Learn how to make a traditional Tarka Dal with this easy recipe. A Tarka Dal is the ultimate comfort food; high in fibre and flavour. The perfect meal to curl up with on a cold day.

Tarka dal is one of the easiest curries to make; you’ll spend more time prepping than actually cooking. It’s a very low maintenance recipe. You can leave the lentils to soak for a few hours whilst you get on with other jobs. Then you’ll only need around 15-20 minutes to actually cook it.

It’s also pretty cheap too! You only need red lentils, garlic, an onion, a tomato, a green chilli and a stick of butter. We also use common spices that you probably already have in, including salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and fenugreek leaves. That means you can easily make this recipe for under £10!

And we like to think our’s is the best Tarka Dal recipe because it’s Mum’s special Tarka Dal recipe! Mum spent years cooking this delicious dish, trying different things until she got it just right. We’ve enjoyed Tarka Dal for tea many times growing up and it never grows old. We hope you enjoy making it as much as we do.

What is Tarka Dal?

Tarka Dal is a delicious red lentil curry, which is popular throughout the Indian subcontinent. The word ‘Tarka’ means a way of frying your spices. Dal is basically a thick lentil soup. So you pour your Tarka into your Dal and you get a tasty Tarka Dal!!

Is Tarka Dal healthy?

A Tarka Dal is one of the healthiest curries around and it’s suitable for vegetarians. Lentils are high in firbre, which aids digestion and has even been linked to a lower chance of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. The spices used also have their own unique health benefits, such as cumin which has naturally occurring antioxidants and has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Is tarka dal spicy?

A Tarka Dal isn’t spicy, but if you do find it too spicy you can always add more water to cool it down a little. Whilst it may seem like the Tarka is going to be spicy, the Dal will cool it down.

Tarka Dal Recipe

This lentil curry is packed with health benefits! High in fibre and protein, low in calories and fat - this vegetarian curry is full of flavour and can be adapted for vegans too!

  • 1 cup of red lentils ((167g))
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of turmeric
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/3 stick of butter
  • 1/2 a tomato
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 tsp of red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • 1 tsp of fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp of cumin powder
  1. 1. Pre-soak 1 cup of red lentils for 1-2 hours.

  2. 2. Boil 4 cups of water and add the lentils, 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of turmeric.

  3. 3. Leave the lentils on a medium to low heat for 20-25 minutes to make the Dal.

  4. 4. Take it off the heat and start making the Tarka.

  5. 5. Finely dice ½ an onion, 8 cloves of garlic, slice 1 green chilli and chop ½ a medium tomato.

  6. 6. Add ⅓ stick of butter to a pan and heat it up on a medium to low heat. (Vegans can switch this to oil.)

  7. 7. Add the diced garlic into a pan and fry it until lightly golden.

  8. 8. Add the onion and green chilli into the pan.

  9. 9. Next, add the ½ tomato into the pan.

  10. 10. Time to add the spices! Add 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon of coriander powder, 1 teaspoon of fenugreek leaves and 1 teaspoon of cumin powder.

  11. 11. Give it all a good stir in.

  12. 12. Pour in ¼ cup of water

  13. 13. Add some fresh coriander to the Tarka.

  14. 14. Pour the Tarka into the Dal.

  15. 15. Stir it in and leave to cook on medium to low heat for a few minutes.

  16. 16. Add in another cup of water if it needs thinning.

If you'd like to see how we make a Tarka Dal at our restaurant, check out our YouTube video here where Tahreem takes you through the steps! 

We have lots of other tasty and authentic curry recipes on our YouTube channel. Give them a watch and let us know what you think!

Main Course
Indian, Pakistani
Curry, Curry Recipe, Lentil Curry, Recipe, Vegan, Vegan Curry, Vegan Curry Recipe, Vegetarian, Vegetarian Curry, Vegetarian Curry Recipe


Check out The Balti Brothers on YouTube