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Tarka dhal


Serves: 6 as a side, 4 as a main
timePrep time: 20 mins
timeTotal time:
Tarka dhal
Recipe photograph by Ant Duncan
These are traditional north Indian roadside café-style tempered lentils. In this version, chef Aktar Islam has used red lentils and mung, but you can try a different combination of pulses if you choose.

Serves: 6 as a side, 4 as a main
timePrep time: 20 mins
timeTotal time:

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Nutritional information (per serving)
Calories
310Kcal
Fat
12gr
Saturates
5gr
Carbs
33gr
Sugars
4gr
Fibre
4gr
Protein
15gr
Salt
1gr

Aktar Islam

Aktar Islam

Aktar Islam is the chef-owner of Michelin-starred Opheem restaurant in Birmingham, and has launched Aktar at Home, a successful finish-at-home dining experience.
See more of Aktar Islam’s recipes
Aktar Islam

Aktar Islam

Aktar Islam is the chef-owner of Michelin-starred Opheem restaurant in Birmingham, and has launched Aktar at Home, a successful finish-at-home dining experience.
See more of Aktar Islam’s recipes

Ingredients

For the dhal
  • 250g red lentils
  • 100g yellow mung dhal
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp flavourless oil
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2.5cm root ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 20 curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, left whole
  • 1 ripe plum tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • lemon or lime juice, to taste
  • coriander, to serve
For tempering
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 echalion shallot, finely sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • a pinch of asafoetida (optional)
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (or hot paprika)

Step by step

To store
The dhal keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, or can be frozen.
  1. Rinse the lentils and mung dhal until the water runs clear then soak in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the ghee and oil in a large pan over a medium heat and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Sauté for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  3. Add the onion and green chilli and sauté until the onion is translucent; about 8 minutes. Add the tomato, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Sauté for 2-3 minutes to cook out the spices.
  4. Drain the pulses then add to the pan with 700ml boiling water – they should be just covered with water. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, checking the pan regularly to make sure it’s not drying out and stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the lentils have cooked and reached your desired thickness (you can add water if you like your dhal runny or continue to bubble if you prefer it thicker), set aside. Adjust the seasoning with salt and lemon or lime juice.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the temper (spiced oil). Heat the ghee and half the oil in a pan and cook the shallot until golden and caramelised. Add the remaining oil to the pan and add the garlic, cooking until lightly browned, then add the asafoetida, if using, and Kashmiri chilli powder and mix well. Drizzle over your prepared lentils to finish and garnish with coriander leaves.

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