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Dal Tadka - Restaurant-style tempered lentils




Dal Tadka is a delicious Indian lentil curry made from Arhar Dal, also called Toor Dal (yellow pigeon pea lentils), and Moong Dal (small yellow lentils with shell). It is one of the most popular dishes in Indian restaurants or dhabas (Indian street food restaurants).


Dal means lentils in Hindi and Tadka is the name for "tempering" in Hindi. So Dal Tadka literally means lentils with tempering. The lentils are cooked and then tempered with a spicy ghee mixture (tadka) of cumin, Asafoetida (hing), dry red chilies, fresh ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes and red chili powder.


This lentil curry is easy to prepare, uses very simple ingredients and is ready in less than 30 minutes. You can cook the lentils in an electric pressure cooker or in a traditional Indian pressure cooker.


Another great thing about this recipe is that you can easily make it vegan and gluten-free with a few small changes.


You've probably noticed that unique smoky flavor when you've been served this dal in a restaurant. This flavor is also very easy to replicate at home. I've shared the secret in the recipe below, so read on.


What is a pressure cooker?

In Indian cooking, the pressure cooker is a standard utentsil because it is convenient and time-saving. The pressure cookers often have a whistle system that signals when the cooking process or a dish is done. The pressure cookers usually have two to three inserts made of metal, with which you can cook two to three dishes at the same time.


In a pressure cooker, food can be cooked at higher temperatures than in a normal pot. Because this shortens the cooking time, the preparation is much gentler. A beneficial side effect is that a pressure cooker can save energy during cooking.


You can prepare various curries, as well as rice, lentils and legumes in a pressure cooker. Biryani as well as pulaos can also be cooked in a pressure cooker in under 30 minutes.


Nowadays, there are also electric pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot. An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, but it offers much more. It is a multi-cooker, which means it has many cooking functions.


I use my Instant Pot as a slow stove, rice stove, steamer, yogurt maker, or fryer. This is an all-in-one appliance that allows me to brown a chicken, for example, and cook everything in the same pan. In most cases, my Instant Pot meals are ready to serve in less than an hour.


Ingredients for Dal Tadka

All the ingredients for Dal Tadka are available in supermarkets, Indian grocery store or online.


Dals - You will need Arhar/Toor Dal (yellow pigeon peas) and Moong Dal (peeled small yellow lentils) to prepare this simple but delicious lentil recipe. Some people use Masoor Dal (red lentils) instead of Arhar Dal, of course you can try this version too.

Note: You can use either Toor Dal or Masoor Dal, but adding some Moong Dal is important to make Dal Tadka creamy.


Oil - Use any vegetable oil to prepare the masala.


Other ingredients - You will also need onions, fresh ginger, garlic, green chilies, tomatoes, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red Kashmiri chili powder, salt, lime juice and coriander leaves.


For the tempering

To temper the Dal Tadka recipe, you will need ghee, hing (Asafoetida ) , cumin seeds, dry red chillies, garlic and red Kashmiri chilli powder.


FAQs

How do you get the smoky flavor in the Dal Tadka?

The Dal Tadka that we try in dhabas or restaurants has a very distinct smoky flavor. This is because it is made on a wood fire.


To get a similar smoky flavor at home, you should temper your dal once it is ready. You can find the description on how to do this in the recipe.


How to make vegan Dal Tadka?

To make it vegan, replace ghee with any vegetable oil. All other ingredients used in this dal are vegan.


How to make gluten free Dal Tadka?

Just avoid adding hing (Asafoetida), although it adds a nice flavour to the dal. You could, of course, use gluten-free hing(asafetida).


Why does the dal need to be soaked?

Soaking the dal is not necessary. But if you have time, soak both dals for about 30 minutes so they cook faster and are easier to digest.


Soaking activates a compound called amylase, which breaks down complex starches in lentils and makes them easier to digest.


Variations

Different Lentil Combinations - Punjabi Dal Tadka is usually made with the combination of Moong Dal and Arhar Dal, but some people also use Moong Dal and Masoor Dal to prepare it.


With Chana Dal - You could also use Chana Dal and Moong Dal to prepare Dal Tadka. All other ingredients and processes remain the same.


With Eggs - A popular variation of this recipe is Anda Dal Tadka, which is available in many roadside dhabas. To prepare it, cook the dal as indicated in the recipe. Now start the tempering process. Once you have added all the tempering ingredients, crack an egg into the pan and scramble it. Now pour this tempering with egg into the cooked dal. Your Anda Dal Tadka is ready.


Serving suggestions

The best thing about Dal Tadka is that it is a very versatile recipe and goes with pretty much anything, it can be served with Jeera Rice, steamed Basmati rice, brown rice or Chapati .

It even tastes delicious with other flatbreads like Tawa Paratha, Laccha Paratha, Naan, Khamiri Roti, Tandoori Roti or Garlic Naan.


