Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tarka Dhal

It's been a while since I've made an Indian curry and I decided not to hold back. I am making a lamb and spinach curry, with aloo gobi and to top it off my favourite tarka dall. This actual post is about making the dhal and the other two are coming in future posts.

Tarka dhal is a standard dish whenever I order a curry, whether a home delivery or in a restaurant, I also use how good the tarka dhal is on whether I will use or go back to them. If the dhal is flavourless, soupy with no tasty onion and garlic flavour then I not only complain but I don't go back. A great dhal should be earthy with a smoky flavour with crunchy onion, garlic and chillies.

Tarka is what is put on top of the dhal, which should be a combination of sliced onion, red chillies, garlic with onion and mustard seeds pan fried in hot oil and then topped on top of the dhal. If you want you can make the dhal the day before, so it has time to infuse all the ingredients into a great flavour and all you need to do is complete the tarka on the day, which only takes 10-15 minutes.

This recipe is loosely based on the great Best-ever Curry Cookbook, by Mridula Baljekar. It has over 150 curries from India and Asia. I’ve made a lot of recipes fom the book over the years and can highly recommend it. You can buy it from the link below or just google it and you could find it cheaper elsewhere.

This recipes serves 4-6, I actually pour the dhal on top of my rice.

  • 50g/20z/¼cup chana dhal or yellow split peas
  • 600ml/1pint/2½ water
  • 115g/4oz/½cup red lentils, washed
  • 5ml/1tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 5ml/1tsp garlic, crushed
  • 2,5ml/¼tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 fresh green chillies, chopped
  • 5ml/1tsp salt

  • 30ml/2tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2,5ml/¼ mixed mustard and onion seeds
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1tbsp chopped coriander

If you are using dry chana dhal or yellow split peas, soak them overnight.

Place the chana dhal (yellow split peas) into a large pan, add the water and bring to the boil, Once boiling, reduce the heat and add all the other ingredients and stir it all together and cook for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Mash the lentils, with the back of a spoon until you have thick soupy consistency. If the mixture looks to dry add some more water, but if it looks to thin cook longer to reduce the amount of water.

To make the tarka, heat the oil in the pan and fry the onions. After 5 minutes add the mustard and onion seeds and stir together. Then add the red chillies and sliced tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Pour the tarka on the dhal and garnish with the chopped coriander

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