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Indian dal tadka

Published on main, ahead



  • 1–2 cups of rinsed lentils (mix different types of lentils for a more diverse texture)
  • 0.5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 3.5 cups water
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 inch ginger, crushed
  • 1 green chili, crushed
  • 1.5 tbsp ghee (or oil)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped (or tomato puree / paste)
  • 0.5 tsp coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • ¼ tsp red chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
  • 2 carrots or other veggies, dicedoptional

Tempering (tadka)

  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • ¼ tsp hing also known as asafoetidaoptional
  • ¼ tsp red chili powderoptional



  1. Crush 4 large garlic cloves, 1-inch ginger and 1 green chili in a mortar pestle and set it aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom pan, heat 2 tsp ghee on medium heat. Once hot, add the 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tbsp crushed coriander seeds and 2 cloves. Saute for few seconds until fragrant.
  3. Then add onions, cook for around 3 to 4 minutes until they are soft and start changing color.
  4. Add the crushed garlic-ginger-green chili. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the raw smell goes away.
  5. Add the optional carrots, chopped tomatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix. Cover and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until tomatoes are very soft and cooked.
  6. Then add the 0.5 tsp coriander powder, ¼ tsp garam masala, ¼ tsp red chili powder, and 2 tbsp cilantro. Stir the spices with the masala for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the raw 1–2 cups lentils to the pot with 3 cups water, 0.5 tsp turmeric powder, and 1.5 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. The texture should be more liquid than your ideal version as the mixture thickens as it cools down.

Tempering (Tadka)

  1. Heat 2 teaspoons ghee in a small pan. Once the ghee is hot, add 2 chopped garlic cloves. Also add hing and dried red chilies.
  2. Cook for one minute until the garlic starts changing color. Add kashmiri red chili powder, remove pan from heat.
  3. Pour tempering over the dal and mix.
  4. Optional but recommended: For the dhungar method, place a steel bowl on top of a trivet placed inside the dal. Then heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until it's red hot.
  5. Place hot charcoal in that steel bowl on top of the trivet. Pour melted ghee (around 1 tablespoon) on top of charcoal. You will immediately see fumes coming out of charcoal.
  6. Immediately close the pan with a lid. Let it remain like this for 5 to 10 minutes. After 5 to 10 minutes, remove lid and remove the bowl from dal.
  7. The longer you keep the lid closed, the smokier dal will get, so don't do more than 10 minutes.
  8. Garnish dal tadka with more cilantro and serve!

Adapted from this original recipe