Dal Tadka

Dal is cooked first until soft. It is also cooked for a while along with the tomatoes, onions and any other vegetables that may be added. When done, it is taken in the serving dish. Finally just before serving, a tempering is added on top. The tempering is usually made with ghee and spices like cumin seeds, Asafoetida, mustard seeds, curry leaves etc. The tempering may vary but the point is to have the tempering done in the very last minute so that the aroma of the flavoured oil that floats on top really stands out. In restaurants, dal tadka sometimes also comes with a dhungar, where the dal is infused with smoky flavour using burnt charcoal and some ghee.

Dal Fry

Coming to the Dal fry, we start this also by cooking the lentils first. The onions, tomatoes, garlic etc. are fried in the tempering oil nicely and then added to the dal. Dal fry may or may not have a separate tadka.

Recipe for Everyday Dal

  • Preparation time: 30 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Serves: 4


  • Dal – 1 cup (Toor dal is commonly used but you can use any type of dal or a mix of dals each day)
  • Onion – 1 (chopped)
  • Green Chilli – 2 (chopped)
  • Tomato – 1
  • Salt – to taste
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Cilantro – handful finely chopped

Tempering (Tadka)

  • Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Dry red chilli – 2
  • Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida – a pinch
  • Garlic – 4 cloves (crushed or chopped)
  • Curry Leaves – few
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp

Method 1: (Dal Fry)

  • Pressure cook the dal until it is nicely cooked but not mushy for about 2 whistles and keep aside. (Traditionally toor dal is used but you may use any other lentils or a combination of lentils. This will make it different in taste, texture and interesting each day.)
  • Heat oil in a pan and splutter the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chilli.
  • Add Asafoetida and turmeric powder to this.
  • Next add finely chopped garlic cloves and fry it on low flame till it turns brown.
  • Next add the onions and saute for a while. Add some chopped tomatoes and saute.
  • Add the cooked dal required amount of salt and let it cook for 10 minutes till all the flavour blends. Add water as needed to your desired thickness.
  • Add finely chopped coriander leaves, a dollop of ghee and switch off.

Method 2: (Dal Tadka)

  • Pressure cook the dal along with the onions, turmeric powder, green chilli, salt and tomato.
  • Cook everything together with enough water for 2 whistles. Note : The normal ratio of water for a thick dal is 1:3 i.e 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dal. If you want a thinner dal, increase the amount of water.
  • After the pressure comes down, open the cooker and add the tadka. For the tadka or tempering, heat oil/ ghee in a pan, splutter the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Add dry red chilli, Asafoetida, curry leaves and finely chopped garlic cloves.
  • Cook on low flame till the garlic is cooked. Add this tadka on top of the dal for flavour and as a nice garnish. Also add finely chopped cilantro .