Here is how to make tarka dhal. This recipe is incredibly comforting and healthy that’s rich in spice, flavor, and fiber, and low in fat and calories.
This is an ideal Indian meal prep recipe because it’s straightforward to batch cook and store in the fridge for the week ahead.
What is Tarka Dhal?
Tarka dhal is a popular Indian dish made of red lentils, garam masala, onions, garlic, tomatoes, turmeric, and other spices.
It’s particularly popular in North India but every Indian city has its own variation and uniqueness to this dish.
What’s the difference between Dhal and Tarka Dhal?
Tarka is essentially the fried onion, garlic, and spices that are added to the cooked lentils once tempered. Whereas dhal is a dish made of slow-cooked lentils.
Therefore, tarka dhal has plenty of flavor, spice and taste.
Tarka Dhal Recipe
Prep and boil lentils
- Rinse the lentils in water for 30 minutes and drain water.
- Add the lentils, turmeric powder, and a pinch of salt to the saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat for 30 minutes.
- Cover and stir occasionally until they are tender.
- In a saucepan over medium-high, add ghee, dried red chilli, cumin seeds and fennel seeds. Allow it to cook for several minutes.
- Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, garam malsala, and salt. Continue to cook for 5 minutes.
- Once cooked, pour the tarka into the saucepan with the lentils and stir.
- Allow it to cook for medium-high heat for 10 minutes.
- Garnish wiht cilantro and serve with your preferred side dish such as rice or fresh roti.
Data source: USDA
How to reheat Tarka Dhal?
|Microwave||3 minutes (remove and stir halfway)|
|Saucepan||5 minutes on medium heat|
Tarka Dhal Storage Instructions
|How long to refrigerate tarka dhal?||3 to 4 days|
|How long to freeze tarka dhal?||4 to 6 months|
1. Spicy Tarka Dhal – Add in more chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes, or fresh chilies to the recipe to give it a fiery kick.
2. Creamy Tarka Dhal – Blend the cooked dhal mixture in a blender or using an immersion blender to create a smooth and creamy texture.
3. Coconut Tarka Dhal – Substitute some or all of the water with coconut milk to add a rich and creamy coconut flavor to the dish.
4. Lentil and Spinach Tarka Dhal – Add in chopped spinach or other leafy greens to the dhal for an extra boost of nutrients.
5. Tomato Tarka Dhal – Use canned or fresh diced tomatoes in the recipe to add a tangy and slightly sweet flavor.
6. Lemon Tarka Dhal – Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top of the dish for a bright and zesty flavor.
7. Sweet Potato Tarka Dhal – Add in diced sweet potatoes during the cooking process to give this dish a hearty and flavorful twist.
8. Meaty Tarka Dhal – Add in cooked ground beef, lamb, or chicken to the recipe to create a more substantial meal.
What To Serve With
1. Rice: Tarka Dhal is usually served with steamed Basmati rice. You can add some spices like cumin or bay leaves to the rice to enhance the flavors.
2. Naan Bread: Soft and fluffy naan bread is a classic accompaniment to any curry. You can make it at home or buy it from a local Indian restaurant.
3. Raita: This cool and refreshing yogurt dip is the perfect side dish for spicy curries like Tarka Dhal. You can add chopped cucumber, tomatoes, and mint to give it more flavor.
4. Pickles: Indian pickles like mango, lime or mixed vegetables add an extra zing to your meal. They are usually served in small bowls as a condiment to complement the flavors of Tarka Dhal.
5. Papadum: This crispy Indian snack is made from lentil flour and is a popular appetizer. You can buy it from grocery stores or make it at home and serve it along with Tarka Dhal.
6. Salad: A simple salad of greens, tomatoes, and onions dressed with lemon and salt is a refreshing complement to the spicy flavors of Tarka Dhal.
7. Chutney: Tamarind or mint chutney adds a tangy and sweet flavor to your meal. You can serve it on the side along with Tarka Dhal.
8. Lassi: This creamy and frothy yogurt drink is a nice way to balance the heat of spicy curry. You can add fruits like mango or strawberry to make it more flavorful.
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