Dal is the mainstay of Indian vegetarian cuisine, providing a healthy dose of protein in each serving. Dal refers to dried pulses that have been been stripped of outer hull and split (Source: Wiki). There are a variety of dals like Toor Dal (split yellow pigeon peas), Masoor Dal (red lentils), Moong Dal (mung beans), Chana Dal (split chikpea) and Urad Dal (split black gram). Some dal preparations involve whole (unsplit) lentils and it would be specified as such in recipes.

Tadka Dal is the basic preparation of split dal, where the dal is cooked until soft and tempered with spice & flavor infused oil. The process of infusing oil with spices is called tadka or baghar. The ingredients in the tadka vary by region and personal preferences. Common tempering ingredients include mustard seeds, cumin seeds, panch phoran, asafoetida, garlic, ginger, green and red chilies. The recipe here is for a basic South Indian dal using Toor Dal.

Tadka Dal - Thick
Basic Tadka Dal

Recipe Name: Basic Tadka Dal (Indian split lentils Soup/Split lentils in tempered oil)
Cooking Time: 30 minutes (20 minutes to cook lentils and 10 minutes to prepare the tadka dal)
Serves: 4 people
Cooking Level: Beginner/Easy
Recipe/Post by: Vani
2 cups Toor Dal/Split Yellow Pigeon Peas
6-7 cups Water
1 tsp Turmeric (optional)
2-3 Green Chilies/Serrano Peppers, chopped
1 tbsp Lime Juice
1 tbsp Cilantro/Coriander Leaves, chopped
Salt to taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tbsp Canola or Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 spring Curry Leaves
1/8 tsp Hing/Asafoetida

Special Utensils:
Pressure Cooker

Tadka Dal Ingredients
Ingredients for Tadka Dal

  1. Wash toor dal in 3-4 changes of water, until the water runs clear.
  2. Cook the dal, water and turmeric in a pressure cooker. Once the steam starts to escape, add the cooker weight and cook until 2-3 whistles, until the dal is well cooked and soft.
  3. Once the pressure from the cooker is released, heat oil in a separate pot. Add mustard seeds. They will start to crackle in about a minute or so. Then add asafoetida, curry leaves and chopped green chilies/serrano peppers. Fry for 20 seconds.
  4. Pour in the cooked dal and salt to taste. Mix well and bring to a boil.
  5. Add lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro.
  6. Serve with rice or roti/bread.
Special Notes/Tips:
  • If not using a pressure cooker, the dal can be cooked in a large pot with water and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Clear any froth that forms at the top. Cook on low until the dal is soft. Add more water, if needed. Cooking this way increases the cooking time by at least 15 minutes.
  • The consistency of the dal can be varied. For a thinner version, add more water while cooking dal.

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  1. Vcuisine // 29 April 2009 at 13:47  

    Vani, beautiful picture. We can drink as such. I normally use ghee for tempering and it adds flavor. Viji

  2. Parita // 29 April 2009 at 14:24  

    Love the simple dal, the picture looks beautiful

  3. Sia // 29 April 2009 at 15:16  

    One of the comfort foods that can lift my mood any time of the day :) gorgeous pics Vani.

  4. Khaugiri // 29 April 2009 at 16:31  

    Pictures are tempting!!! Tadka Dal with tandoor roti..... my favourite.

  5. Ramya Vijaykumar // 29 April 2009 at 17:21  

    wow picture perfect lovely dhal and color is simply gorgeous...

  6. Kitchen Flavours // 29 April 2009 at 17:58  

    I bookmarked from your blog Vani...Yet to try this...Looks droolworthy...

  7. Ashwini // 29 April 2009 at 19:03  

    Just made this over the weekend. Simple and delicious..Lovely picture.

  8. Bharati // 29 April 2009 at 19:15  

    Very delightful capture!! Well explained Dal recipe.

  9. Kalyani // 29 April 2009 at 20:47  

    Wow!! love the dal ... its so tempting ....& my favorite ....

  10. Vanamala // 29 April 2009 at 23:31  

    I used to make similar one...lovely pic

  11. Madhu // 30 April 2009 at 02:20  

    Simple dal like this is always comforting..Nice pics Vani.

  12. rekhas kitchen // 30 April 2009 at 10:48  

    love this simple dish any time nice color

  13. meeso // 1 May 2009 at 00:45  

    Nice picture, it looks so simple and delicious!

  14. Pavithra // 1 May 2009 at 06:31  

    picture is looking so beautiful.. Love dhal always.. Lovely presentation too

  15. sunshinemom // 1 May 2009 at 13:55  

    Great pictures and a lovely recipe - basic and necessary!