Monday 6 April 2009

Seasoned (Tadka) Dal (also spelt as Dahl/Daal/Dhal)

Nutritious and easy to cook dish that is the staple food in many Indian households.

PREP TIME 10 Min + 20 Min (soaking - but soak overnight if possible)
COOK TIME 30 Min (with a pressure cooker, longer if without)

Original recipe yield: Serves 2-3 with other complementary side dishes

Masoor Dal (Red beans)- 1/2th of a cup
Mung Dal (Yellow beans) - 1/2th of a cup
Water - 3 cups
Oil - 1 tbsp
Onion - 1 med., finely chopped
Turmeric Powder - 1/4th tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander Powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder - to taste
Salt - to taste

For Seasoning (Tadka):
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (also known as hing) - pinch
Curry Leaves - few (optional)
Garlic - 2 cloves, finely chopped
Ginger - 1 tsp, grated
Green Chillis - to taste, slit
Lime Juice - to taste
Cilantro - Finely chopped for garnishing purpose

1. Combine all the dals, rinse with water at least 3-5 times. Soak for 20-30 minutes.

2. Drain out the water and put it in a pressure cooker.

3. Add water, salt into the pressure cooker. Cook the dals on medium heat and wait for the whistling (3 times). If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can use a saucepan instead, but you may have to cook for up to 30 minutes longer.

4. Meanwhile, in a pan, heat the oil on medium flame. Once the oil is hot, add in the turmeric powder and the asafoetida.

7. We can then add in the onions and a little salt thereafter and saute the onions till they turn translucent.

8. Once done, the dry powders such as cumin powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder can be added.

9. Roast the powders for approximately 10-15 seconds.

10. Stir the above mixture into the dals, check the salt and water consistency and allow it to boil for 4-5 minutes. At this stage you can add in more water if required, depending on the dal consistency you desire.

11. Pour in a serving dish and set aside.

12. For the tadka, take a small frying pan and heat up the oil on medium heat.

13. Once hot, add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop.

14. Add in cumin seeds, curry leaves (optional), green chillis, garlic, ginger and cook for a few minutes.

15. Top the dals with this tadka. Top further with lime juice and garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves.

Note: I have replaced the usage of ghee with sunflower oil instead, which is a lower fat version.

Lime juice can be replaced with lemon juice.

Soaking the dals overnight is useful in helping to shorten the cooking time if you do not have a pressure cooker.


A healthy vegetarian dish which provides the requisite proteins required for a balanced diet.

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