Tarka Dal

School Night Vegan

Tarka Dal Recipe

An intensely aromatic, easy to whip-up Tarka Dal, packed with toasty spices – made almost entirely with store cupboard essentials. Combo with some basmati rice or a soft roti and you’ve got a ready to go week-night dinner!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4


  1. For the Dal:
  2. 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  3. 1 onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  5. 2 tsp ground turmeric
  6. 1 tsp garam masala
  7. 2 tomatoes, finely chopped (or half a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes)
  8. 75g moong dal
  9. 75g red split lentils
  10. 600ml boiling water or vegetable stock
  11. For the Tarka:
  12. 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  13. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  14. 1 dried red chilli
  15. ¼ tsp chilli powder
  16. ¼ tsp asafoetida
  17. 4 curry leaves
  18. ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
  19. 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely sliced


To Make the Dal:

  1. Place a medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the vegetable oil. Bring to temperature before adding the onion and frying for a few minutes. Do not allow the onion to brown.
  2. Add the garlic and fry for a further few minutes before adding the turmeric, garam masala and tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until the tomatoes start to lose their shape. Add the dal/lentils along with the boiling water or vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer before covering and turning the heat to low.
  3. Allow the dal to cook for a total of 20-30 minutes, removing the lid to stir regularly. The dal is done when the lentils are completely soft but still hold their shape slightly.
  4. Season with sea salt to taste.

To Make the Tarka:

  1. Add the oil to a small saucepan or frying pan and place over a medium low heat. Once the oil is hot, add all the remaining ingredients except the garlic. Stirring constantly, fry the spices for around a minute – do not allow them to burn.
  2. Once the spices are fried and the oil has taken on a slight red hue from the chilli, add the garlic and fry very briefly before removing from the heat and spooning over the cooked dal. Serve with some fresh coriander and some basmati rice or roti (optional).

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