Dal Tadka is one of the most common Indian lentil stew. It is available in almost all Indian restaurants. Lentil stew is consumed on a daily basis in every Indian household. And it switches from light lentil soup in summer to rich and thick ghee laden Tadka dal in winter.
I am not a big fan of Dal, but I do have a few favorites. Dal Tadka with jeera rice (cumin flavored white rice) and a few slices of cucumber for the refreshing bite in between.
Dal in India is lentil stew and Tadka is tempering.
Prepared with three variety of lentils, Dal Tadka is thick in texture. You temper it with ghee and whole spices, making it utterly comforting at every spoonful.
There are different versions of this dal recipe!
What variety of Lentils to use in Dal Tadka?
For this recipe, you can use any variety of lentil that you have stocked in your pantry.
A good combination is choosing lentils of different texture. You get that thick, creamy consistency of the dal. Using masoor (red lentils), chana (Bengal Gram) and yellow split mung daal does that magic.
How to make Dal Tadka
Dal Tadka for me is a specialty and a weekend indulgence when I don't mind the extra calorie intake.
You start by boiling the daal.
While the dal is cooking, you make some fried onion. This step is completely optional, as you will use fried onion as a garnish, but caramelized onion adds a rich sweetness to the daal that you will love!
Next you sauté the onion, tomato with garlic and few other regular spices, then add the boiled daal and mix it around. Avoid whisking the daal too much. You want a good texture and not too smooth like soup.
Dal Tadka Ingredients ?
The tempering is the best part of this Dal Recipe.
You prepare it with ghee and not oil. Please use ghee as the flavor comes from there and oil will not give that rich aroma.
- Sliced ginger for the pungent bites in between. You don't need to add this as a mandate. This is optional.
- Fresh Green chili for the mild heat. Just trim the edge and not finely chopped, unless you want a good doze of heat in your dal.
- Sliced garlic
- Asafoetida (hing)
- Cumin Seeds for the earthy aroma
- Thinly sliced garlic - this makes tadka dal extra special, aromatic.
- Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- Dagar ka phool (stone flower) - It gives a warm umami flavor. Again, this spice is optional.
- Kashmiri Chili powder for the gorgeous red shine on the tadka.
The tadka is added right at the end before serving the dal.
Using the Dhungar Method (Adding the smoking flavor to the Dal)!
Dhungar Method is often used in rich lentil stews and curries to add the charcoal smoky flavor to the dish. It's optional!
In this method, you heat up just one charcoal in an open fire and then place it in a heatproof tiny container. Place that container on the prepared dal and pour a little ghee on that hot charcoal.
It will smoke up, cover the dal and leave aside for 5 minutes.
Then remove the small container, add the tadka to the dal and serve right away.
The smoky charcoal will add the tandoor-like flavor to the dal.
If you never made Dal Tadka before that, it's time to change that. With the nip in the air, it's the right time to enjoy a giant bowl of this dal with rice or your choice of bread.
It's utterly comforting and make your warm inside out.
- ½ cup Masoor dal (red lentils)
- ¼ cup chana dal (bengal gram)
- ¼ cup split yellow mung dal (yellow split mung beans)
- 2 onions (6oz each (1 for fried onion as garnish))
- 1 red tomato (6 oz)
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and garlic
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon coriander powder
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon oil
for the tadka
- ½ inch fresh ginger (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
- ¼ cup ghee
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon kashmiri chili powder
- ½ teaspoon asafoetida
- 2 small bay leaves
- 2 green chili (trim the edges or finely chopped)
- ½ teaspoon kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- ½ teaspoon dagar ka phool (stone flower - optional)
- Wash the lentils in multiple change of water and then boil the dal with little salt.
- If you are using fried onion as garnish, then thinly slice one red onion and deep-fry in medium hot oil, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Keep aside once done.
- Once the dal is boiled, finely chop 1 onion and finely chop 1 tomato.
- In a heavy bottom pan, pour the oil and when it heats up add the chopped onion along with ginger garlic finely chopped. Season with salt, add the turmeric and rest of ground spices. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the onion is softened.
- Then add the tomato and continue cooking until it's softened.
- Pour the boiled dal and mix it around. Do not whisk too much. You want the dal to have little texture, and the consistency should be thick.
- At this point, if you want to smoke your dal with charcoal, you can do that step (read the details in notes below)
- Layer the fried onion on the dal.
- To prepare the tadka, take a small pan and add the ghee. Once the ghee warms, add the spices (except chili powder) mentioned under tadka, including the ginger and garlic. Let it sizzle for a few seconds.
- Switch off the heat and mix the kashmiri chili to the smoking hot tadka.
- Let it sizzle for a couple seconds, and then drizzle the tadka all over the daal. Garnish with some chopped cilantro leaves and enjoy the daal with rice or bread.