How To Make Tarka Dal

Tarka Dal, is a traditional Indian dish using spiced butter to flavor lentil soup. The lentils are known as "dal", while the spicy butter mixture is "tarka".

Step 1

Ingredients and supplies:

  • 11 ounces red dal or lentils
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 ounce butter
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Fresh coriander leaves, for garnish
  • Saucepan
  • Frying pan or skillet
  • Spatula
  • Sharp knife
  • Strainer
  • Large spoon

Step 2

Cook the lentils. Place the lentils in a strainer and rinse with cool tap water until the water runs clear. Bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the turmeric and the ground coriander to the boiling water. Then add the lentils. Stir, then let cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The lentils should turn soft, and the water should be frothy.

Step 3

Chop the ingredients. While the lentils are cooking, cut the ends off the onion, and finely chop it. Then remove the skin from 2 cloves of garlic and finely chop them.

Step 4

Prepare the butter. Over medium heat, melt the butter in a frying pan. If you have ghee, or clarified butter, use it instead of regular butter. Then add the cumin seeds and asafetida. Now add the chopped onion and garlic, frying about 6 minutes until the onion starts to brown. Be careful not to burn the garlic, which can add a bad flavor to the butter. Then add the chili powder, and keep stirring. This butter mixture is the "Tarka" part of the Tarka Dal.

Step 5

Combine lentils and butter. Now add the cooked lentils to the butter mixture, frying for another 3-4 minutes to allow time for the lentils to absorb the flavors of the butter and spices. Finally, add the garam masala to the pan, and stir.

Step 6

Enjoy! Take the pan off the heat. Top with a pat of butter, and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Fresh ginger root or chopped tomatoes can also be used as a garnish. Tarka Dal is best served with hot naan bread or Basmati rice.

This classic recipe will serve 2 to 4. There are many variations on this dish, so if you do not have one or two of the spices, just leave them out. You can also leave out a few of the spicier seasonings for a milder dish.


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