tarka dal recipe
Mains, Sides

‘Oh so smoky’ Tarka Dal

Everyone has their go-to Indian takeaway dishes.

Ours? Tarka Dal.

You can always tell a good Indian restaurant by its Tarka Dal. Done right, it should be a bowl full of tender soup-like lentils with a smooth, smoky flavour – not watery!

Oh, and there needs to be a little bit of floating oil at the top of the dish. But you can always go sans oil if you want a healthier spin on it.

Bone Apple Tea!


Makes a side for 6 or a main for 3


  • 200g yellow chana dal
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 green chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • 5 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp tumeric
  • ½ tsp ground fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds



  1. Set aside the cumin seeds and 1 garlic clove, then add the rest of the ingredients to a medium saucepan.
  2. Bring the pan to a boil and simmer for 1 – 1hr 20 mins, depending on how soft you want the lentils. If it gets too thick, add a touch of extra water.
  3. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat, add the cumin seeds for 1 minute, then set aside. Add the finely sliced garlic and fry until lightly brown – keep an eye on it as it will burn really easily.
  4. Remove the curry leaves from the dal, then pour into a serving dish. Top with the cumin seeds, fried garlic and pour in the remaining oil from the garlic and cumin seed pan.

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