Tadka Daal - Tempered Lentil Curry

Tadka Daal
Aparna Balasubramaniam/ Getty Images
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 servings

This tasty yet easy-to-cook Daal dish is hugely popular in India. There are as many versions of it as there are cooks in India! 

Tadka Daal is mild and easy to cook so will be loved by family members of all ages. It can be made ahead - up to the stage just before tempering - and frozen. When you are ready to eat just thaw, heat through, temper and serve! One of our personal favorite meals is Tadka Daal served with plain boiled rice. If you prefer, you can add pretty much any side dish you like to enhance this already perfect combination.


  • 1 cup Toor or Tuvar Daal (look below for picture and description)
  • 1 large tomato cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable/ sunflower/ canola cooking oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons melted ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon Paanch Phoran (see recipe below)
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 2 slit green chilies
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Thoroughly wash the Toor/ Tuvar Daal and put into a pressure cooker. Add 2 cups of water to it. Now add the chopped tomato, ginger, garlic pastes, salt to taste, 1 tbsp of cooking oil and turmeric powder to it. Stir well.

  2. Cover the pressure cooker and set on the stove at a high flame. After the first 'whistle'/ pressure release, reduce the flame to simmer and cook for 2 more 'whistles'/ pressure releases. Turn off the fire and release the pressure from the cooker. Now open the pressure cooker and stir the boiled lentils well to blend into a smooth soup-like consistency. If it is too thick, add some warm water and stir till the consistency is right. Heat the Daal through again. It should be piping hot before you carry out the next step in the recipe.

If you do not have a pressure cooker: Put the daal in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot/ pan, add 3 cups of water. Now add the chopped tomato, ginger, garlic pastes, salt to taste, 1 tablespoon of cooking oil and turmeric powder to it. Stir well. Set up on medium heat and cook until the liquid comes to a boil. Now reduce heat and keep cooking until the daal is soft and easily mashed. You will need to monitor the cooking often to stir and add more water is needed.

Heat the ghee on a medium flame, in a small pan till hot. Now add the Paanch Phoran and fry till spluttering stops. Add the curry leaves and green chilies and cook till spluttering stops. Turn off the fire and add the asafetida powder. Stir to mix well and add this tempering mix to the boiled lentil mixture. It will sizzle and might splutter a bit, so be careful when you do this. Stir well.

Serve with plain boiled rice.

You can do a whole lot more with lentils. Check out our Daal Recipes.