Tarka Dal

Tarka dal with accompaniments
Recipe by Joe Jones
  • Recipe difficulty - medium
  • Preparation time - 10 minutes
  • Cooking time - 30 minutes
  • Serves - 4
  • Dietary - Vegetarian Vegan Dairy free
  • Allergens -

A gently spiced, comforting and warming lentil dish, which is a must as part of any indian meal.

The addition of coconut milk is from the southern indian style.



Dal Ingredients

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe tomato, roughly chopped
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 500g red lentils

Tarka Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable (rapeseed) oil
  • 10 dried curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds


  • Chopping board
  • Kitchen scales
  • Knife
  • Large saucepan
  • Measuring jug
  • Small saucepan with a thick bottom
  • Wooden spoon


Dal Method

  1. In a large saucepan, place 500ml of water with the lentils, roughly chopped large onion, coconut milk, tomato, red chilli, turmeric, ground cumin and coriander and bring up to the boil
  2. Stir well, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for around 25 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are cooked to a soft mush. If the water evaporates before the lentils are cooked, add 125ml of boiling water

Tarka Method

  1. In a small saucepan, heat the oil on a low heat
  2. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds, place a lid on top and allow the seeds to start popping
  3. Add the finely chopped onion and curry leaves and fry on a low heat until the onion is golden brown
  4. Tip the onion and spice mix into the simmering lentils, add a pinch or two of salt to taste and cook for another 5 minutes

Nutrition per serving portion (serves 4)

Each portion provides on average

  • Energy

    854kj 204kcal 10.2%
  • Fat

    5.55g 8%
  • Saturates

    0.45g 2%
  • Carbohydrates

    30.5g 31%
  • Sugars

    8.57g 10%
  • Salt

    0.3g 5%
  • Protein

    10.6g Med
  • Fibre

    1.97g Low


Lentils are a great source of plant based protein, helping to keep us feeling fuller for longer.

Vitamins and Minerals

Lentils are also a good source of a variety of important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B-6, iron, potassium and magnesium.