Tarka Dal


A quick and easy Indian lentil dish.


  • 200g yellow lentils, Toovar or chana, soaked in cold water for 1 hour
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, split lengthways and seeds removed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 dried chillies, broken up
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh corriander leaves, chopped


  1. Drain the dal and put in a large saucepan. Cover with water, 4 cm above the line of the dal.
  2. Add tomatoes, onion, green chillies, garlic, and turmeric.
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on which dal you are using.
  4. When the dal is cooked, but retains a slight bite, heat some more oil in a pan over a medium heat.
  5. Add the mustard seeds, shallots, dried chillies and curry leaves.
  6. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes till the shallots are soft and golden.
  7. Put the dal in a serving dish, pour over the tarka, sprinkle the coriander and serve.


Tarka is a mixture of spices that are fried in very hot oil and poured, sizzling on top of a dal dish. In this recipe the tarka ingredients are the mustard seeds, shallots, dried chillis and curry leaves.

Photo Credit: Jonny Hughes @jonny2love
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