Perfect Tarka Dhal


  • Fill a large mug with lentils (ideally orange lentils, white urad dhal, or split mung dhal). Empty the lentils into a strainer and rinse very well. You should keep rinsing the lentils until the water runs clear.
  • Warm a bit of rapeseed oil, butter or ghee in a large saucepan and add the lentils. Cover with at least 1L of water and a sprinkling of sea salt. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat allowing to simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Stir regularly and don’t be shy to add a few splashes of extra water as the lentils cook and the water absorbs. You want the lentils to get tender and the dhal to be smooth and creamy.

While the lentils are simmering, make the tarka, or tempering.

  • Heat some rapeseed oil, ghee or butter in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot add some cumin seeds and about 3 large banana shallots, finely sliced. Cook for around 5 minutes.
  • Add 2 tiny green birds eye chillies, sliced and 2-3 large cloves of garlic, crushed. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes, until the shallots brown and caramelise. Add heaped tablespoons of turmeric and garam masala.
  • If the dhal is too thick, add a bit of hot water and stir. Then, tip the tarka into the dhal, reserving about ¼ of it, and stir it in well.
  • Serve up with the reserved onions scattered on top, fresh coriander, lime wedges, yoghurt, basmati rice or rotis.



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