Indian Lentils with Spiced Oil (Tarka Dal)

4 Servings

30 minutes

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This dish combines two classic Indian recipes—dal, or lentil stew, and tarka, a mixture of spices and/or aromatics that have been bloomed in hot oil. We use red lentils that cook quickly and readily break down to a coarse but velvety puree, then finish them with a heady blend of mustard, cumin, alliums and fresh chilies sizzled in coconut oil. You can lightly crush the mustard and cumin seeds for the tarka all at once using a mortar and pestle or the bottom of a skillet. Serve the lentils with basmati rice or warmed naan, and if you like, with cilantro sprigs, lemon wedges or plain yogurt on the side.




Don't overcook the mustard and cumin seeds in the coconut oil. The goal is to release their essential oils, not to toast them until browned. As soon as the seeds begin to sizzle, add the remaining ingredients.

30 minutes


  • 6

    tablespoons refined coconut oil, divided

  • 8

    medium garlic cloves, chopped, divided


Maria F.
January 17, 2023
excellent lentils
Such a comforting and fast dish to make.
Maria F.
January 16, 2023
spicy lentils
This recipe was very easy and the flavors unbelievable, I served it as a compliment with a seared black pepper crusted filet mignon and gave the filet an incredible flavor. Such a substantial meal!!
Jon S.

***As it is w/ a lot of Milk Street recipes, a bit too salty and it's easily made in a mid-sized pot. Otherwise, absolutely delicious!