Meatless Monday : Dal Tadka

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The Tuvar or Arhar or Dried Pigeon Peas are family favorite. I make these dry beans in so many ways. The dal tadka is a bit dressed up version when I cook just dal and rice, without the normal Indian affair of few more things.  

I am wondering that why I didn’t post it earlier. Better late than never. It is often enjoyed with plain basmati rice along with some salad and Indian pickles in my house. This is one dish where I don’t have to beg or threaten anybody to finish their food . Their plates are happily emptied and I get to see contented faces. It can’t get better than that!

I had mine with rice, some chopped salad with lemon dressing and instant green chili pickle. Amazing! I have been eating it since childhood but it makes me a happy girl everytime. Such is the charm. You will often find it mentioned in the menus of Indian restaurants.

Now getting down to the recipe! Dedicating it to Sir Johnny of KitschnFlavors. Johnny, one more for you.

Serves : 4-6

Ingredients :

Dry Pigeon Peas/Tuvar/Arhar : 1 cup. I normally do 1/4 cup per person or a handful per person.

Water : 2&1/2 cups if using pressure cooker or 4 cups if using a pan. May need more water in pan as per the dal’s quality. Keep an eye on that. It’s better to wash and soak the dal for 20 minutes in lukewarm water for quicker cooking.

Turmeric : 1/2 tsp

For Tadka or Tempering :
Ghee/Oil : 2 tsp
Onion : 1/2 cup Chopped fine
Tomatoes : 1/2 cup chopped fine
Ginger : 1 tsp freshly grated or minced
Curry leaves : 5-7, optional
Cilantro leaves : 2 tbsp, chopped fine
Dry spices :
Black Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds : 1 tsp
Asafetida : a fat pinch, optional
Dry Red Chillies – 1-2. If you break them and add then it will add more heat.
Garam Masala : 1/2 tbsp, or to your taste
Red chili powder : 1/4 to 1/2 tsp, as per taste. You may use kashmiri chikni powder or fancy paprika for color.
Kasuri Methi : 1 tbsp, optional
Sugar or jaggery : 1 tsp, optional. I sometimes add it and sometimes skip it for variety.
Lemon juice : of 1/2 lemon, optional
Salt to taste

Method :

  1. Cook dal with water and turmeric powder in pressure cooker for 1 whistle and then simmer and cook further for 5 minutes. Switch the burner off and set aside. If you are using an open pan, then cook dal with mentioned amount of water and turmeric and cook till tender and the grain is slightly mushy. Do soak it beforehand for faster cooking.

  2. Meanwhile start working on Tadka/tempering. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and lower the flame. Once they start crackling, add asafetida, whole red chillies, curry leaves and onions to the pan and sauté for about 4-5 minutes on middle lower flame till the onions turn slightly golden.

  3. Add tomatoes and ginger. Add Kasuri methi and all the dry spices except sugar, cilantro leaves and lemon juice. Sauté on medium flame for about another 5-7 minutes till tomatoes are mushy. Add 1/4 cup water, sugar, salt and cilantro leaves. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes.

  4. Add boiled dal to the tempering or vice versa. Cook further for 5 minutes and done. Eat with rice or chapatis. I can drink it up plain. Always add lemon juice in individual portions. If you add lemon juice in the whole cooking pan, then you cannot reheat it since it will make the dal bitter.

I hope you will try it some day!

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  1. I made the chana dal this evening Sonal! It was wonderful. I didn’t change much from your Dal Tadka recipe. I did give it a good whisk to help break it up a little and added a few handfuls of fresh spinach. The flavor and spices were fantastic and I have to say I loved the cooking process. The smell of the spices were intoxicating. Probably not what you would serve with this…but, I made naan for the first time in my life! My teenage son has a girlfriend who’s mother is from India and he has had a couple of dinners with them and he LOVES naan. Turned out wonderfully. I made it without active yeast. Instead used yogurt and a pinch of baking soda. Anyway, you are my mentor! Thank you for your inspiration and wonderful recipes!

    1. I am so glad that it turned out good Seana :). The bread that you made has a name ;). Kulcha! I made it this weekend to go along with chickpea curry. Will bring it to fiesta on Friday. I keep changing my basic recipe by sometimes adding spinach or mustard leaves or kale and sometimes cook my dals with vegetables. Add so much variety.
      This is what I love about my blog journey that we all are each other’s students and each other’s teachers as well :).

      1. I didn’t know they were called Kulcha! t started out with the idea of using active yeast to make naan, then realized I needed 3 or 4 hours for rising and dinner was in an hour! The kulcha turned out beautifully! I really surprised myself. I even brushed them with ghee. My son ate at least 6 of them! I love blogging too, for the same reason. Can’t wait to see your post Friday!

  2. This is especially well timed as my local store has recently started to sell dried pigeon peas. As for the Kasuri Methi, I’ve yet to find fenugreek leaves over here. Only ever the seeds. I’ll have a look in the International store as I’m more and more curious about them. And thanks for the mention. 🙂

  3. Oh you are so right Sonal. Dal chawal it is and better if it is arhar ki dal and chawal! Your tadka looks super. I am almost slurping looking at the pics.

  4. Nice. Sonal, do you have a recipe on your blog for using chana dal? I came across a package of chana dal and I instantly thought of you as a good source for instructions / recipe. I don’t have a pressure cooker. 🙁

    1. Seana, I don’t have the recipe yet for chana dal. But let me tell you that it is a versatile daal. You can make chutneys, make stuffings, fritters and dal as in stew itself. If you follow my dal tadka recipe to make chana dal, it would come out equally tasty. I make dal tadka with chana dal sometimes. If you don’t have pressure cooker, don’t worry. Just wash it thoroughly and soak it in warm water for 20-30 minutes before you start cooking. Use the soaked water for cooking since it has lot of nutrients. And then go with boiling and making tadka/tempering.

      1. Perfect. Thank you so much! I will follow your dal tadka recipe, I wasn’t sure it would cook the same, but I certainly love the sound of the spices, it is what I had in mind. This will be a first for me, so…we’ll see!