Tarka Dal- quick, easy and super yummy recipe in 6 simple steps!

Tarka DaalRed Lentils are the quickest type of lentils to cook, so if you’re short of time or want something quick to eat this is the dal you need!

If you’ve got a handful of red lentils, an onion, a tomato and a few spices you’re pretty much ready to go!

This recipe serves 2 super hungry individuals (i.e. me and my dad) so maybe 4 semi-hungry people. If you need to serve a little more than that just double up the ingredients.


For the Dal:

100g Red Lentils

1/2 tsp Tumeric

For the Tarka:

1tbsp Olive oil

1 tbsp Butter (butter and dal make a fab combination, but its not essential)

1/2 tsp Cumin seeds

1/2 tsp Chilli powder

1/2-1 tsp Salt (to taste, remember add less to begin with, you can always add more later)

1 Onion, diced

2 Tomatos, chopped

2-3 Garlic Cloves (you can add more or less to taste, my dad hates garlic so I had to compromise 😦 )

1 Green Chilli, chopped (optional i.e. if you’re feeling hot hot hot 😎 )

To garnish:

Handful of chopped coriander

1-2 tbsp of fried onions (I bought mine from the shops!)


1. Put the lentils into a medium- sized pan and add water (just enough to cover the lentils), bring the lentils to boil on a medium-high heat. You’ll notice some ‘froth’/gross bubbles of stuff creating a layer at the top, just skim that off and add the turmeric. Then leave to simmer whilst you make the tarka.

2. In a frying pan or small saucepan heat the oil, butter and then add the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds darken add the onion. The onion will go soft and brown on the edges, thats when you can add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute or until the garlic cloves soften. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder and salt.

3. Let the tarka cook for another 10-15 minutes until the tomatoes soften and the contents form a paste/ masala. You’ll notice that the oil separates from the rest of the ingredients within the pan.

4. Now back to the lentils. If you find the lentils have formed a thick mush, just add more water and keep simmering until the lentils are thick or as watery as you like. Tarka dal should generally be in between.

5. Add the tarka to the lentils and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the tarka and lentils have mixed well together. Here you can add the green chilli as well.

6. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Once you’ve put the tarka dal into your serving dish, garnish with fried onions and coriander.


You can eat tarka dal with naan, roti, pitta bread, basmati rice or on its own!

Cucumber raita is also a good accompaniment: 5-6 tbsp yoghurt, splash of milk, 1/4-1/2 tsp salt, 1/4-1/2 tsp chilli powder mix together and then add diced or grated cucumber, give it a good mix and serve!


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