Tadka Dal / Dal Tadka (Dhaba Style /Restaurant Style)

Tadka Dal / Dal Tadka (Dhaba Style /Restaurant Style)

Dal Tadka is the most popular dal which is served in Indian restaurants.

Dal (lentils and pulses) is considered to be one of staple food of Indian cuisine and every region has a popular dish prepared with dal.  Dal is rich in protein and hence for vegetarians often dal is one of the important protein source.

In my mind, Tadka Dal is synonymous to Highway Dal. Tadka Dal is very popular in Dhaba’s (highway/motorway restaurants) and usually sold in all Dhaba’s in the North of India. The magic in this dal is that it requires very simple ingredients and also the ‘double’ tadka given to the dal custom made according to your taste.

If you have never made any Indian dish before, I would suggest make this your first as you won’t need too many ingredients, it taste just utterly delicious and you are in full control of the heat/spice level.

Like I mentioned before this is special dal which requires double ‘tadka’. For the first ‘tadka’ onion, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger are sautéed along with spices. Then the boiled dal gets cooked with the spices.  When the dal is cooked, then second tempering is added to dal. This second ‘tadka’ makes the dal aromatically classic and gives it a creamy richness.  

This recipe can be made with any 2 types of dals. You can make it with any yellow dal (split lentils). I make the dal tadka sometimes with Arhar dal (split pigeon pea lentils) and Moong and sometimes with Arhar dal and Masoor dal (split pink lentils).

I would highly recommend using ghee (clarified butter) for this recipe as it adds an exceptional flavour to the whole dish.  The luscious dal with double tadka can be paired beautifully with Jeera Rice and/or tandoori roti.




Wash and soak the dal for couple of hours and then pressure cook it with salt and turmeric. (around 3 whistles)

(If cooking in deep pot, add the salt and turmeric and cook covered in medium to low heat till the lentils are cooked. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.)


Heat ghee in a pan and add cumin seeds and asafoetida.
Add onion, ginger, chillies and garlic and sauté it for couple of minutes till onions turns golden brown.


Add tomatoes and sauté for 3-4 minutes till the tomatoes are soft on medium heat.


Once the tomatoes have softened add coriander powder, red chilli powder and dal tadka masala. Add ¼ C water and cook it for couple of minutes till the water starts boiling.
Add the boiled dal and chopped coriander to the onion tomato base and Mix well.Adjust the consistency of the dal at this stage.
Empty the dal in a serving bowl and sprinkle the 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (from second tempering on the dal)


Second Tadka for dal

In a pan heat 2 tablespoon ghee and add cumin seeds.
Next, add bay leaf and whole red chilli ( optional) and sauté for a minute.
Now pour the hot tadka over hot dal.
Serve hot with Jeera rice, paratha, chapatti or tandoori roti.

Tips & Variations

  1. When you add cumin in hot ghee the seeds should begin to crackle. It happens in seconds so always keep an eye on it otherwise the cumin will get burnt and give a burnt flavour to the dal.
  2. The recipe can be changed by altering the quantity of each dal. The taste will still be nice.
  3. You can use any lentils you have at home. Experiment with your own combinations and soon you will have your favourite combination to use. One of the other options is using 1 cup split pigeon pea (toor / arhar dal) and 1/4 cup split chickpeas (chana dal)
  4. The consistency of the dal is very important for any dal recipes. I have maintained a medium thickness of consistency.
  5. You can elevate the taste of the dal by adding some kasuri methi. I usually don’t add it as the dal in itself taste so nice that sometimes kasuri methi can overpower the taste of dal.
  6. At times, I flavour the dal with a smoky aroma of blazing charcoal. This is an optional step, but do try it sometime. For giving dal a smokey taste. heat a small piece of charcoal and then place it in a small bowl (don’t use plastic or it will burn) or a halved hollow onion. Pour few drops of oil/ghee on the hot charcoal. You will see fumes emanating as soon as you pour oil or ghee on the hot charcoal. Place this bowl on the dal. Cover the pan with a lid and let the dal get infused with the charcoal smoke. Keep for 1 to 2 minutes. The longer you keep the smokier the dal will become. Remove the bowl carefully with the help of tongs and cover the dal. Keep aside. You can easily skip this method if you don’t have charcoal
  7. Ghee, or clarified butter in my opinion, gives the finished dal a richer flavour, but you can use oil too.
  8. Always use fresh coriander leaves to finish off the dal, it not only adds a lovely fragrance but adds taste too.
  9. Dal can be cooked a day in advance and stored in fridge and then do the ‘tadka’ on the day of serving.
  10. Leftover dal can be frozen for a month.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *