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Dal Tadka

Restaurant style Dal Tadka (lentils) tempered with ghee and spices! This dal has a smokey flavor which makes it all the more special!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 282 kcal


  • 1 cup toor dal 200 grams, also known as arhar dal/split pigeon peas lentil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt divided, adjust to taste
  • 3.5 cups water divided
  • 4 large garlic cloves divided
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 green chili
  • 1.5 tablespoons ghee 22 ml, also known as clarified butter or use oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds crushed in mortar pestle
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 medium red onion 150 grams, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili powder or adjust to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon kasuri methi crushed, dried fenugreek leaves


  • 2 teaspoons ghee 10 ml
  • 2 large garlic cloves chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing also known as asafoetida
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1/4 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder optional

Piece of charcoal & melted ghee, for dhungar method, optional


    • To a pressure cooker add toor dal along with turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and 3 cups water.
    • Pressure cook for 4 whistle on high heat then lower the heat and let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. If using an Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 8 minutes with natural pressure release. Set it aside.
    • Meanwhile crush 4 large garlic cloves, 1-inch ginger and green chili in a mortar pestle and set it aside.
    • In a heavy bottom pan, heat ghee on medium heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds, crushed coriander seeds and cloves. Saute for few seconds until fragrant.
    • Then add onions, cook for around 3 to 4 minutes until they are soft and start changing color.
    • Add the crushed garlic-ginger-green chili. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the raw smell goes away.
    • Add the chopped tomatoes along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and mix. Cover and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until tomatoes are very soft and cooked.
    • Then add the coriander powder, garam masala, kashmiri red chili powder, red chili powder, cilantro and kasuri methi. Stir the spices with the masala for few 30 seconds.
    • Add the boiled dal to the pan and mix. I also added 1/2 cup water here as dal looked very thick to me. Let the dal simmer for 3 to 4 minutes
    • For the tempering/tadka, heat 2 teaspoons ghee in a small pan. Once the ghee is hot, add 2 chopped garlic cloves. Also add hing and dried red chilies.
    • Cook for one minute until the garlic starts changing color. Add kashmiri red chili powder remove pan from heat.
    • Pour tempering over the dal and mix. 
    • This last step is optional but recommended.
      For the dhungar method - place a steel bowl on top of a trivet placed inside the dal. Then heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until its red hot.
    • Place hot charcoal in that steel bowl on top of the trivet. Pour melted ghee (around 1 tablespoon) on top of charcoal. You will immediately see fumes coming out of charcoal.
    • Immediately close the pan with a lid. Let it remain like this for 5 to 10 minutes. After 5 to 10 minutes, remove lid and remove the bowl from dal.
    • The longer you keep the lid closed, the smokier dal will get, so don't do more than 10 minutes.
    • Garnish dal tadka with more cilantro and serve!


    1. Use oil in place of ghee to make this vegan.
    2. Skip hing (asafoetida) to make this gluten-free or use gluten-free hing.
    3. You may use a combination of lentils to make dal tadka. Commonly used- toor dal + moong dal or toor dal + masoor dal (red lentils).