Recipe : Dal Tadka

Dal is a staple in most Indian homes. It is comfort food for most people here. I have experimented almost a million times in the quest to perfect this recipe. And I believe, I stand tall with the head of Goliath atop the zenith of culinary conquests as far as this humble dish is concerned. I have tried all complex methods including blending different varieties of dals{lentils} in varying proportions with spices and even smoked them with charcoal etc. But eventually, I bowed down to the hand that rocked the cradle. I realized all the complex procedures couldn’t compete with the simple-yet-delicious prize winner ‘Maa Ke Haath Ka’. As the saying goes, ‘mom knows best’. This is how my mum has been preparing dal since time immemorial and after savouring and experimenting with hundreds of ways, this is by far the best, most efficient, easy, simple and most importantly, ‘tastiest’ dal tadka ever. Ever since I realized that sometimes old is gold, {yes mom, I know you’re reading this. That’s why I specifically used the term ‘sometimes’ πŸ˜‰ } I’ll never make dal any other way ever again. The only thing I do a bit different is – add a lot more garlic because by now you must know, it is by far my favourite savoury ingredient. So let’s get cooking…


  • 5 handfuls or 1 cup tuar Dal
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato, finely chopped
  • salt to taste

Tadka {Tempering}:

  • 2.5tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1.5″ ginger, chopped
  • 2 medium green chilies, chopped
  • 1 full pod garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • a tiny pinch of asafoetida/hing
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi powder


  • Wash the dal well. Add the chopped onion and tomato along with some salt and water {depending on your desired consistency} along with the dal in a pressure cooker.
  • Once the dal is cooked, keep the cooker aside and let the pressure be released naturally after some time. Be a little patient there.
  • Then take a kadhai. Heat it. Pour some oil. Once the oil is hot, add all the ingredients under the heading ‘tempering’ as per the sequence listed above.
  • Pour this tadka over your boiled dal.
  • You could add some small button red chilies{gundu chilies} to the tadka for garnishing.


  1. Do not overcook the dal. The dal must not be pasty or mushy. It must retain some bite.
  2. Please be very light handed with hing. It can be extremely overpowering. If you are not accustomed to this ingredient, count about 7 grains of this dust or even omit it altogether. But, there is no way to salvage dal that has been overpowered with asafoetida.
  3. Many restaurants add an additional tadka atop the dish just before serving which looks great. If you notice, I didn’t use much oil at all. It is really not required unless you want to impress your guests with a lovely garnish.
  4. Cooking time in a pressure cooker will vary based on a lot of factors. Just to give you an estimate, the quality of dal I used to cook in my 3 ltr pressure cooker takes 5 whistles. If I use my 7 ltr Futura that does not whistle, it takes 4.5 minutes after full pressure build up.
  5. There are so many types of lentils that you can use. I prefer 100% tuar dal or pigeon peas. My mom prefers a combination of tuar and split masoor dal or even 100% split moong dal. Choose a dal/combination that you like. But remember, if you’re using split moong dal, it cooks a whole lot quicker than tuar or masoor.
  6. As much as I love ghee and butter and leave no opportunity to cook with these instead of oil, dal tastes much better when made with oil. I have seen many people ruin their dal by using ghee instead. Dal has a very basic PH and is already bland and creamy. Ghee marries well with spicy or acidic ingredients that need to be tamed or toned down and balanced. Cooking dal with ghee just ruins the dal and is a waste of a delicious and expensive ingredient. If you wish you can use an oil with flavour and punch like sesame or mustard. But remember, mustard oil is not appreciated by everyone.
  7. If you wish to consume this with rice, add more water and salt to make the consistency more suitable.
Bon Appetit!

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Wash your dal
Keep your ingredients ready
Ingredients for the tadka
Chop your vegetables
All that goes into the cooker….
I love these ingredients
Please don’t be appalled by the state of my kadhai. It’s been around for generations.
Let the seeds crackle in the hot oil.
Add the curry leaves
And the chopped herbs and spices
Enjoy the intoxicating aromas.
Add the hing and turmeric powder.
Be careful not to burn.
Pour the tadka over and mix well.
Yummy protein-rich dal is ready.
This is what I ate today with chapati. Simple, delicious, quick, easy, healthy comfort food.


    1. A cook off we shall plan then! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰
      Ratatouille, stroganoff, pastries and bakery items…I’ll bow down to you, Collin. but this is a simple dal, yaar. Shame on me if I lose to you here. πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚ Now, I’m hungry for those delicious mouth-watering French desserts….

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re definitely not the average French boy, Collin….since you’re challenging an Indian with your dal. I bow down to your culinary prowess. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
          What’s cooking for dinner today?

          Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand the depth of your observation Fred….it is true in a way….
      Food, culture, all interwoven into our culture and uniqueness….unity within diversity πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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