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Dal Tadka a humble, flavorful dish, one of the most popular Dal recipes made with Toor Dal(most commonly used) and is enjoyed best with steamed rice along with some chutney or pickle of choice, an ultimate comfort food. For many like me, it brings the memory of mom’s fresh homemade food. Arhar Dal Tadka is my dad’s favorite dal. Till date, if you ask him what to make his answer is Dal-Chawal!! Every second day he can have Dal Chawal. Whenever I want to make something quick, filling and great tasting Indian meal, I make Dal Chawal(Dal-Rice). Everyone in my home loves the piping hot Dal on steamed rice with some cucumbers and onions with a dash of lemon!!
It is also one of the commonly ordered food by many, after ‘Dal Makhani’ when having food outside whether in a rustic dhaba or a fine-dine. Many variations of Dal Tadka exists as this being the most popular and loved Dal, every household has a way of making it. Some make it with only Toor Dal and some mix Channa(Split Bengal Gram) or Moong Dal(Moong Beans). Every region has its own favorite but the most loved all around India is Arhar Dal or Toor Dal also known as Spilt Pegoin Pea. In different regions of India, it is known with different names and has a different way of cooking with varied no. of spices and also meats and vegetables.
For those of you who don’t know about Dal Tadka, is lentils(dal) tempered with Indian spices(tadka) in clarified butter(ghee). Making this Dal is so much simpler, just pressure cook Dal with turmeric and salt. Make onion-tomato masala, once the dal is pressure cooked add masala, cook for few more minutes and before serving, make tadka(tempering) and add to dal!! The appetizing aroma of tempering made with cumin, curry leaves, garlic, onion and red chilli powder along with a pinch of asafoetida makes the dal finger-licking delicious!!
Lentils or Dals are best cooked easliy in pressure cookers, which shorten the cooking time. But if you don’t have Indian style pressure cooker, you can cook in slow cookers or Instapot. Please check the setting for the same. Lentils can also be cooked on stovetops in open pan, but these take a lot of time. In a pot of boiling water, add lentils with asafoetida salt, and turmeric powder and cook till dal is soft. Microwaves also can be used for cooking dal. Microwave pre-soaked dal for 15-20 minutes with a double the amount of water as dal.
This is how I make Dal Tadka(restaurant style)..
Take 1 cup Arhar/Toor Dal, wash it and soak in enough water for 10-15 minutes. soaking lentils shorten the cooking time.
In a pressure cooker, add the dal and water (around double the amount of dal). Switch on the flame and let it cook till it boils. Discard the foam/ bubbles that gather at the top, add turmeric, salt and a pinch of asafoetida(hing). Close the lid of the cooker and let the dal cook on medium flame till 2 whistles. If you are not soaking your dal prior to cooking it may take a little longer to cook.
After 2 whistles that can take 10-12 minutes, switch off the gas/burner and take off the dal from stove-top. Wait till the pressure drops. Open the cooker, the lentils will be soft and mushy. Keep it aside and prepare the onion-tomato masala.
For making onion -tomato masala, chop finely onions, tomato, ginger and garlic. Chop half of the onion finely and chop the other half in thin slices for final tempering. Usually tempering is of made in ghee with cumin and red chilli powder but I also add some onions in my final tempering and saute it little more than usual translucent. This gives characteristic restaurant style taste to my Dal Tadka. Ghee adds on the flavor of Dal Tadka, you can make tempering using oil if you want to avoid ghee. But trust me a spoonful of ghee won’t do any harm!! Studies have shown that having ghee(Indian Clarified Butter )in moderation is better than having refined oils.
In a pan take 1 tbsp of Ghee/oil, add mustard/cumin(rai/jeera) seeds when seeds crackle, add chopped garlic, ginger. Saute till the garlic starts turning light brown. Add finely chopped onions and saute till translucent. If you want you can also add chopped green chillies with onions. Add chopped tomatoes and cook till it is soft and mushy. Add garam masala and cook for another 2 minutes. Add masala in dal, mix and cook dal for another 2-3 minutes so that the masala blends well in dal. Adjust the consistency of water. Dal Tadka should not be too thick or too runny, just right to have with steamed rice or jeera rice. I also add curry leaves which enhances the flavor of dal, skip it if you don’t have curry leaves.
Prepare tempering just before serving dal. For preparing tempering(tadka), take the tempering pan or a small pan, add a tbsp of ghee to the pan, add a pinch of hing powder, a tsp of cumin seeds, when seeds crackle add onions, saute till dark brown, add tsp of red chilli( add as per your taste) and immediately add to dal.
Serve hot with steamed rice or jeera rice. Dal Tadka with hot chapatis and some dry subzi( Indian style dry veggies) like Aloo-Gobhi -Matar(Indian style Cauliflower with Potatoes and Peas in Indian spices and herbs), Baigan ka Bharta(Roasted Eggplant in Indian spices), Bhindi(Okra in Indian spices) etc makes an ideal Indian meal.
- Split Pigeon Lentils/Arhar/Toor Dal- 1 Cup
- Onion- 1 medium
- Tomato-1-2 medium
- Garlic-2-3 cloves
- Cumin Seeds-1 Tsp
- Turmeric Powder-1/2 Tsp
- Asafoetida/Hing-1/4 Tsp
- Red Chilli Powder-1/2 Tsp
- Salt as per taste
- Ghee/Oil-2 Tbsp
- Mustard Seeds-1/2 Tsp(optional)
- Green Chillies(optional as per taste)
- Curry Leaves-3-4(optional)
- Take 1 cup Arhar/Toor Dal, wash it and soak in enough water for 10-15 minutes, add water in pressure cooker, add dal, turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt. Cook dal till 2-3 whistles.
- In a pan take 1 tbsp of Ghee/oil, add mustard/cumin(rai/jeera) seeds when seeds crackle, add chopped garlic, ginger.
- Saute till the garlic starts turning light brown. Add finely chopped onions and saute till translucent. If you want you can also add chopped green chillies with onions.
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook till it is soft and mushy. Add garam masala and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add masala in dal, mix and cook dal for another 2-3 minutes so that the masala blends well in dal. Adjust the consistency of water.
- Prepare tempering just before serving dal. For preparing tempering(tadka), take a tempering pan or a small pan, add a tbsp of ghee to the pan, add a pinch of hing powder, a tsp of cumin seeds, when seeds crackle add onions, saute till dark brown, add tsp of red chilli( add as per your taste) and immediately add to dal.
- Serve hot dal tadka with steamed/jeera rice or hot chapatis!!
Enjoy Dal Tadka made my way and I am sure you will love it!! Give your feedback in comments.
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