Tadka Dal

  • Serves

    makes About 5 1/2 Cups

In this recipe, as with many Indian dishes, moderately high heat is utilized to hasten caramelization and deepen flavors. When cooking the onions, if the pan gets too hot and the onions stick, just add a little bit of water, scrape with a wooden spoon, and deglaze the pan rather than lower the heat.


  • 1 (2") piece fresh ginger, peeled, sliced into coins
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 12 cup ghee
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 12 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 12 cups masoor dal (split, hulled pink lentils), rinsed
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 Thai green chilies, stemmed and quartered lengthwise


Step 1

Purée the ginger and garlic in a blender with 1⁄4 cup water. Set the paste aside.

Step 2

Heat 1⁄4 cup of the ghee in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Add the reserved paste along with the cayenne, coriander, cumin, and turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated and the paste is light brown, about 5 minutes. Add the dal along with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the dal has broken down into a moderately thick purée, about 20 minutes. Season with salt, remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl.

Step 3

Combine the remaining ghee, black mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chiles in a small skillet. Place over medium-high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and sizzling, about 2 minutes. Pour the spice-infused ghee over the dal, stir, and serve.

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