This recipe is absolute comfort food. A quick and easy dal recipe that is cooked in most homes in North India. Tadka dal is also very commonly served by roadside eateries called Dhabas, where fresh food is served in a rustic and simple setting.
There is a variety of lentils used in Indian cooking depending on the region and recipe. Since dal is a regular in my home, I cook different varieties of dals using my own variations to make it interesting and tasty. This recipe is however something I cook when I am in a hurry and want something that satisfies the soul.
Lentils are usually cooked in a pressure cooker, since it must quicker and the dal blends really well in a short time. But if you do not have a pressure cooker, soak the lentils in warm water for 1 hour atleast (after having washed it with several water rinses). Use a heavy bottom pan with a lid to cook the lentils.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 people
Toor daal – 1.5 cups
Tomato – 1 (finely chopped)
Turmeric powder – 2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp (if you want the daal to be spicier, you can use green chilli in the tadka/tempering)
Amchur powder (dried mango powder) – 1.5 tsp
Salt to taste
2 tbsp - Ghee or oil
Garlic – 4 cloves (finely chopped)
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Asafoetida (hing in hindi) – 2 pinches
Green chilli – 1 whole (optional)
Dried red chilli - 1 whole
Fresh Curry leaves – optional, but they add an amazing flavor
Garnish: Fresh Coriander leaves – chopped and lemon wedges
Wash the daal with several rinses of water. Soak the daal in 4 cups of warm water for an hour at least. Now add the daal along with the water used to soak the daal, in the pan. If using a pressure cooker, reduce the quantity of water to 3 cups. Add the turmeric, amchur, red chilli powder, salt and tomatoes to the pan. Cover and cook the daal (takes from 45 mins to an hour or sometimes more… depends on the quality of the lentils). The pressure cooker will take about 15-20 minutes. If the water begins to froth and bubble, then remove the lid or cover it partly and continue to cook the lentils till they become soft and creamy. If the water becomes less, then add some additional hot water.
Once the dal is cooked it should be creamy and soft. (press the lentil between your fingers, if it crushes easily and creamy, it should be cooked). Give it a good stir with a ladle such that the dal and tomatoes are well blended with the water. Keep aside.
Now prepare for the tempering/tadka.
Heat 2 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan. Start by adding cumin seeds, mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds pop, turn the heat to low and add the rest of the ingredients mentioned under tempering. Once the garlic turns a nice brown color, add the tempering to the dal. If you are using green chilies, add them to the pan along with the garlic.
Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with basmati rice and poppadum’s.