Tarka Dhal

Cuisine: Indian

Prep time:

Cook time:

Serves: 4-6

Tarka Dhal is an essential Indian side dish, and a perfect vegetarian meal in itself. The key to a creamy dhal is to whisk the soft cooked lentils so they break down. Tempering is the fried garnish on Indian food, and adds a great finish and flavour to the dish.


For a soupier consistency, add more water when combining lentils with spices.


  1. Place lentils in a saucepan with 750ml cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes until lentils are very tender (test by squeezing between your fingers). Skim the scum that rises to the surface during early cooking.
  2. Whisk soft lentils for a minute so that a good proportion of the lentils break down; set aside.
  3. Heat coconut oil in a large pan and sauté onions, garlic and ginger for 3-4 minutes. Add fresh chilli, and spice mix and stir for another minute. Add lentils to the pan with tomato and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and season to taste.
  4. To temper, melt coconut oil in a small frying pan and add curry leaves and panch phora. Cook for 2-3 minutes until leaves are crisp.
  5. Serve dhal with tempered spices on top as part of a banquet or simply with rice and naan bread.