Dal tadka recipe is a healthy, delicious, comforting & easy to make lentil dish from Indian cuisine. It is a popular Indian food, a lentil curry made with toor dal (split pigeon pea) or moong dal (yellow lentils). It is a simple vegetarian Indian meal that is so comforting and delicious.
In this recipe, lentils are cooked with onion, tomatoes , chilies and tempered with whole spices. The tempering added to the cooked lentils is called tadka. This wholesome creamy dal tastes delicious with rice or roti.
This post will help you make best restaurant style dal tadka with amazing flavors and buttery texture. For more Indian dal recipes please check dal makhani, maa ki dal, dal fry, moong dal recipe, chana dal recipes.
Does your family despise dal made at home but enjoy the same in restaurants? I often hear from moms that their kids do not care for dal at home but happily eat the same at restaurants. If that is the case, why not make absolutely delicious restaurant style tadka dal at home and surprise everyone?
Making tasty restaurant quality flavorful food at home is easy and does not take much of your time. With some techniques and tips you can make amazing dal with pantry ingredients and within 30 minutes.
Here I am sharing my keeper recipe dal tarka along with many tips, few variations and serving suggestions. I have also covered the recipe for making Punjabi dal tadka in instant pot. I hope you will find this useful!
What Is Dal Tadka?
Dal tadka or Punjabi tadka dal is a Indian lentil dish where dal or lentils are cooked with onion, tomatoes and finished with a flavorful tempering of whole spices in oil or ghee.
Tadka dal is one the most popular yet basic Indian dal recipes in restaurants as well as homes. Restaurant version is obviously more elaborate compared to home style ones just like most Indian recipes.
Dal means lentils and tadka means tempering in English. So this Punjabi dal tadka dish is cooked dal with a flavorful tempering when simply put.
Dal is common term for lentils, so you can make dal tadka with any type of lentils. In restaurants they usually use a mix of toor dal and masoor dal. Masoor dal is split red lentils are less expensive compared to toor dal or pigeon peas, so restaurants use them for volume.
At home you can make yellow dal tadka recipe with petite yellow lentils or moong dal, just use toor dal or use a mix of various lentils as you like. The base recipe remains the same.
Here I have used a mix of arhar dal or toor dal or split pigeon peas, chana dal and moong dal. Adding moong dal lends a buttery texture and chana dal lends a nice flavor here. Some times I make the same recipe with moong dal or toor dal alone too.
As most the lentils, irrespective of the variety are yellow in color when cooked, this dish is called yellow dal tadka in many places. It is best served with jeera rice, steamed rice, butter naan, plain basmati rice etc.
Why This Recipe Works?
My recipe dal tadka will help you make a super delicious dal with amazing flavor. While I have used toor dal only here to show you the exact restaurant style dal recipe, I am also sharing loads of variations in this post.
For Vegetarians in India, dal or lentils are the most relied source of protein. Thankfully there are so many varieties of lentils and so many vegetarian recipes made with them, they are never boring.
Lentils are used to make so many delicious recipes in Indian cooking across the country with region having its own specialties.
However the most common complaint one gets about dal recipes are they are bland and pasty. In this post I am sharing my recipe to make punjabi tadka dal that tastes amazing, not bland at all and has a buttery texture.
The ingredients used for tadka dal are simple pantry staple ones. Along with lentils you will need chopped onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic, green chilies. The spice powders used are red chilli powder, turmeric powder and dash of garam masala powder.
For the final tempering of tadka you will need oil or ghee, cumin seeds, red chillies, chopped garlic. The dal is finally garnished with coriander leaves and some lemon juice is added before serving.
To get the smoky flavor in dal just like restaurants, you can use dhungar method or even add a dash of liquid smoke.
You can cook this recipe on stove top in a pot or use a pressure cooker or instant pot. The step by step photos are for making dal tadka in pressure cooker and I have included instructions for other two methods.
