How to Make Dal Tadka

how to make dal tadkaDal tadka is a North Indian recipe and is a regular feature in most Punjabi restaurants. Though there are many recipes made with dal in the cuisine of Punjabi, nothing quite beats the appeal and simplicity of dal tadka. In this dish, yellow dal is garnished generously with tadka, which means ‘tempering’ of cumin seeds, dry red chilli and garlic.

Also known as dak tarka or tadka dal, dal tadka has is a hearty, rich, textured dish full of smoky flavor that makes it suitable for serving with various flat breads from India. It is actually the process of cooking which makes this recipe so irresistible and unique just like the other recipes in this article. In many dal recipes, tempering is done before anything else and then the cooked dal is added to it.

There are so many different ways of cooking dal tadka that homemade dal tends to taste different from the dal tadka served in restaurants. This is because most households tend to cook the dal tadka by adding ingredients which they like in particular, such as the optional curry leaves in the first recipe below. Dal tadka recipes used for restaurants are more standardized with little variation, so you will notice that dal tadka dishes served in restaurants tend to taste the same.

What most people don’t realize is that this is a dish that is easy enough to prepare in your own kitchen just as these other recipes are, and this course shows you exactly how. Made with split red lentils, this smooth, rich and creamy dal is tempered with Punjabi ghee and spices. It makes the perfect accompaniment to rotis or rice.

Indian Lentils

You can prepare dal tadka using three kinds of Indian lentils including yellow dal, Bangal gram or red gram lentils. You can also use just two of the tree types and your dish will still come out perfectly. To add a rustic flavor, you can use clarified butter when tempering. For a vegan version that tastes just as great, you can also use oil which is true for most vegetarian recipes, as this vegan cooking course shows you. The authentic recipe for dal tadka does not really use curry leaves but if you love the smoky flavor of curry, adding a couple of leaves in there as you temper the spices won’t hurt.

Home Style Dal Tadka Recipe

  • ¼ cup red gram lentils
  • ¼ cup yellow lentils
  • 2 tbsp Bengal gram lentils soaked 15 mins in water
  • 2 green chillies slit lengthwise
  • Finely minced ginger
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 finely chopped tomato
  • 1 ½ tsp ghee or oil
  • For Tempering:
  • 1 ½ tsp ghee or cooking oil
  • Curry leaves (optional)
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 green chilli, slit lengthwise
  • 1 or 2 dry red chilli de-seeded and chopped
  • A pinch of hing
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds

Add 2 cups of water and the three dal/ lentils in a pressure cooker including the turmeric powder, hing, ginger and green chillies. Pressure cook this until the dal is almost cooked, which happens in about three whistles and lightly mash the dal.

In a frying pan, heat ghee and stir fry with crushed coriander seeds for a few seconds. Add the chopped tomato and sauté for four minutes. Add in the dal that you just cooked in the pressure cooker and the salt. Mix this together. Add a large cup of water and cook this on slow to medium flame for ten minutes without the lid or until you get your choice of consistency. Turn off the heat and put this in a serving dish as you begin the tempering.

In a small pan, heat ghee and add the cumin seeds. As they splutter, add the curry leaves, red chilli powder, green chilli, red chillies and hing. Sauté this for a few seconds. Once you see all the flavors have mixed, turn off the heat and pour this over the dal. Serve with white rice, rotis or any Indian bread of your choice. Love to cook healthy? This course gives you all the fundamentals.

Restaurant Style Dal Tadka Recipe

  • ½ cup split pink lentils
  • ½ cup split pigeon pea lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • A pinch of hing
  • A pinch of garam masala powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chopped or grated ginger
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 or 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 tsp fenugreek leaves, crushed
  • Salt as needed
  • For Garnish
  • 1 tbsp cream
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
  • For Tempering
  • 2 red chillies
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • a pinch of hing

The first thing you need to do is to rinse the dal. Add the turmeric powder, hing, ginger, green chilli, tomato and chopped onion. Mix all these ingredients together and pressure cook for three whistles or until the dal is cooked. After cooking, the dal tends to have a thick, creamier consistency. Using a wooden spoon, beat the dal until it is mashed well and has a very creamy consistency. Remember that the consistency of the dal varies depending on preference, so choose the consistency you like the best. To get the consistency you want, add some water and simmer for four minutes. Once the dal has reached the consistency you like, add some chopped coriander leaves, crushed kasury methi, garam masala powder and cream. Switch off the heat and mix all the ingredients together. Add salt if needed.

In a pan, add cumin to oil and fry until the cumin is cooked but not burnt. Add the chopped garlic, hing and red chillies and cook until the garlic turns golden in color. Once you see this happen, pour the entire pot of tempered ingredients including the oil on the dal. You can serve the dal tadka with the tempering resting on top of it or mixed. Use coriander leaves for garnishing and serve with steamed jeera or basmati rice.


  • You can cook the dal in a pot with water if you don’t have a pressure cooker. If this is the case, soaking the dal beforehand will make it cook easier.
  • The consistency of dal tadka is medium, rather than thick or thin. If you prefer, however, you can go for a lightly thinner or thicker consistency.
  • You can temper the dal with clarified butter called ‘ghee’ instead of oil, if you prefer. This is true for most recipes that call for tempering, such as the ones in this Indian cooking course.