Dal Tadka is a famous Indian lentil dish made with arhar dal (shelled and split pigeon pea lentils) or masoor dal (peeled and split red lentils).
In this article, I am sharing 2 versions of the recipe.
- Restaurant Style Dal Tadka – Made on a stove top with an optional smoking method.
- Home Style Dal Tadka – Cooked in the Instant Pot.
Both recipes are easy and tasty. You can do either as per your preference.
About this recipe
One of the most popular lentil dishes is Dal Tadka served in Indian restaurants. Basically, the dal tadka is made from lentils cooked tempered with oil or spices and herbs fried in ghee.
I admit that I just love the dal tadka which is served in restaurants even though we hardly eat outside.
So I try to recreate the magic of the restaurant in most of the dishes I prepare at home. Restaurant-style flavors here come from smoking the dal using a red charcoal.
Believe me, this simple method of smoking makes dal so tasty and tasty. In the Hindi language, we also call this smoking technique dhungar.
This Dal Tadka recipe is of a North Indian style.
What does Dal Tadka mean?
- Dal is the Hindi term for lentils.
- Chaunk or Tadka is the Hindi term for tempering and is a commonly used cooking technique in Indian cuisine.
- The tempering method has the spices and herbs fried in oil. Frying spices and herbs releases their essential oils, aroma and flavor into the hot oil. This mixture of fried spices, herbs and oil is added to prepared lentils or cooked rice or steamed vegetables and dramatically changes the flavor, aroma and taste of the dish. Tempering is an integral part of Indian cuisine and we use this method to prepare dal, vegetable dishes or chutneys.
- Tuvar dal – Dal tadka is made with arhar dal or tuvar dal also known as pigeon pea lentils. In this article, I shared the recipe for dal made from tuvar dal.
- Moong dal – Even moong lentils can be used in the recipe. The recipe can also be made with a mixture of masoor dal (red lentils) and pigeon pea lentils.
Also Read: Dal Makhani
How to make Dal Tadka
1. Rinse 1 cup of tuvar dal or arhar dal (split and peeled pigeon pea lentils) several times in water. Add them to a 3-liter pressure cooker.
Also, you can cook the lentils in a saucepan. Soak the lentils for an hour or two before cooking them in a saucepan.
2. Add ½ cup chopped onions, 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes, 1 or 2 green chillies (1 teaspoon of chopped Anaheim pepper or Serrano pepper can be replaced with green chillies) and 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger.
3. Pour in 2.5 cups of water. If you are cooking in a pot, about 4 to 4.5 cups of water can be added.
4. Add ½ turmeric powder and 1 small pinch of asafoetida (hing). If you don’t have asafoetida, skip it.
5. Mix well.
6. Pressure cook lentils 7-8 whistles or more until soft and creamy. Mash the cooked lentils with a whisk or a spoon and set aside.
If the consistency seems thick, add water. About ½ cup to 1 cup of water (depending on thickness) to get a medium consistency. Simmer the dal for 3 to 4 minutes.
7. When the desired consistency is reached, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of low fat cream (optional), ½ teaspoon of garam masala powder, 2 tablespoons of chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) and salt. depending on the dough. Turn off the heat.
8. Mix well so that everything combines evenly. Check the salt before adding tempering. If the salt is less, add more salt to the dal.
9. The final consistency of the cooked dal.
Optional – smoking or dhungar method
10. Next comes the dhungar method of flavoring the dal tadka with the smoked fumes of burnt charcoal. To do this using tongs or on a drip pan, place a small piece of charcoal.
Burn the charcoal until it turns red. Please use natural charcoal for this method. Note that this is an optional step and you can go directly to the quench method.
11. Place the hot red charcoal in a small steel bowl. You can also use onion layers or a hollow onion cut in half for the same.
12. Pour about ¼ teaspoon of oil or ghee over the charcoal. You will see vapors emanate as soon as you pour oil or ghee on the hot charcoal.
13. Place this bowl on the dal.
14. Cover the stove or pot with a lid and infuse the dal with the charcoal smoke. Keep just 1 to 2 minutes.
Do not keep for a long time because then the dal can have a bitter taste. Carefully remove the bowl using tongs and cover the stove with a lid. Put aside.
Make quench or tadka
15. Then heat 3 tablespoons of oil or ghee (clarified butter) in a small saucepan. First, add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and crack them. Cumin should be fried and not raw, but not burn.
16. Now add 2-3 dry red peppers, a generous pinch of asafoetida and 5-6 medium-sized, finely chopped garlic cloves. Allow the brown garlic and red peppers to change color. Do not burn the garlic.
17. Finally, add 1 teaspoon of crushed kasuri methi and ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder or cayenne pepper. Mix and turn off the stove. Be sure to fry the tempering ingredients over low heat, so as not to burn them.
18. Pour all the quench with oil or ghee into the dal.
19. You can mix the dal with the tempering or serve the dal tadka with the tempering on top. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve it hot with cumin rice, steamed basmati rice or with Indian flatbread like chapati or naan or paratha or roti.
Tempering adds a lot of flavor, aroma and so dal tadka goes wonderfully with steamed rice or jeera rice (pilaf flavored with cumin).
Dal tadka can also be served with roti or naan or rolls or paratha.
- Preparation: Cook the lentils first, then soak them just before serving. You can also cook the lentils first and store them in the refrigerator. Before serving, reheat the lentils and then soak them. Use immediately. However, for the best taste, always prepare the lentils fresh. It not only tastes great, but also a healthier choice.
- Type of lentils: You can do this with any yellow dal (broken lenses). I do this sometimes with Tuvar dal (split pigeon pea lentils) and Masoor dal (split pink lentils) and sometimes only with Tuvar dal.
- Tomatoes: I added tomatoes and it gives a nice flavor. If you don’t have tomatoes, add ½ to 1 teaspoon of lemon juice when the lentils are cooked.
- Tempering: You can temper or fry the spices and herbs in ghee or oil. In the recipe I used sunflower oil but the ghee (clarified butter) also gives a good flavor. You can even use any neutral flavored oil or peanut oil.
- Dhungar Method: In the step by step photos below, I have illustrated the charcoal smoking method as it gives a really good smoky flavor to the lentils. You can easily skip this method if you don’t have any charcoal. Another alternative to get that smoky flavor is to add smoked paprika instead of red chili powder or cayenne pepper.
- Consistency: The consistency of cooked dal is neither thick nor thin but medium. But if you like, you can go for a slightly thick or thin dal consistency.
- Soaking the lentils: You can also soak the lentils for 30 to 40 minutes before cooking them. This helps cook the lentils faster and at a recommended stage.
Dal is a staple in Indian cuisine. India has so many varieties of dal recipes. Each region, state has its own delicious recipes.