Tarka Daal

Apparently this week is National Curry Week in the UK so I thought I’d share my favourite Tarka Daal recipe.  I love the simplicity and comfort of a bowl of steaming hot boiled rice and tarka daal.

I’ve tried a few different recipes for daal over the years and ended up adapting and adding bits over time so here’s how I make daal.



  • 1 mug of yellow split peas
  • 4 mugs of cold water
  • 6 large cloves of garlic finely chopped, if they’re small add a couple more
  • 3 tomatoes chopped into small cubes
  • 1/2 onion finely sliced
  • 3cm piece of ginger, peeled and  coarsely grated
  • 1 green chill, pierced with a knife but left whole
  • 3 teaspoons of cumin seeds (1 for the daal, 2 for the tarka)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried chilli flakes (optional but I kick my daal with a bit of kick)
  • a handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

You start by cooking the daal itself.  Wash and drain the split peas thoroughly – I usually let them sit in cold water for about 5 minutes then rinse and repeat.  Place the peas in a large saucepan and add the 4 cups of water.

Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds whole, turmeric, coriander powder, salt and dry chilli flakes and stir.  Also add the garlic, tomatoes, ginger and whole green chilli (DO NOT add the onion).  Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t look very appetising at this stage it will taste great when finished!


Once boiling turn the heat down to a medium, partly cover with the lid and cook for around 45 minutes occasionally stirring to stop it sticking.

As the mixture cooks it will thicken, it usually takes around 45 minutes, basically you want the peas to be soft.  If you like your daal thicker you can cook more of the liquid off by leaving it on the hob without the lid.

Remove the whole chilli at this stage.

Once cooked, using a handheld blender, blitz the mixture for a few seconds, longer if you like your daal smooth.  I like the daal to have some texture so only blitz it for around 10 – 15 seconds.


Set your daal aside and make your tarka.

Heat a dry frying pan over the hob until hot and drop in your 2 remaining teaspoons of cumin seeds.  Be careful not to burn them, shake the pan to keep the seeds moving.  As the seeds toast you’ll get the most amazing smell.  After about 20-30 seconds pour the seeds into a mortar and crushed the seeds.

Add some vegetable oil to the hot frying pan and fry the finely sliced onions for a couple of minutes until soft, add the cumin seeds and stir – don’t worry if the onion browns a little – in total cook the onion for around 5 minutes.

To serve add the daal to a bowl with some boiled rice and sprinkle some of the tarka and fresh cut coriander.


4 thoughts on “Tarka Daal

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s