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Variations of daal (or dal) and tarka (or tadka)—a mixture of aromatics, vegetables and spices spooned over the top of the daal for extra flavor—are served throughout the Indian subcontinent and parts of southeast Asia. This version is served at Nepali Mountain Kitchen, part of the Mango House community in Aurora, Colorado. Give the dish a generous stir before digging in to ensure the tarka gets thoroughly incorporated.

EatingWell Magazine, October 2021


Credit: Jenny Huang

Recipe Summary

30 mins
45 mins




Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare daal: Combine water, lentils, red onion, tomato, serrano, salt, chile powder and turmeric in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and the mixture is thickened, 25 to 30 minutes. Stir often during the last 10 minutes to prevent burning.

  • Meanwhile, prepare tarka: Heat ghee (or oil) in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, tomato, chiles, garlic, ginger and cumin seeds; cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Serve the daal topped with the tarka. Garnish with kasuri methi and cilantro, if desired.

To make ahead

Refrigerate daal (Step 1) for up to 3 days.


Kasuri methi (fenugreek) has a complex flavor that's a little nutty and almost maple-y. Look for the dried leaves in Indian markets and online.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup daal & 2 Tbsp. tarka
382 calories; fat 16g; cholesterol 40mg; sodium 467mg; carbohydrates 46g; dietary fiber 10g; protein 14g; sugars 6g; niacin equivalents 2mg; saturated fat 9g; vitamin a iu 3137IU; vitamin b6 1mg; potassium 886mg.