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Straightforward Tarka Dal (Vegan Crimson Lentil Curry)

Tarka dal is a straightforward lentil curry that is a success each time. With just some fragrant spices, you possibly can rework a couple of humble lentils right into a creamy, intensely flavourful dish, which might be served by itself, or as a facet. It is my go-to dish to order at an Indian restaurant, as a result of the flavours are simply unreal, and it is good scooped up with some chapattis or naan bread!

A bowlful of lentil curry with chapattis and cilantro.

Lentils are so underrated. They could be an affordable and humble ingredient, however that is what’s so fantastic about them! You possibly can prepare dinner lentils in so many various methods (listed below are some lentil recipe concepts!), and it would not take a lot to rework them into one thing really particular.

Tarka dal (also called tadka dal) is one among my all-time favorite lentil recipes. It is a easy lentil curry that is made with essentially the most irresistible, fragrant elements – like toasted spices, fried onions and garlic – which actually carry the lentils to life.

Served with rice or naan bread, or scooped up in chapattis, tarka dal by no means disappoints.

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โค๏ธ Why You will Love This Recipe

  • It tastes unbelievable.
  • It takes solely half-hour to prepare dinner.
  • You possibly can serve it by itself as a major course, or as a facet dish alongside your favorite Indian curry – like my simple falafel curry, for instance.
  • It is easy to adapt by swapping the spices, or including further greens.
  • It is vegan, gluten-free, and tremendous wholesome – however nonetheless tastes wonderful.

๐Ÿฅ— Components

Here is what you may must make this straightforward lentil curry:

Ingredients for tarka dal (lentil curry) with labels..
  • crimson lentils. Crimson lentils prepare dinner extra shortly than brown and inexperienced lentils, and find yourself a lot softer, so that they’re good for tarka dal. You could find out extra concerning the various kinds of lentils right here. For this recipe, I would not advocate utilizing brown or inexperienced lentils.
  • chopped chillies. I used frozen ones, as I do not use recent chillies typically sufficient to get by a complete pack with out losing some. Frozen greens are nice for decreasing meals waste, they usually come pre-chopped too! Be at liberty to make use of recent crimson chillies should you choose.
  • cilantro for garnish (optionally available, however really useful!).
  • onion and garlic
  • tomato paste
  • floor spices – turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon.

See the printable recipe card beneath for detailed ingredient portions.

๐Ÿ‘Œ Prime tip

Should you do not wish to hold too many various spices within the kitchen, garam masala is a good choice for Indian cooking. It’s a mix of assorted spices that offers an important base for many Indian-style curries, quite than shopping for every spice individually.

You should buy garam masala on-line, on Amazon US.

๐Ÿ”„ Ingredient Swaps

Be at liberty to make this recipe your individual – it is very easy to customize.

Listed below are a couple of methods you would adapt this recipe:

  • If you do not have the spices I’ve listed, you possibly can completely strive a distinct mixture. For instance, swap the cinnamon for nutmeg, or add some smoked paprika as a substitute of the cumin. Clearly the top outcome will find yourself tasting barely completely different, however small adjustments ought to nonetheless style good.
  • Should you wish to get some further greens into your meals wherever you possibly can, strive including some frozen peas or spinach to the lentils as they prepare dinner.
  • Stir by some coconut milk or cream earlier than serving for an additional luxurious lentil curry.

๐Ÿ”ช Tools

I at all times use a silicone spoon when cooking a aromatic curry, or the rest with a powerful flavour – you possibly can see my favorite vivid pink one in virtually all of my recipe photographs!

Not like with a picket spoon, silicone would not take up flavours out of your cooking, so you need to use it for curry sooner or later, and custard the subsequent, with none flavour contamination or staining. Silicone spoons are even dishwasher protected, to assist with thorough washing.

My favorite form is a spoon with barely sq. corners, because it makes it really easy to scrape across the corners of a saucepan. You should buy them right here on Amazon US / Amazon UK.

Apart from that, you do not want any specialist tools to make this lentil curry. It is a one pot meal, so only a respectable saucepan is all you want!

๐Ÿ“‹ Directions

Here is the best way to make this lovely tarka dal – see beneath for the printable recipe with detailed elements and directions.

Chopped onion and spices cooking in a saucepan.

Step 1: Start by cooking the aromatics in a pan with a splash of oil – this consists of the garlic, onion, chillies, and all the spices.

Onion, spices and tomato puree cooking in a saucepan.

Step 2: Add the tomato paste, and prepare dinner for a couple of extra minutes till the combination is effectively cooked (your own home ought to scent unbelievable by now!).

