Try our tarka dhal recipe from Indian recipe writer Maunika Gowardhan, then check out her chilli paneer, our saag paneer and more Indian vegetarian recipes.

Maunika says, "This is a classic tarka dhal that is flavoured with ghee, garlic and chilli. The tarka gives it so much flavour. If you are opting to make this vegan, I would recommend using rapeseed oil. If you are not able to get hold of kashmiri chilli powder, you can swap it for mild paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper for the required heat."

How to make Tarka dhal... step-by-step video

Tarka dhal recipe


  • 250g toor dal
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tomato (about 80g), roughly chopped
  • roti or jeera pulao, to serve


  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 mild dried red chillies
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 60g onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander


  • STEP 1

    Tip the toor dal, asafoetida, turmeric, garlic, ginger, tomato and 1 litre of water into a large saucepan, season to taste and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hr, stirring often to prevent it from sticking. Cover, turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly. Break down the mixture slightly using a potato masher or hand blender – you don’t want it too smooth. Set aside.

  • STEP 2

    Melt the ghee in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and dried chillies and, as they begin to sizzle, the garlic and ginger. Fry for a few seconds. Add the onions and continue to fry for 3-4 mins until softened. Stir well, then add the kashmiri chilli powder. Stir and then transfer half the tarka to a small bowl. Add the cooked dal to the rest of the tarka in the pan, along with 100ml of water. Simmer over a low heat for 2 mins, then turn the off heat and garnish with the reserved tarka and the coriander. Serve with roti or jeera pulao.


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