This recipe was created by my partner Anthony O’Neill — it is DAAL-icious so I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Dal, Daal, Dhal, or Dahl (so many spellings) is a term used in Southern Asia for split pulses, or in this case lentils, that don’t require pre-soaking.
As someone who is vegetarian and frequents Indian restaurants regularly my meal always includes Tarka Daal, so I was pleased to find that it is a rather simple dish to prepare at home.
Much like its spelling, there are several ways to create a Daal. Some recipes follow a ‘how my mother makes it’ traditional style, whereas others go for a fancy restaurant-style or a fast convenient method.
The approaches tend to differ based on:
- The types of lentils used.
- How the lentils are prepared i.e. soaking, cleaning, cooking the lentils separately in a pressure cooker etc.
- The types of fat used — Ghee is the preferred choice in most authentic recipes and usually the tastiest option!
- how watery/soupy you want it.
- And of course, the mix of spices.
I will be focusing on convenience as this recipe is a simple place to start for fellow daal lovers. So apologies to anyone from South Asia who reads this. Forgive me. Please. If you’re looking for a more authentic approach or even a strictly vegan recipe then check out the links at the end of this post.
This isn’t a recipe I follow religiously. I eyeball a lot of it and adjust things based on my preference and what is available in my kitchen at the time, so feel free to do the same.
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1 white onion
- Cooking fat (vegetable oil, olive oil, butter, or ghee) ~1 tbsp
- Chilli flakes (to your preference)
- Turmeric powder ~1 tsp
- Cumin powder ~1 tsp
- Garam masala (1 tsp of masala paste or ~2 tsp of powder)
- Coriander (aka Cilantro for North Americans & Spanish) fresh or frozen
- ~250g of red split lentils
- Tin of chopped tomatoes
- ~250ml of milk or cream (use you preferred amount, I usually use whatever milk I have available i.e. Soya or Coconut)
- ~300ml of boiling water (depends on how watery you want it)
Other common daal ingredients that I usually omit either due to preference or availability:
- Ground coriander / Dhaniya powder
- Cumin seeds
- Finely chop your onion and garlic.
- Heat your saucepan on a low-to-medium heat and add your oil.
- Place your chopped onion and garlic into the saucepan.
- Add your chilli, turmeric, cumin, and garam masala and stir into the onions and garlic.
- Whilst that cooks and softens, place your lentils into a sieve and rinse with water.
- Place rinsed lentil into saucepan and stir.
- Add tinned tomatoes, milk, boiling water and stir.
- If you’re using frozen coriander I usually added it here, if fresh I add it when serving.
- Stir well and place the lid on your pan, increase the heat so it is lightly simmering for ~30 minutes or until the lentils have softened.
- Serve with rice, naan or roti and some extra vegetables. If you need to tone down the spice, you can serve with a dollop of plain natural yogurt or mix this into the daal itself.
And that’s it! Please remember to cook this to preference so be sure to taste as you go along. Enjoy!
Other Daal Recipes
Michelin Star Indian Chef Reveals How To Make The Perfect Dal:
Restaurant Style Dal Tadka Recipe – Authentic Easy & Tasty Daal:
Vegan Daal & Roti Recipe:
Making Indian Daal with Prema: