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Easy Dal Tadka

  • Author: Laurel Perry
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Dal Tadka is a creamy Indian lentil dish made with lentils, tomatoes, and spices. This easier recipe uses everyday ingredients!


Units Scale

For the dal (aka the lentils):

  • 1/2 cup split red lentils
  • 1/2 cup split pigeon peas - or more red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Pinch asafoetida, optional
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2-4 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons butter, vegan or regular

For the tempering oil (aka the flavorful infused oil to garnish the dal):

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 3-5 Dried red chilis, optional
  • Pinch asafoetida - strictly optional, but if you have some, add it to the tempering oil too!
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves - optional, but delicious.
  • 1/4-1 teaspoon Indian chili powder, or cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika


Add the lentils and pigeon peas, if using, to a large bowl and cover generously with hot water. Soak for 30 minutes, drain, and discard soaking water.

While the lentils soak, add the coconut oil to a dutch oven or pot, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 10-12 minutes. Add the jalapeno, garlic, and ginger and cook until softened, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they soften and become juicy. Add in the turmeric, garam masala, asafetida (if using) and salt. Cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds. 

Add the lentils and water to the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until the lentils are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, or regular blender, blend the mixture until smooth. Some small flecks are fine. Stir in the butter.

While the dal is simmering, add the coconut oil to a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once warm, stir in the cumin seeds and chilis (if using) cook until they start to crackle and pop.  Add in the chili powder, paprkia and any other spices you are using. Cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds and remove from heat.

Serve bowls of the dal topped with the tempering oil.


Coconut oil: or another neutral oil like avocado oil or grapeseed oil work well. You could also use ghee.

Jalapeno: For a more mild recipe, seed the jalapeno. For more spice, use a spicier chili!

Garam masala: a traditional and readily available Indian spice blend.

Water: use 3 1/2 cups for a thicker dal and 4-4 1/2 cups for a thinner dal. The dal will thicken as it cools.

Dried red chilis: totally optional. They're more for looks than flavor. If you do purchase some, you can also use them in this General Tso's Tofu recipe.

Indian chili powder: also called Kashmiri chili powder, it is more spicy and less fragrant than Mexican chili powder. You can substitute with cayenne. Start small and add more to taste.


  • Serving Size: 1/4 recipe

Keywords: red lentil, turmeric, tomato, garam masala, cumin, paprika, easy, Indian, spicy, soup,