Sunday, November 16, 2014

Traditional dal tadka recipe

Image courtesy: Wikipidea

Dal (lentil) tadka is a traditional Indian staple dish which uses different variety of lentils mixed together or one single lentil for preparing a thick soup like. Tadka is a way of cooking lentils and other dishes where whole spices and herbs are first added to hot oil and then the Dal and other ingredients are mixed. This method of cooking adds a unique flavor to the dish and makes it delightful to taste. Dal tadka is a very popular staple dish in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It can be consumed with steamed white rice or Indian bread. The lentils used in this recipe are full of proteins, dietary fibers and iron and the spices and herbs add flavor as well as healthy nutrients to the dish.

The below recipe uses split yellow mung; which is the inside part of what the English call as green bean. Once the skin is removed the bean becomes yellow in color. It is a flavorful dish with a lot of spices and serves four.


Yellow split mung dal: 1 ½ cup
Water: 3-4 cups
Onion: 1 large, chopped
Green Chili: 2 slit horizontally
Tomato: 1 large, chopped
Garlic: 4 fat cloves, crushed
Salt: 1 tablespoon
Turmeric: ½ tablespoon
Cumin powder: ¼ tablespoon
Coriander powder: ¼ tablespoon
Garam Masala: ¼ tablespoon (blend of spices like cardamon(black and green), cinnamon, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg and mace.) 

Whole Garam Masala

Dried Red Chili: 2
Whole cumin seeds: ¼ teaspoon
Whole peppercorns: 4 
Fennel seeds: ¼ teaspoon
Clove: 2
Cinnamon: ¼ inch
Vegetable/refined oil: 4 tbsp
Ghee /clarified butter (optional): 1 tablespoon
Fresh Coriander leaves: for garnish
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Wash and soak the mung dal for about 20 minutes. Take a deep pan, put on medium heat and add oil. Now add all the whole spices Рdried red chili, cumin, peppercorns, fennel seeds, clove and cinnamon and fry till they start blasting. Add onions and saut̩ till golden and add green chili and crushed garlic. After they are fried, add tomatoes and the salt, turmeric, cumin powder, garam masala, coriander powder and fry in low heat till the mixture becomes soft and leaves water.

Drain the water from the soaked dal and add the dal to the mixture and fry for a couple of minutes. Now transfer the entire ingredients to a deep pressure cooker, add water and let it cook till 4-5 whistles. Remove from heat and check if the dal is mashed well. You can use a masher to mash the dal for proper texture. If the consistency is thin then reduce the water content by cooking for some extra minutes without covering. Add the ghee and garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis. (Indian flat bread).  

Tips: You can reduce the fat content by eliminating the ghee from the recipe.

You can use fresh curry leaves for the garnish. Adding a little lime juice or tamarind will give the dal a tangy flavor. The spices used can also be varied according to choice, for e.g. the peppercorns can be replaced with mustard seeds etc.

The above recipe can be prepared in a different way by pressure cooking the dal separately and then adding to the tadka. Feel free to use whichever method seems convenient.


  1. We have a store in the city that sells pre-made Indian foods. I buy 3 pkgs. of each meal and try them all. Most of the meals are very spicy but I love the flavor and am forever attempting to dial down the spiciness. Any ideas? Thanks! :)

  2. Hi Mimi. Thanks for reading. Well, to bring the spiciness down you can try adding a bit of water when you are heating and boil to reduce the volume. Alternatively you can add bread pieces when heating your food. Be careful to check the salt because both methods will reduce the salt content. Lemme know if it helped :) Bon Apetit!!

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  4. Looks fantastic. Have to try your version.

  5. Thanks Mallee. Please let me know if you liked it :)