Do try out this simple and easy tadka dal recipe and enjoy. It is
simple, easy and quick to make
tasty just like dal tadka from your favorite restaurants
delicious with rice or roti
packed with wonderful flavors.
How To Make Dal Tadka Recipe
Pick and rinse the lentils well. I have used 1/2 cup toor dal or arhar dal, 1/4 cup moong dal and 2 tablespoons chana dal. Add the rinsed dal to a pressure cooker.
Add 2 cups of water, a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Salt and turmeric is for cooking the lentils well. Close the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles in medium flame. If you are using an instant pot to cook the lentils cook for 12 minutes in manual or pressure cooker mode.
Once done, switch off the flame and let the pressure release naturally. Mash the boiled dal well and set aside.
Make Onion Tomato Masala
Now to make the first tempering or tadka for dal heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 bay leaf to the hot oil. Saute for a minute.
Add chopped onions, 2 slit green chili and 1 teaspoon minced ginger and garlic. Saute well for another minute.
Next add chopped tomatoes and saute. Also add red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft and the masala leaves out oil from the sides in medium heat.
Add the mashed dal to this masala. Season with salt and add 3/4 cups of water. Mix well and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Switch off the flame.
Smoke the dal
This is an optional step to infuse some smoky flavor to the dal You can do this if you have good quality wooden charcoal handy.
To infuse smoky restaurant flavors in punjabi dal tadka here is what you do. Using a pair of tongs heat a large piece of wooden coal until blazing hot. Place it in a small cup and place the cup inside the simmering dal and add 1/2 teaspoon ghee. Close the lid tightly and let flavor of coal infuse the lentils for 3-4 minutes.
Remove the bowl containing flame and transfer the lentils to a serving bowl.
Make The Tempering
For final tadka heat ghee in a small pan or tadka pan. Once the ghee is hot add cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 3 dried red chilies, 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder. Fry for 2 minutes in low flame. I have also added few curry leaces.
Add this tadka to the prepared dal. Mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and remove from flame. Add lemon juice and mix. Serve hot with cooked rice or roti.
Instant Pot Method
To make this recipe in instant pot you don’t have to cook the lentils beforehand. Just rinse the lentils and keep them ready.
Place the steel insert inside your instant pot and switch it on. Press saute. Once it displays hot add oil to it
Temper with mustard, cumin seeds and fry for few seconds. Add chopped onions, minced ginger garlic and slit green chilies.
Mix well and saute till the onions turn soft.
Add chopped tomatoes.
Next add red chili powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder and cook until the tomatoes turn soft.
Add 1/2 cup water to deglaze the pan. Scrape off any masala stuck at the bottom.
Add rinsed lentils.
Add 2 cups water and salt to taste.
Bring to a boil. Cancel the saute and close the instant pot.
Press pressure cook or manual mode and set timer for 12 minutes with pressure valve sealed.
Once the IP beeps, let the pressure settle down naturally for 5 minutes. Then release the residual pressure gently.
Make tadka– heat ghee in a small pan in the meantime. Add cumin seeds, dried red chilies, chopped garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder and garam masala powder. Pour this tadka to the prepared dal along with ghee. Garnish with coriander leaves and kasuri methi. Serve dal tadka hot.
If you do not want to use pressure cooker or an instant pot you can boil dal on stovetop. For this method I suggest you soak the lentils for an hour for quick cooking.
Add rinsed lentils to a large pot and add 2.5 cups water followed by a pinch of salt and turmeric. Cover and cook for 20-25 minutes in medium flame. Add more water if required while the lentils are cooking.
Once the lentils are well cooked and mushy, remove from flame and mash well again.
Proceed with the recipe as mentioned above.
Tips To Make Best Dal Tadka
Choosing Lentils– You can use any variety of lentils here. Instead of using a mix of chana dal, toor dal and moong dal you could just use moong or torr dal. Do note that chana dal adds a wonderful flavor. You can also use masoor dal red lentils.
