Tarka Dhal

*Edited
Sorry for the long silence. Between getting sick and starting a second job I just haven’t had the time to sit down and blog as much as I would like. I am hoping this week to start carving out more time to dedicate to the blogging world so I can get back into things. This post accidentally went out on Thursday minus any images and after I discovered it went out I quickly took it down. So now I am over due it to you so here we go.

A few weeks ago someone asked if anyone had some good Indian Curry recipes, I thought to myself ‘Oh of course I do, I make curry a few times a month’. But then I looked through my posts and I realized I didn’t have as many as I thought I did. Shame on me.

Curry is the national dish of in England and it is a cuisine that we love and enjoy every month. So I am rectifying the lack of good Indian curry dishes with this fantastic lentil curry, Tarka Dhal. I never knew how much I could love lentils until I tried my first lentil curry, which admittedly wasn’t Indian but Malaysian. When I was 14 we went to Malaysia and I was first introduced to lentil curry. I had only eaten one type of curry dish up until that point but I discovered curry is so much more then just one dish. I have to admit I had no idea how vast the curry world was. The possibilities are endless, there are sweet curries, spicy curries, creamy curries, tomato based curries, vegetable curries, meat curries, I really could go on. If I posted a curry recipe every day I probably wouldn’t run out of unique recipes to share after several months. I could almost guarantee that if you don’t like curry there is probably a curry out there for you. Different cultures have their own versions and their own mixture of spices. I was recently introduced to North African curries and now have a new culinary cuisine that I can’t live without.

One of the wonderful things about a Dhal curry (lentil curry) is they are very cheap to make. I keep all of these ingredients on hand so recipes like this make their way into my kitchen frequently when my budget is at its tightest. This recipe was a new one for my to try and I have to admit I was slightly confused by some of the original instructions and I had to make a few changes to match what I had on hand. I am a bit confused by the original recipe’s instructions for what you do with the chillies. The result is a bit strange of a process and I am not sure what it adds but I will say this tasted wonderful so I guess in the end that is all that matters. Right?

Tarka Dhal

250g (1 1/2 c.) red lentils, rinsed until the water runs clear
1 litre (4 1/4 c.) water
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 whole green chillies, pricked with a knife (my chillies were large so I just added 2)
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
3 tomatoes
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
3/4 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
Adapted from BBC Food


Rinse the lentils really well. You want the water to run clear and when you first start rinsing the lentils the water will appear milky so keep rinsing until it is completely clear. Then add the lentils and 900ml/1¾ pints of the water into a pan, stir well and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the water with a spoon. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender, adding more water as necessary. Remove from heat and use a whisk to break down the lentils. Personally I like to set aside 1/3 of the lentils before breaking them down for added texture. Set the mixture aside to thicken and cool.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 20-30 seconds, or until fragrant. Sadly when I started making this I realized that I didn’t have any cumin seeds, so instead I added the onion, chillies and ginger and fried for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown. I then added 1/2 Tbsp of ground cumin to the onions. I think the toasted cumin seeds would have been nicer but this seems to have worked.

Blend the garlic and tomatoes to a purée in a food processor.

Add the pureed tomatoes to the pan with the onions combine. Add the rest of the ground spices and 100mL of water to the pan and stir well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Add the cooked lentils to the sauce and stir well, adding more water as necessary to loosen the mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add chopped coriander just before serving.

Tarka Dhal
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 150g (1½ c.) red lentils
  • 1 litre (4¼ c.) water
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3-4 whole green chillies, pricked with a knife
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2–4 dried de-seeded red chillies
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • 3 tomatoes
  • ¾ tsp ground turmeric
  • ¾ tsp garam masala
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • Salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 20-30 seconds, or until fragrant. Sadly when I started making this I realized that I didn't have any cumin seeds, so instead I added the onion, chillies and ginger and fried for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown. I then added ½ Tbsp of ground cumin to the onions. I think the toasted cumin seeds would have been nicer but this seems to have worked.
  2. Blend the garlic and tomatoes to a purée in a food processor.
  3. Add the pureed tomatoes to the pan with the onions combine. Add the rest of the ground spices and 100mL of water to the pan and stir well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked lentils to the sauce and stir well, adding more water as necessary to loosen the mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add chopped coriander just before serving.

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2 Responses to Tarka Dhal

  1. kate says:

    I love tarka dahl it’s one of my favourites! I will try your recipe for sure

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