut lemon. Simple jeera aloo goes well with this dal, though you can make any kind of vegetable or mixed vegetable dishes with it.

Some people prefer to have a basic dal rice or dal roti meal without anything else except perhaps accompaniments like papad, pickle, and sliced onions. It is a complete and nutritionally rich meal and a comfort food for many and a staple in Indian diets. So experiment & serve with what you like.

Dal tadka in a pot

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can make this lentil dish in a stockpot or saucepan – just use a deep one. For this method, it is best to soak the dal in water for at least 15-30 minutes or longer. This will shorten the cooking time. Strain the dal before cooking it, discarding the soaking water.

  • Put the dal to boil in 4 cups water in a pan.
  • Let it come to a boil over high heat.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The dal will take time, depending on how long you have soaked it.
  • You may need to add more water to replenish the water that has boiled off.
  • Remove any scum that forms on top of the dal and discard it.
  • Once the dal is soft and mushy, remove from heat.
  • Mash dal if required.
  • And follow the rest of the directions as above.

Related Recipes

Recipe card

dal tadka

Dal Tadka Recipe

Dal tadka is a comforting, flavorful and hearty Indian lentil dish. This super flavorsome & delicious homemade dal tadka rivals any Indian restaurant!
Pin Recipe Print Recipe

For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings4
AuthorSwasthi
Diet : Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • ¾ cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • ¼ cup moong dal (substitute with masoor dal or toor dal)
  • 2 tablespoons chana dal (bengal gram, optional)
  • 3 cups water for cooking dal
  • ¾ to 1 cup hot water to adjust the consistency
  • 1½ to 2 tablespoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic fine chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger fine chopped
  • 1 medium onion (⅓ to ½ cup fine chopped)
  • 1 green chilli (chopped, optional)
  • 2 medium tomatoes (¾ to 1 cup deseeded, fine chopped)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to adjust)
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon coriander leaves (fine chopped, more for garnish)
  • 1 medium lemon (for serving)

For tadka

  • 2 tablespoons ghee (oil for a vegan dish)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon garlic fine chopped (I use 1 tbsp)
  • teaspoon hing (asafoetida) (or gluten-free hing)
  • teaspoon red chilli powder

Instructions

Cooking dal

  • Add lentils to a pot or pressure cooker and rinse them very well with lots of water. Rub the lentils well with your hand while you rinse. Drain completely.
  • Pour water and pressure cook the dal on a medium heat for 3 to 4 whistles. To cook in instant pot, pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. To cook in pot check my notes below.
  • When the pressure drops naturally, open the lid. Dal should have been soft cooked.
  • Lightly mash keeping the chana dal intact. Add more water as required to bring to consistency.
  • While the lentils cook, to a medium pan pour oil and heat it. Add cumin seeds to the hot oil.
  • They will begin to splutter, then add ginger garlic and saute on a low heat until fragrant.
  • Add onions and green chilies. Fry them until slightly golden.
  • Reduce the heat. Add red chilli powder, turmeric and garam masala. Give a quick stir.
  • Stir in the tomatoes along with salt. Saute until the tomatoes become soft. The mixture begins to smell good at this stage.
  • Transfer this to the cooked dal and simmer for about 6 to 7 minutes. Taste test and add more salt at this stage. Then add kasuri methi and give the boiling dal a good stir. Add coriander leaves and turn off the heat.

Smoking dal (Dhungar, optional)

  • Place a tall steel cup in the center of the pot. With a tong hold a wood coal over direct fire like a candle or lighter until a portion of it becomes red and hot. This will take about 2 minutes.
  • Place this gently into the cup and pour ½ teaspoon ghee directly over the hot coal. It will begin to release smoke. Quickly cover the pot and let the dal smoke for 3 to 4 minutes.

Make tadka

  • Transfer the hot cooked lentils to a serving bowl. Pour 2 tbsps ghee to a small pan & heat it on a medium heat.
  • Add cumin seeds and let them fry on a low heat until aromatic.
  • Next add red chilies and give a good stir. Add garlic and fry until light and aromatic. Do not brown.
  • Stir in asafoetida and red chili powder. Quickly remove from heat and pour the tadka over the dal.
  • Garnish dal tadka with coriander leaves. Squeeze some lemon juice over the dal while serving. Serve with rice, roti, paratha, naan, jeera rice or ghee rice.

