How To Make Tarka Daal
Serves 4 eaten with steaming hot chapattis
- 120g red split lentils
- 60g moong daal, the yellow ones
- 1 pint of water
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 green chillies, chopped
- ¼ tsp sugar
- Juice of a lemon
Soak the daal for 15 minutes, rinse, drain and boil. Add the garlic, turmeric, chillies and sugar, cooking for 25-30 minutes until the lentils have lost their shape and looking mushy. Add water if it’s drying out, this dish needs to be loose and a little runny. Season well and squish in the juice of a lemon. Just before serving spoon the tarka over the daal.
How To Make Tarka
- 2tbs vegetable oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2cm of ginger
- 3 dried red chillies
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp black onion seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tomato diced
Heat a small frying pan on a medium heat and add the oil. When hot, pop in the onion and garlic allowing them to brown and crispen at the edges. Add the ginger, chilli and all the seeds, turn up the heat until the seeds jig and hop in the pan. Add the tomato frying for a further 3/4 minutes until the ginger has softened and the tadka has dried a little. Season, take off the heat, cover immediately to retain the spice hit and leave to cool.
The Story of Tarka Dal
“So we’re both out lots this week, what shall we stock up on?”
The Maharani was in planning mode and it was clear that her morse code, once deciphered translated as this, “I’m busy this week, what are you going to cook for us? Otherwise I’ll strip M&S clean of its ready meals.” The threat wasn’t a lame one, they rarely are, but I was hardly in the mood to spend a few hours over a slow cooked pot of lamb. We needed something that could be pimped up throughout the week at the whim of our taste buds, something quick, cheap and honest…a phrase probably more at home on a Benidorm straw hat.
So a forage through the kitchen shelves led us to a couple of packets of lentils, yellow moong daal and red split lentils. Decision made, mixed Indian daal curry, parked with a tarka of toasted whole spices and a refreshing squeeze of lemon would be the dish du jour. Enjoyed regularly by over a billion people, this simple daal curry with a lentil broth consistency would also form the base of a chicken dhansak later in the week. However, for now we’d fight hunger with the artillery of spice and pulses.
Scooping the tarka daal curry with pockets of chapattis flecked with mustard seeds, the Maharani released a sigh, “Almost perfect, just needs a little more salt.”