How To Make Tarka Dal

Dal or lentil dish is one of the staple diets in the subcontinent. It has many varieties, but the most famous one is the red lentil dish, or ‘lal masoor dal’. The dish is very easy to make, and the best part is that you do not need to add too many ingredients, with the natural flavour of this lentil being so palatable. However one thing that can really enhance its aroma and texture is tarka.

Tarka is nothing but additions of spices roasted in oil, preferably butter, to season the lentil dish. The melted butter and the spices add to the flavour and also make it rich in texture.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 33 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes
Serving Size: 4 – 6 persons
Utensils: One frying pan, a spatula, sharp knife and a teaspoon


– 300 g red dal or lentils
– 850 ml water
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 1/4 tsp ground coriander
– 30 g butter
– 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
– 1/4 tsp asafoetida
– 1 medium onion
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1/4 tsp chilli powder
– 1/2 tsp garam masala
– 15-20 g of fresh coriander leaves


  • 1

    The tarka dal is very easy to cook. The first step is to ensure that the lentil is clear of all the dirt particles. The recommended method is to spread the required amount of lentil in a tray and then pick the visible dust particles by hand. Appropriate light is required for this. After this, put the lentil into a sieve and rinse thoroughly under a tap.

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  • 2

    Take a non-stick pan and boil the water in it. When the water starts to simmer put the lentil inside and follow it with the mentioned amounts of turmeric and ground coriander. The mixture is then left on heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Stir occasionally, and turn off the heat once the lentils become soft.

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  • 3

    While the lentil cooks, prepare your tarka ingredients i.e. a medium onion and 2 cloves of garlic in finely chopped form. Melt the butter in a pan and add the mentioned amounts of cumin seeds along with asafoetida. Now add the onion and garlic and make them golden brown. The last step is to add some chilli powder.

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  • 4

    Take some of the cooked lentil and put into the pan so that all the flavour gets absorbed. Now pout the mixture back to the lentil pan. Add some Garam Masala and top the dal with a knob of butter.

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