Tarka dhal is so easy to make! Here’s how…
I don’t know about you but I can’t go out for a curry without ordering a nice side of tarka dhal. It’s the perfect mild accompaniment for a curry.
Tarka dhal is also nice added to curries such as dhansaks.
To make this tarka dhal recipe, I use Massoor dhal (split small red lentils). Red lentils are available in most supermarkets though you will find them cheaper at Asian markets.
Massoor dhal, unlike other lentils only needs to be washed and rinsed under cold water. I do let mine soak in fresh water for about a half hour while I prepare the other ingredients but it isn’t really necessary.
Getting this recipe right…
So many people have said to me that they just can’t get their tarka dhal to taste as good as it does in curry houses.
This recipe will get the results you’re looking for.
I’m afraid, however that the secret to that amazing tarka dhal flavour is ghee and lots of it.
This recipe is from my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Bible’ where I suggest using about 3 tbsp of ghee. Hey, it’s a cookbook and people don’t like finding recipes that are too fatty these days.
The thing is, the chefs at good curry houses know that people love ghee. They use a lot more than 3 tablespoons of the stuff!
So for the blog, I have made it like I have seen in made hundreds of times. You can use the amount of ghee suggested in the recipe or use one heck of a lot more as I do in the photos below.
That ghee is what makes a good tarka dhal, great!
You might like to try this recipe using different lentils or a combination of different lentils. Some lentils require a longer cooking time so be sure to read the label.
At curry houses, they normally use red split lentils as I have here because they cook to perfection so quickly.
I often make this dhal with a combination of moong, chana and massoor lentils. This takes more time and although very nice, it is just as good with plain old red lentils.
Following are step by step photographed instructions on cooking tarka dhal.
Here are more curry house curry favourites you might like to try!
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Tarka dhal doesn’t get much easier or tastier than the following recipe!
- 250g Massoor dhal – rinsed with water
- 3 tablespoon ghee
- 10 fresh curry leaves (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 x cinnamon stick
- 1 onion - finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- ½ tsp turmeric
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pour about 400ml of water over your lentils in a sauces pan and simmer over medium high heat until tender. Remove any foam that forms on the top. Cooking the lentils should take about 25 minutes.
- While your lentils are cooking, melt the ghee in a frying pan and add the curry leaves, cumin seeds and cinnamon stick.
- Stir in the chopped onion and fry for about 5 minutes until browned.
- Add the chopped garlic, garam masala and turmeric and stir it into the hot ghee..
- Pour the most of the ghee mixture (the tarka) over the lentils and stir it all in. Leave some to garnish.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with the remaining tarka.
I hope you enjoy making this curry house style tarka dhal. If you do or if you tried a variation, please let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.