Dal tadka

Dal tadka is a very popular dal preparation offered in Punjabi dhabas and restaurants in India. It is very easy to prepare this in the restaurant style. Dal tadka is a Punjabi dish in which the boiled dal is cooked with onion and tomato mixture and then tempered in the end with ghee and spices. Tadka means tempering/frying in the oil with spices. I have used a combination of arhar dal (toor dal/split pigeon peas) and chana dal (Bengal gram). You can use any dal (lentils) as per your liking and taste.

People often confuse dal fry with dal tadka. In dal fry, boiled dal is cooked with onion and tomato mixture and tempered once. In dal tadka the tempering happens twice. Otherwise, both dal preparations are the same to me with only difference being in the name - one is in English (fry) and the other is in Hindi (tadka).

Dal tadka is a comfort food with full of protein source, which can enjoyed with just plain rice or roti.

Preparation time: 10 mins (excluding soaking time)

Cooking time: 30 mins

Cuisine: Punjabi

Spiciness: Mild

Serves: 2 to 3


    Boiling dal

  • Arhar/toor dal – 1/3cup
  • Chana dal – 1/3 cup
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Water – 2 cups
  • First tadka/tempering

  • Ghee/oil – 3 tbsp
  • Onion – 1 medium or 70 gms
  • Tomato – 1 or 110 gms
  • Ginger – 1 1/2 tsp
  • Garlic – 1 tsp
  • Green chilli (chopped) – 1
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Water – 1 cup
  • Coriander leaves (chopped) – 2 tbsp
  • Second tadka/tempering

  • Ghee/clarified butter – 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Dry chillies – 4
  • Hing (asafoetida) – a big pinch
  • Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp


  • Wash both the dals and soak for about 30 mins.
  • Chop onion, tomatoes, coriander leaves, ginger and garlic. Slit or half the green chillies. Keep them ready.
  • Boiling dal

  • Take a pressure cooker and add both the dals, turmeric powder, 2 cups of water (or as required) and a tsp of oil.
  • Mix well and pressure cook for up to 4 to 5 whistles on a medium flame.
  • After a few minutes, when the pressure is fully released, open the lid and add salt to taste.
  • With the help of a ghotni (an Indian wooden masher used for mashing dal) or with the help of the back of a ladle, mash the dal well. Keep it aside.
  • First Tadka (tempering)

  • Heat oil in a pan or kadai or any vessel for tadka. When the oil gets warm, add onions, chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for a few minutes or until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and green chillies. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and mashed well.
  • Add 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp of chilli powder and saute for about 1 or 2 mins on a medium to low flame.
  • Transfer the dal to the onion mixture along with a cup of water. Mix well. Cook for about 5 mins on a medium flame.
  • Add coriander leaves and cook for about 5 mins on a low flame.
  • Second tempering

  • Heat a small tempering kadai or any small pan. Add ghee and when hot, add cumin seeds and dry chillies. Let it sizzle.
  • Add hing and chilli powder. Switch off.
  • Add it immediately this to the dal and it will sizzle. This is the dal tadka - restaurant style, when you pour the second tempering.
  • In restaurants or dhaba, they serve like this with the tempering on top.
  • You can garnish with a few coriander leaves again.
  • You can serve the dal tadka with plain rice or roti. The dal tadka goes well with plain rice along with a drizzle of ghee.


  • Those who do not have pressure cooker can cook the dal in an open vessel. First cook until the dal is cooked and then add the tempering.
  • If the dal is thick, you can add water as per the consistency required.
  • The amount of water added in the cooker should not exceed the limit of pressure cooker. Otherwise the water will come out.
  • When it starts to boil a tsp of oil is added so that the froth of the boiling dal should not come outside the pressure cooker.
  • Never add salt in the dal during cooking. Otherwise it will take more time to cook. Always add salt in the last, after cooking the dal.
  • After adding the second tempering to the dal, you can cook for another 5 mins with the lid closed.
  • When the dal gets cold. it becomes thick. Just add some water as per the consistency required and heat.

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