Notes

  • To cook in a pot, simply soak the lentils for at least 15 to 30 minutes. Drain the water and pour 4 cups of fresh water. Let it come to a boil over high heat. Then simmer for 20-30 minutes. If required add more hot water. Remove any scum that forms on top of the dal and discard it. Turn off the heat when they are soft and mushy. Follow the rest of the recipe.
 

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Dal Tadka Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 351 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Trans Fat 1g
Cholesterol 19mg6%
Sodium 619mg27%
Potassium 805mg23%
Carbohydrates 43g14%
Fiber 19g79%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 716IU14%
Vitamin C 59mg72%
Calcium 77mg8%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Dal Tadka Recipe

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.

Follow Swasthi’s Recipes

Recipe Rating




38 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

5 stars
This is a delicious recipe and I keep coming back to it often. Though a little elaborate I make this often because my husband loves it. I recently bought a Instant pot and have also made may lentil recipes from your website. I would appreciate if you can let me know how to make this dal tadka in the Instant pot. Thank you for all the wonderful work you do to feed us!

5 stars
NICE RECIPE….

5 stars
This is the first time I have tried a recipe from a food blog. For a long time I have been cooking from YouTube and insta with little success. I am extremely impressed with the outcome and must appreciate you for the comprehensive write up. This dal tadka tasted delicious and my husband says this is the best dal. I am excited to try more of your recipes. Thank you and good wishes for everything you do.

I haven’t made this recipe yet, but that is a BRILLIANT way to add smokiness to any dish

5 stars
This looks amazing and is according to all of the great reviews! I will be making this recipe for a family dinner this weekend. How far ahead can you make it (both dal and tadka)? How long will it last if refrigerated?

5 stars
I’m enjoying my dal tadka as I write this! I am not new at cooking Indian food, so I am very pleased with the taste of this dish. Overall very delicious than my previous attempts to make a restaurant quality dal. This is perfectly spiced and tastes amazing. I use my instant pot to cook the lentils so that makes it easy and quick. Next making your dal makhani & yeast-free naan. Thank you for the authentic recipes.

5 stars
Wonderful recipe. Easy to make in the instant pot

5 stars
Thanks for all your recipes. I’ve made Dal for years, but could never get it to taste like Tarka Dal from an Indian Resturant. Until your recipe! I even bought the Kasuri Meth, and it does add to the aroma and taste.

Thank you for the recipes. I have tried a lot of them and have turned out yummy every time. Please help my toor dal dish taste bitter. I tried tasting the dried lentils that are uncooked but they taste okay. It turns bitter after cooking. What am I doing wrong?

5 stars
You recipes are all so delicious! Thank you so much.

Unfortunately the printing pages are not economical and too much ink usage, and do not allow the flexibility of changing the print format.

5 stars
Thank you! 😋 tadka dal. My husband is allergic to chana dal so I left out. Still turned out delicious. Also made your broccoli chutney which was equally good

5 stars
Swasthi, love your vegetarian recipes. I have tried a lot of them. Is there a way to make this in Ip and will it taste the same. Thank you

5 stars
This is the First time made a recipe from your blog. I must say this is the best dal I ever made. Prefect amount of spices. My family is in love with this. 🙏 will be trying your recipe now on

5 stars
Thank you for the wonderful recipes. My dal tadka was fantastic. Served it with frozen naans. My Indian husband couldn’t stop appreciating. Will e trying more recipes from you.

5 stars
I am a forced bachelor trying to cook for myself. Made this dal tadka and it was very tasty. I specifically love the way you explain in a easy way. I didn’t have charcoal so didn’t smoke but would love to do it if you can provide a link to any particular brand

5 stars
Hello Swasthi,
We tried your dal tadka recipe. It came out very good. But forgot to add green chilli as you did not mention. Thank you.

5 stars
Hi Swathi,
This is a great recipe! I did have a question about the calories per serving though. According to the estimated break up, Amount Per Serving refers to the entire quantity made? Or how much exactly is a serving?

5 stars
Thank you Swasthi.
This is an amazing recipe and it tasted so delicious. We served it with ghee rice and the combo was fab. Bookmarking this forever!

5 stars
Namaste Swasthi,
My family loves your recipes and have tried many of your Indian dishes.Thank you for sending all the lovely recipes. This daal looks fantastic.
Much love from all of us
Aisah