A hand stirring lentils cooking in liquid in a saucepan.

Step 3: Add the crimson lentils and a few water, and produce to a mild simmer. Permit to prepare dinner till the lentils are gentle, then serve.

Soft cooked lentils in a saucepan.

๐Ÿ‘Œ Prime tip

As quickly because the lentils are fully gentle, you possibly can eat your tarka dal. Nevertheless, if in case you have time, I might actually advocate leaving it to simmer for some time longer (maybe one other 10 minutes), till the lentils have damaged proper down. It makes the top outcome further creamy and irresistible!

๐Ÿ’ญ Tarka Dal FAQs

What’s tarka dal?

Tarka‘ means utilizing spices cooked in oil or ghee. And the phrase ‘dal‘ normally refers to lentils. Whenever you put these two ideas collectively, you get tarka dal! It’s an Indian lentil dish that begins with cooking numerous spices and different fragrant elements in oil.

Is tarka dal spicy?

You possibly can prepare dinner your tarka dal to be as spicy as you prefer it – both add further chillies, for a very sizzling dish, or skip them fully should you like your curry to be milder. Even with out the chillies, the recipe comprises loads of spices, which add heaps of flavour with out including a spicy warmth.

Is tarka dal wholesome?

I am positive the tarka dal I purchase from my favorite Indian restaurant is cooked with much more oil or ghee than I might use at residence, so is probably extra of a ‘special day’ form of dish. Nevertheless, this home made tarka dal is made with only one Tablespoon of oil, and loads of wholesome complete elements – so there isn’t any cause this model should not be thought of ‘wholesome’ as a part of a balanced food regimen.

serve tarka dal

Tarka dal might be thought of to be a facet dish or a major course, relying on what you serve it with. This time I served mine with just a few chapattis on the facet (good for scooping up the lentils!), however I additionally like to serve it alongside some rice and one other tasty vegetable curry.

Are you able to freeze tarka dal?

Sure! This tarka dal recipe is ideal for batch cooking after which freezing. Simply prepare dinner it absolutely, then freeze any leftovers in an air-tight tub (you possibly can double or triple the recipe if you’d like extra leftovers!). To reheat, use a microwave, or a pan on the stovetop – you might want so as to add an additional splash of water when reheating.

๐Ÿ› Extra Vegetarian Curry Recipes

Bowl of tarka dal topped with cilantro, with chapattis on the side.

๐Ÿ“– Printable Recipe

Bowl of tarka dal topped with fresh cilatro.

Straightforward Tarka Dal (Vegan Crimson Lentil Curry)

Tarka dal is the final word easy lentil curry – just some fragrant spices can rework a couple of lentils right into a creamy, richly flavourful dish!

Should you’ve cooked this recipe, do not forget to depart a star ranking!


Course: Foremost meals, Facet Dish

Delicacies: Indian

Food plan: Vegan, Vegetarian

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook dinner Time: 20 minutes

Whole Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 2 individuals

Energy: 380kcal


  • Warmth the oil in a saucepan, and add the onion, garlic, chillies, and the 4 spices. Cook dinner over a medium warmth for about 5 minutes, till the onion has begun to melt. Add the tomato puree, and prepare dinner for a couple of extra minutes, stirring usually.

  • Add the crimson lentils, water and salt, and produce to a mild simmer (medium warmth). Stirring usually, enable the lentils to prepare dinner till they’re gentle, and a lot of the extra water has been absorbed. If the combination begins to dry up earlier than the lentils are fully gentle, add a splash extra water.

  • The tarka dal might be able to eat as quickly because the lentils are fully gentle, however if in case you have slightly further time, I like to recommend leaving it to simmer gently for a bit longer (maybe a further 10 minutes after the lentils have softened), because the lentils will start to interrupt down, and can make the dal further creamy. Should you do prepare dinner the lentils for slightly longer, you may in all probability want slightly further water.

  • Serve topped with recent coriander (cilantro), if desired.


I used frozen chopped chillies, however recent chillies can be utilized as a substitute if desired.
Leftovers might be frozen in an air-tight tub if wanted. Reheat within the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop (you might want so as to add an additional splash of water).


Serving: 1 portionEnergy: 380 kcalCarbohydrates: 56.6 gProtein: 21.8 gFats: 7.9 gSaturated Fats: 1 gLdl cholesterol: 0 mgSodium: 1190 mgPotassium: 955 mgFiber: 26.1 gSugar: 5 gCalcium: 88 mgIron: 7 mg

Dietary data is approximate, and can rely in your precise elements. Please calculate your individual dietary values should you require accuracy for well being causes.



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