Soaking Lentils– It is really not necessary to soak lentils if you are going to cook in a pressure cooker or instant pot. However if you are cooking lentils in a pot, soaking them briefly will reduce the cook time.
Cooking dal– make sure to cook the lentils thoroughly and mash them well for that buttery texture. However while mashing the lentils add some water to avoid them getting very pasty.
Spices and herbs– The herbs and spices used in this dal tadka recipe are pretty basic ones. You can easily vary the amount to suit your taste. If you have curry leaves you can add them in tadka along with garlic. Same way you can also add some kasuri methi. It is all about using whatever spices you have handy and enhance the taste.
Consistency– The consistency of dal tadka is a personal choice. I like to make it like a thick lentil soup when I am serving with rice and a bit more thick when serving with rotis. Add more or less water as required while the dal is simmering.
Dal tadka goes very well with both rice and rotis. You can serve this dal with plain steamed basmati rice, jeera rice, peas pulao, biryani rice, ghee rice, saffron pulao etc.
Pair it with a salad like kachumber or onion salad or raita like veg raita, onion raita, cucumber raita and any vegetable recipe like aloo fry, okra fry or gajar matar or a complete meal.
You can also serve this with just rice, a papad, pickle and plain yogurt for a quick comforting meal.
You can also serve dal tadka with flatbreads like butter naan, vegan naan, kulcha, paratha etc. Add some cucumber slices, onion slices and a pickle for a complete meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Moong dal is one of the lentils highest in protein and low in calories.
Yes, my recipe does not use hing or asafoetida so it is gluten free
The process of tempering whole spices in oil is called Tadka
Yes, it is packed with protein and also has the goodness of herbs and spices. The tadka is made with ghee which is also healthy fat. So it is healthy to consume it in moderation like any dish.
Just replace ghee with oil.
More Lentils Recipes
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Restaurant Style Dal Tadka
1 CUP = 250 ml
- 1/2 cup split pigeon peas toor dal
- 1/4 cup moong dal
- 2 tablespoons chana dal
- 1/2 cup onions chopped
- 1 cup tomatoes chopped
- 2 green chilies slit
- 1/2 inch ginger peeled and crushed
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- Salt to taste
- water as needed
To Smoke Dal (Optional Step)
- A small piece of charcoal
- 1/2 teaspoon ghee or oil
Tadka For Dal
- 1 tablespoon ghee OR oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 dried red chilies
- 10 curry leaves
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- Some coriander leaves for garnish.
- Pick and rinse the lentils well. I have used 1/2 cup toor dal or arhar dal, 1/4 cup moong dal and 2 tablespoons chana dal. Add the rinsed dal to a pressure cooker.
- Add 2 cups of water, a pinch of turmeric powder and salt. Salt and turmeric is for cooking the lentils well. Close the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 4-5 whistles in medium flame. If you are using an instant pot to cook the lentils cook for 12 minutes in manual or pressure cooker mode.
- Once done, switch off the flame and let the pressure release naturally. Mash the boiled dal well and set aside.
- Now to make the first tempering or tadka for dal heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 bay leaf to the hot oil. Saute for a minute.
- Add chopped onions, 2 slit green chili and 1 teaspoon minced ginger and garlic. Saute well for another minute.
- Next add chopped tomatoes and saute. Also add red chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder. Cook until the tomatoes turn soft and the masala leaves out oil from the sides in medium heat.
- Add the mashed dal to this masala. Season with salt and add 3/4 cups of water. Mix well and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Switch off the flame.
- For final tadka heat ghee in a small pan or tadka pan. Once the ghee is hot add cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 3 dried red chilies, 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder. Fry for 2 minutes in low flame. I have also added few curry leaves.
- Add this tadka to the prepared dal. Mix well. Garnish with coriander leaves and remove from flame. Add lemon juice and mix. Serve hot with cooked rice or roti.
2. Adding garlic to the tadka is optional too.