Tarka dhal

Tarka dhal

By
From
The Curry Guy
Serves
4 or more as part of a multi-course meal

This has to be one of the most ordered side dishes at Indian restaurants. Personally, I feel the meal just isn’t complete without a good tarka dhal. A ‘tarka’ is a mixture of spices and/or aromatics that are tempered in oil or ghee. This mixture is then poured over the cooked dhal just before serving. So the channa dhal is actually a tarka dhal too.

For this quick and easy version, I use masoor dhal (split small red lentils), which, unlike other lentils, need only to be washed and rinsed under cold water before cooking. You can also use the finished tarka dhal in my chicken dhansak instead of plain dhal.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
250g masoor dhal, rinsed
3 tablespoons ghee
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 onion, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Put the dhal into a pan and pour over about 400ml water. Simmer over a medium-high heat for about 25 minutes until tender, removing any foam that forms on the top.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the ghee in a frying pan and add the curry leaves, cumin seeds and cinnamon stick. Stir this all up so that the ghee soaks up the flavour of the spices. Add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes until light brown. Add the garlic, garam masala and turmeric, and sizzle until the garlic is soft.
  3. Season the cooked dhal with salt and pepper, then pour the ghee mixture (the tarka) over the lentils to serve.
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