Tadka daal

Tadka daal

Sizzled lentils

Mr Todiwala's Bombay
Helen Cathcart

Daal is the mainstay for a large proportion of the Indian population. In fact seventy-five to eighty per cent of households make some type of it in their homes daily! Daal is that one thing which even the poorest can afford to make and it is wholesome and filling. There are hundreds of daal recipes of which this is, perhaps, the most popular. You can also sizzle a spoonful of black mustard seeds and raw channa daal (yellow split peas) along with the other spices in the tadka for a different flavour. Try it another time.


Quantity Ingredient
250g red lentils
250g yellow lentils
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt, to taste
50g butter
100ml sunflower or rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 green chillies, split lengthways
1-2 dried red chillies, broken into pieces
5-6 garlic cloves
good pinch ground asafoetida, (optional)


  1. Mix the 2 lentils in a deep bowl and wash them thoroughly in plenty of cold water, stirring them round, draining and refreshing the water repeatedly until it is almost clear.
  2. Now soak them in plenty of fresh cold water for 5–6 hours. When the lentils have almost doubled in size you can boil them.
  3. Tip them with their water in a deep pan to allow for expansion and add more water to come to 4 cm above the level of the lentils. Add the turmeric and a little salt. Bring to the boil stirring slowly from time to time so as not to let the lentils stick to the bottom of the pan. Skim the surface of scum if necessary. Add the butter when the scum has ceased. Simmer until the lentils are porridge-like and have absorbed most of the water, about 25 minutes.
  4. When the lentils are cooked, remove from the heat. If liked, purée with a hand blender (but this isn’t strictly necessary).
  5. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or a wok. When it is almost at smoking point add the cumin, chillies and garlic. Stir and cook until the garlic is golden in colour but not dark brown. Add the asafoetida, if using, as soon as the garlic is ready and remove from the heat.
  6. Pour the contents of the pan in one go on to the lentils and stir well (it will sizzle and steam so keep your face away whilst doing this). Taste and re-season if necessary. Serve straight away, or cool quickly and store in the refrigerator. You will need to add a little water when reheating.
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