Tarka Dhal is the perfect south Asian comfort meal. Plus, its healthy, cheap and delicious!
You know that feeling? When you eat something and you feel as though all your problems have gone away or that your winter blues have suddenly been banished? And then you finally get that ah moment. Yh I know right… the BEST feeling ever!
Well guess what, that’s what we have going on here today. Tarka Dhal you guys! The most perfect, wholesome comfort in a bowl that you can get in 30 minutes 🙂
It’s an amazing dish to serve when you have guests with varying dietary requirements because it’s vegetarian, vegan and so delicious!
I love dhal, it has so much potential and the possibilities of the different flavour combos that you can incorporate in this wholesome, comforting dish are endless. But, today let’s start with a classic recipe!
So what is Tarka dhal?
Tarka is a technique where herbs and spices are added to very hot oil to create an intense aromatic fusion of flavour. It’s either done at the beginning of a recipe whereby the rest of the ingredients are then added to the infused oil and spices or it’s done at the end of a recipe. For Tarka Dhal, it’s usually done at the end.
A word about the Tarka method though, be very careful when you are transferring the hot oil to the lentils as it’s very hot!
I don’t know about you, but dhal has this wholesome, comforting quality that seems to appeal to = EVERYONE. Despite originating in south Asia, its managed to transcend into a dish that is loved by all regardless of where they are in the world or what time of year it is. There are definitely a few variations on how this delicious dish can be made, but my secret to the perfect Tarka Dhal is in using a combination of different types of lentils and whisking them during the cooking process. It adds a beautiful layer of depth, creaminess and flavour to the dhal, which combined with aromatic spices and garlic, you get a taste sensation!
P.S. Make sure you put the lid on the pan after you have transferred the oil, garlic and onion to the lentils at the end. It helps to retain a beautiful aroma and when you open the lid to serve the dish, lets just say you won’t have to be calling anyone to the dinner table yourself!
- 5 table spoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium (100g) white onion, finely sliced
- 1 cup (180g) red split lentils
- ½ cup (95g) yellow dried split peas (chana dhal)
- ½ cup (100g) split mung beans
- 6 cups (720ml) water
- 2 medium bay leafs
- 1 table spoon ghee
- salt to taste (1 table spoon*)
- 1 tea spoon turmeric
- ¼ tea spoon chilli powder
- 1 tea spoon curry powder
- 2 green chillies, sliced in half lengthways
- 1 large (150g) red tomato, diced
- ¼ tea spoon whole cumin seeds
- ¼ tea spoons mustard seeds
- 10 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ cup fresh cilantro (coriander), roughly chopped
- SAUTEE the onions in 4 table spoons of oil over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
- WASH the red split lentils, yellow split peas and split mung beans together in water until the water runs clear. Add them to the onions and combine well.
- ADD the water, bay leafs, ghee, salt, turmeric, chilli and curry powder. Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Stir well, put the lid on and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 25 minutes.
- WHISK the lentils for about 1 minute. Add the green chillies and tomato. Simmer for a further 5 minutes with the lid off.
- MEANWHILE in a small frying pan over a medium heat, fry the cumin, mustard seeds and garlic in 1 table spoon of oil, until the garlic is light brown (about 1-2 minutes, watch the garlic carefully as the garlic can burn easily and quickly)
- CAREFULLY pour the oil, cumin, mustard seed and garlic mixture into lentil curry. Stir, add fresh cilantro and cover with a lid to intensify and retain the aromas and flavour!
- SERVE immediately over warm rice or with naan.