Dal Tadka

Recipe 12 minPreparation Time 55 minCooking Time

Dal Tadka

12 minPreparation Time 55 min Cooking Time

About this Recipe

“Every Indian restaurant has dal tadka on their menu for good reason. Creamy lentils cooked with aromatics, spices, and tangy tomatoes and topped with a final ‘tadka,’ or seasoning of spices, chile, garlic. Delicious comfort in a bowl, dal tadka to me is like coming home.” — Spice Spice Baby

The Benefits

Masoor dal or red lentils are filled with protein and fiber. This hearty dal is filling and nourishing with a slew of anti-inflammatory ingredients like onions, garlic, ginger and dry spices like cumin, turmeric, and asafetida. Anthocyanin-rich chile and tomatoes, and cilantro work towards immunity building and stabilizing blood sugar levels

Note: Put the lentils on to cook while you prep your other ingredients. 


Serves 4
  • 2 cups (380 g) split skinless red (masoor) or yellow (mung) lentils (you can also use a 1:1 mixture of the two kinds)
  • 4 cups (950 ml) water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • Salt for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp (45 ml) oil (I like avocado oil for its neutral flavor and high heat stability), divided
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, divided
  • Pinch of asafoetida (optional, available at most Indian grocery stores or online, and great for digestion!)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 inch (2.5 cm) knob of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped or puréed tomatoes
  • 2 dried red chiles (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chile powder (or sweet paprika)
  • Handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • Lime juice to finish


  1. Step 1
    Add the lentils to a pot with 4 cups water, the turmeric, 1/2 tsp salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook the lentils, covered, over medium-low heat, adding more water if needed, until softened, about 30 minutes. (Alternatively, cook the lentils in a pressure cooker; this should take 10 to 15 minutes.)
  2. Step 2
    Prepare the masala: Heat 1½ Tbsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the pinch of asafoetida (if using) and the chopped onion; cook until the onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add half of the minced garlic and half of the ginger and cook for a minute. Add the ground cumin, coriander, and cayenne and sauté for a minute.
  3. Step 3
    Add the tomatoes and cook until the puree thickens a bit and the flavors have a chance to incorporate, 5 to 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and transfer the masala into your cooked lentils, stirring well and adding more water if it looks dry. Simmer over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes to marry the flavors, and adjust the salt to taste.
  4. Step 4
    Finish with your final seasoning or tadka. Heat the remaining 1½ Tbsp of the oil on medium-high heat and add the remaining 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and dried red chiles (if using) and allow them to sizzle for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the remaining minced garlic and ginger and cook until it just starts to turn pink. Add the Kashmiri red chili powder or sweet paprika and allow it to bloom for 30 seconds then tip the Tadka into your cooked Dal.
  5. Step 5
    Top with fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime, stir well to incorporate and serve with rice or roti and a vegetable of choice.

Adapted from Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for Your Family Table by Kanchan Koya

Spice Spice Baby: 100 Recipes with Healing Spices for Your Family Table