Indian culinary expert Madhur Jaffrey experienced a version of this tarka—a combination of fried spices and aromatics stirred into a soupy dal—while visiting the South Indian city of Hyderabad. It is soured with tamarind and seasoned with curry leaves and mustard seeds. This recipe first appeared in our August/September 2014 special India issue with Madhur Jaffrey's article The Heart of South India.
Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Soups and Stews
- 1 cup toor dal (yellow pigeon peas), rinsed, soaked 30 minutes, and drained
- 1⁄4 tsp. ground turmeric
- 3 tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 1 tsp. tamarind paste
- 1⁄4 tsp. red chile powder, such as cayenne
- 12 fresh or frozen curry leaves
- 7 cloves garlic (1 mashed into a paste, 6 peeled)
- 2 plum tomatoes, peeled and minced
- 2 small green Thai chiles, or 1 serrano, thinly sliced
- 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and grated
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 3 tbsp. canola oil
- 1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1⁄4 tsp. brown mustard seeds
- 3 chiles de árbol
Bring dal and 8 cups water to a boil in a 6-qt. saucepan. Reduce heat to medium; stir in turmeric and cook until dal is mushy, about 45 minutes.
Stir in cilantro, tamarind paste, chile powder, curry leaves, garlic paste, tomatoes, sliced chiles, ginger, and salt; boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.
Heat oil in an 8" skillet over medium-high. Cook cumin and mustard seeds until they pop, 1–2 minutes. Add peeled garlic and the chiles de árbol; cook until garlic is golden, 6–8 minutes, and stir into stew.