It is also a popular dal made for get-togethers or festive meals, and there is nothing like a good dal curry to enjoy with a bowl of steamed rice.


Storage suggestions

Dal Tadka keeps easily in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days. Just store it in an airtight container. To reheat, you can either use a pan or a microwave and heat it until it is nice and warm. If it gets a little thick while cooling, add a little water and adjust the consistency.


You can also make a fresh ghee tadka of cumin, garlic, hing (Asafoetida) and a little red Kashmiri chili powder when you serve it again. A fresh tadka makes Dal Tadka as good as new.


Ingredients

  • ½ cup yellow pigeon pea lentils (Arhar Dal, Toor Dal) (or pink Masoor)

  • ¼ cup small yellow lentils without skin (yellow Moong Dal)

  • 2 tbsp ghee (substitute oil for vegan dal)

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped

  • 1 tomato, chopped

  • 1 tsp coriander powder

  • ½ tsp turmeric powder

  • 1 tsp red Kashmiri chilli powder

  • 750 ml water

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice


For the tadka (seasoned flavored ghee/oil).


  • 2 tbsp ghee (replace with oil for vegan dal)

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds

  • ¼ tsp. hing (Asafoetida)

  • 2 - 3 whole dried red Kashmiri chilies

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 tsp red Kashmiri chili powder

  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Instructions

Prepare in an electric pressure cooker like Instant Pot

Rinse Arhar dal and Moong dal several times with cold water until the water remains clear.

Soak the lentils in 2-3 cups of water and set aside.


Press the SAUTE button on the Instant Pot. Once the indicator switches to HOT, add ghee to the inner pot. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onions and fry, stirring frequently, until they turn a light brown color (takes about 8-10 minutes).

Add the ginger and garlic paste and continue to fry for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped green chili and tomato and mix well. Stir frequently while cooking and continue to sauté the mixture for 3 minutes.

Now add coriander powder, turmeric powder and red Kashmiri chili powder and continue cooking for 1 minute.

Drain the water from the lentils and add them to the pot along with 750 ml of water and salt and stir well. Close the lid of the Instant Pot and set the valve to the closed position. Schließe den Deckel des Instant-Pots und stelle das Ventil in die Verschlussposition. . Press the PRESSURE COOK button and set the timer to 10 minutes at high pressure. The Instant Pot will take some time to build up pressure and start the timer.

Once the timer goes off, release the pressure naturally for 10 minutes. After that, manually releasing the remaining pressure by moving the valve to the vent position. To avoid steam burns, use a cloth or spoon to move the valve. Open the lid of the Instant Pot.


Add lime juice to the pot and mix the cooked dal well with a whisk or Madani until it is smooth and creamy..


Add a little more water if the dal is thick for your taste and bring it to a boil by pressing the SAUTE button.


Check for salt and add more if needed. Set the cooked dal aside.


Preparation in a traditional pressure cooker

Rinse Arhar dal and Moong dal several times with cold water until the water remains clear.

Soak the lentils in 2-3 cups of water and set aside.


Heat ghee in a pressure cooker over medium heat. Once the ghee is hot and shimmering, add onions and fry, stirring frequently, until they turn a light brown color (takes about 8-10 minutes).


Add ginger and garlic paste and fry for 2 minutes more. Add the chopped green chili and tomato and mix well. Stir frequently while cooking and continue to sauté the mixture for 3 minutes.


Now add coriander powder, turmeric powder and red Kashmiri chili powder and continue cooking for 1 minute.


Drain the water from the lentils and add them to the pot along with 750 ml of water and salt and stir well.


Close the lid of the pressure cooker and increase the heat to high and set the pressure to high. When the desired pressure is reached, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes.


Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and release the pressure naturally.

Open the lid of the pressure cooker.


Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice to the pot and mix the cooked dal well with a whisk or madani until smooth and creamy. Add a little more water if the dal is thick for your taste and bring it to a boil


Check for salt and add more if needed. Set the cooked dal aside..


Tempering the dal

Once the lentils are cooked, they should be tempered. Heat ghee in a small pan over medium heat. When the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds and hing (asafetida) and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.

Add dried red chilies and garlic and stir fry until they turn golden brown color.

Turn off the heat and add red Kashmiri chili powder to the pan.

Pour the tempering over the dal immediately and mix well. Your smoky Dal Tadka is ready.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve hot.


Tips

  • You can also cook the dal in a pot over the stove. This method takes a lot of time and is therefore not recommended. But if you don't have a pressure cooker, you can prepare it this way. However, you will have to add more water and cook it longer (about 40 to 50 minutes).

  • If time is short, I recommend adding 1 pinch of baking soda while soaking, so the lentils will cook faster.

  • Always add salt at the end, so the lentils and beans cook faster.





I look forward to hearing from you...

...if you like my blog, my recipes inspire you and your curiosity for Indian cuisine has been piqued.


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