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Dal Tarka

4 Servings

1¼ hours 20 minutes active

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Dal tarka, or simmered lentils finished with spice-infused butter, is a ubiquitous Indian dish, though some versions are more elaborate than others. Different varieties of lentils can be used to make dal, but we opted for split yellow lentils (toor dal) to recreate the dal tarka we had in Mumbai. (Note: Yellow lentils and yellow split peas are not the same.) If you’re able to find ghee, a type of clarified butter, we highly recommend using it to make the tarka because its full, round, slightly nutty flavor lends depth to the dish. If ghee is not available, salted butter works well.




Don’t forget to stir the lentils more frequently as they begin to thicken, and make sure to scrape along the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking or scorching. Also, don’t make the tarka, or infused butter, in advance; the flavor compounds are volatile and dissipate as the mixture cools. It’s best to make the tarka only after the lentils have finished cooking.

1¼ hours

20 minutes active


  • 1

    cup split yellow lentils, rinsed and drained

  • 2

    teaspoons ground turmeric, divided


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Leandro T.
October 16, 2022
Very good, needs a few tweaks
Great recipe. I'd turn down the amount of cumin used as it was overpowering IMO. Also, I used red lentils since my grocery didn't have yellow on hand, as a result the cooking time needed to be reduced to about 40mins. The fresh tomatoes add a layer of depth that can only be described as happiness. Recipes like this will make going (temporarily) vegetarian easy.
Sebastian H.
June 22, 2022
delicious and easy!
Tastes amazing and easy to make, definitely a keeper
John b.

This turned out great. Thought the lentles would be boring but when I added salt at the end they came to life. I'm always amazed at how nice lentils taste when done right. I didn't have yellow lentils readily available so used green french and it turned out wonderfully. Great recipe and one that is a real hit for those looking for a very flavorful dish without a lot of heat.

Jennifer B.

I've had a lot of dal and this was perfect. wonderful consistency, and the tarka was great, the perfect accompaniment.