Dal Tadka | Dal Fry

Cooking Method ,
Difficulty Intermediate
Prep Time: 30 min Cook Time: 30 min Total Time: 1 hr
Servings 6

Dal tadka (dal fry or lentil curry) is a part of North Indian cuisine and a quintessential Indian curry that is eaten with roti, naan, or rice. Dal fry is made with boiled lentils, Indian spices, and a mix of veggies like onions, tomatoes, and ginger-garlic paste. 

    Main Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup tur daal (split pigeon peas)
  • 1/2 cup chana daal (split chickpeas)
  • 1/4 cup moong dal (small yellow lentils)
  • 1/4 cup masoor dal (red lentils)
  • 3 cups Water (To boil the daals)
  • 1.5 cups Water (to add to the dal fry for diluting)
  • 1 tablespoon Cooking Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee (rarified butter) (For Tadka)
  • Vegetables
  • 2 Medium sized Onions
  • 2 Large tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic paste
  • 2 Green chilis (spicy)
  • 20 Curry leaves (Use 1/2 quantity for Tadka)
  • 5 Dried red chilies (For Tadka)
  • 5 Garlic pods - roughly crushed (For Tadka)
  • 1/2 cup Cilantro - chopped
  • Spices
  • 2 teaspoons Mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin seeds ((1/4th quantity for tadka))
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon Red chili powder ((Use 1/2 quantity for tadka))
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons Garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons Kasoori Methi
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander (Dhaniya) powder
  • Other
  • Salt (adjust to taste)
    Prepare the Dal
    • Wash the dal
    • Mix the dals with water in a pressure cooker pan
    • Pressure cook the dal for 3 whistles, as per the cooking instructions provided with your pressure cooker
  1. Prepare the vegetables
    • Cut the onions into thin slices about 1 inch in length
    • Dice the tomatoes
    • Split the green chilis vertically
    • Wash and chop the cilantro
  2. Cooking the dal
    • Keep a Saute pan on medium flame. 
    • Add cooking oil  
    • When the oil gets hot, add the mustard seeds and let them sputter
    • Now add cumin seeds, and half of the curry leaves. Stir for about 1 minute
    • Add the onions, ginger, and garlic paste.  
    • Stir for 3-4 minutes until the color of the onions starts to change 
    • When the onions are cooked, add the tomatoes and green chili
    • Reduce the heat to low, Add all the spice powders - turmeric, cumin, coriander, red chili and garam masala powders. Mix well.
    • Continue stirring on low flame for 3-4 minutes
    • Add salt, kasoori methi and chopped fresh cilantro and continue stirring
    • Now add the cooked dal mixture,salt and about 1 cup of water
    •  Gently mix the dal so that the spices are spread uniformly  
    • Taste and adjust the salt and spice levels ( if needed add some more red chili powder)
    • Let the dal boil for 10-15 mts on low heat. If the dal becomes too thick, add ½ cup water at a time. 
    • When the dal has boiled for at least 10 minutes and reached the desired consistency, turn off the heat
  3. Prepare the Tadka (Tempering)
    • Keep a small frying pan (2 inches deep) on the stove at medium heat
    • Add the ghee and let it melt
    • When the ghee starts to simmer (just before boiling), reduce the heat to low.
    • Add the remaining curry leaves, red chilies, chopped garlic, red chili powder, and cumin seeds, and stir quickly for about 1 minute. 
    • Take care not to burn the ingredients as the ghee is hot.
    • Remove the pan from the stove.
  4. Serving
    • Transfer the dal to a serving bowl. 
    • Gently spread the tadka on the dal 
    • Garnish with chopped cilantro, 
    • Enjoy the dal with rice and rotis 
Keywords: Dal, lentil, curry, tadka, fry, spicy, Indian, Punjabi
Vinay Mummigatti

I love traveling, cooking, and reading. This blog is a reflection of my passion for cooking. Food is a representation of culture and I have tried to assimilate foods from different cultures across the world. I am an Indian by birth who moved to the USA 20 years back. I hope my recipes and articles bring new experiences and joy to the readers. Please share your comments and feedback.