Tarka Dahl


– 1 cup red lentils
– 1 tsp oil
– Jug/kettle of hot water
– Half tsp turmeric powder
– Generous tsp ghee
– Pinch of hing (asafetida)
– 1 tsp whole cumin
– 2 whole red chillies
– Half tsp chilli powder
– Salt to taste


Wash the red lentils in a sieve until the water runs clear. This is really important as it takes the dust off them. Then drain and place in a medium pot with enough water to completely submerge them – about one and a half cup.

Add a teaspoon of oil and bring the water to a rolling boil on medium high. Best not to run off at this point, as foam and scum will rise to the surface. Just skim it off with a ladle and get rid of it.

When that’s done, add the turmeric powder. Then keep it bubbling, adding a cup of hot water only when it starts hissing and spitting. In about 20 minutes, you’ll get a soup like consistency with no visible whole lentils. Add salt to your taste.

Now lower the heat and make the tadka. Tadka is simply spices tempered in hot oil. In a small pan, bring the ghee to heat on medium. Add a pinch of hing, and quickly the whole cumin, red chillies and chilli powder. As they sizzle up in seconds, stir this through your dal.

Serve this piping hot with a bowl of steaming hot Basmati rice or alongside rotis for dunking.