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Dahl/Tarka Dahl Recipe

A thin lentil or chick pea purée, rather like thick soup, and used as an accompaniment to curry.
It is often served with garlic when it is known as Tarka Dal.
The traditional Indian version is much thinner and indeed more watery than that found in most Anglo-Indian restaurants – but can be found if you go to Bradford, Southall or Tooting.
We have to say we prefer the Angolfied version, but double the quantity of water will produce the more authentic version.
The addition of 2 peeled, and finely-chopped cloves of garlic, when you add the onion and chilis will give you Tarka Dhal.

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Key Features

  • Suitable for Vegetarians


For 4 helpings:

6 oz/180gr Red Split Lentils (Masoor Dhal)
1¼ pints/750ml Water
1 teaspoon (5ml) Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon (5ml) Salt
1 teaspoon (5ml) Ground Turmeric
1 oz/30gr Unsalted or Clarified Butter (or Ghee if you have a handy Indian grocer)
1 medium Onion, peeled, and finely chopped
1 fresh Red Chili, finely-chopped (then wash your hands)


1. Put the split red lentils in the water and the cumin, salt and turmeric into a non-reactionary saucepan (so not aluminium) and bring the mixture to the boil.
2. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a further 40 minutes, partially covered.
3. Remove the mixture from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, then pass it through a sieve or narrow-gauge colinder.
4. In a separate pan, melt the butter or ghee over a low heat and 'sweat' the onions and chili until the onion is soft and golden. Add the garlic (if using) and cook for a further 2 minutes.
5. Mix the onion mixture in with the lentils and serve.

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tarka dahl
tarka dahl