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This recipe is classed as easy

Rating 3.22 / 5 (27 votes)

Prep time:
20 min, plus 1 hr soaking
Cook time:
1 hr

Tarka dahl is prepared in four stages: soaking, boiling, seasoning and tempering - Parpeet Basi explains all to John Torode


1. Wash the three different types of lentils (or dahl) in a sieve and leave to soak, covered in cold water, for half an hour to an hour.

2. Drain the lentils and transfer them to a saucepan. Cover with water, add salt and turmeric and simmer for 45 minutes.

3. Heat the oil in another saucepan until smoking, then reduce the heat and add half of the cumin seeds and half of the asafoetida and leave for 30 seconds or so, until it starts crackling in the pan.

4. Add half of the chopped garlic and half of the onion and fry until golden-brown. Tip in the tomatoes, red chilli powder, ginger and green chillies and cook until the tomatoes are mashed.

5. Add the lentils to the tempered spices, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and keep warm.

6. Heat the ghee in a frying pan until smoking, reduce the heat and add the remaining cumin seeds, asafoetida, garlic and onion. Stir in the coriander seeds and whole red chilies. Serve the dahl in bowls and top with the buttery spices.


  • 100 g toor dahl, (split yellow peas)
  • 60 g yellow moong dahl, (split green mung beans)
  • 40 g red masoor dahl, (split masoor lentils)
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 75 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 heaped tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp asafoetida
  • 6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, (about 100g), finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp chopped green chillies
  • 50 g ghee
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 whole red chillies, (alternatively use dried red chillies)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped coriander

Tips and suggestions

all three types of lentils are available from specialist Indian stores or from suppliers online.

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Latest Comment


great recipe however not sure about some of the measurements?

daveN40396 daveN40396  Posted 22 Sep 2010 3:58 PM

All you people bickering on here, if you want to know about Indian cooking listen to Indian person not John Torode, the same for spanish food or turkish listen to a good source..

Big Cook Big Cook  Posted 08 Aug 2010 2:31 PM

How bizarre...
2 tbsp Salt ?
1 tbsp Turmeric ?
1 tbsp Asafoetida ?

Divide those quantities by 4 and you might get something that doesn't make you want to puke.

Add ½tsp brown mustard seeds fried in with the asafoetida and cumin for more authenticity

Johnny C Johnny C  Posted 04 Feb 2010 2:57 PM

This is the best tarka dahl recipe i've found in ages. Not sure why other people didn't like it?

I also stir in fresh coriander to the topping spices, and I tend to use sunflower oil, not ghee.

bryonyV35323 bryonyV35323 Posted 17 Sep 2009 2:18 PM

Not good. Dont use it. He hasnt a clue

AlanH4686 AlanH4686 Posted 12 Apr 2009 8:54 PM

I believe that 2 tablespoons of salt and turmeric is incorrect. I'm not too confident about the rest of the measurements because of this. Someone should be checking for accuracy.

SteveM87769 SteveM87769 Posted 05 Apr 2009 5:22 AM

That Tarka dahl was fantastic John nice one!!!!

arthur3 arthur3 Posted 24 Oct 2008 5:50 PM

I agree - I think that it should be 1

conrod99 conrod99 Posted 10 Sep 2008 4:05 PM

i think you made a mistake on the amount of salt or maybe i needed more water how much water is to be used??

Bigdog2 Bigdog2 Posted 15 Jun 2008 6:20 PM

You can get kimchi in Leeds at the Wing Lee Hong Chinese supermarket.

PPHammer PPHammer Posted 04 Jun 2008 7:34 PM

I love the idea of your show but would it be possible to add a list of the specialty shops and internet contacts where ingredients such as kimchi can be purchased. We have recently moved to the UK and live in York where we don't have many specialty stores who could supply ingredients.
Thanks Chris

hililly hililly Posted 24 May 2008 9:29 AM