Dal Tadka is a favorite of My Vegetarian Family and one of the first “Incredibly Indian” recipes I am so happy to share. Whenever I ask my daughter what she would like for dinner the answer is always dal tadka (well … occasionally she says refried bean tacos … therefore … recipe coming soon). I have worked to perfect these restaurant-style lentils tempered in spices just for her and now to share! I especially like Dal Tadka because the onion is the only vegetable to chop, the beans don’t need soaking time, I love using my Instant Pot, I always have these simple ingredients on hand, and dinner is ready in under one hour.
What is dal?
In India, dal is a word used to describe any split lentil, bean, or pea. When prepared this way, dal is typically paired with basmati rice, jeera rice, naan, or roti.
Why make dal?
It is a delicious vegetarian staple food
18g of protein, 8g fiber, 200 calories in one cup of lentils or dal (wow!)
It is inexpensive – a total of one cup of dal was used in this recipe – 2 cups of dal per pound and each pound costs $3-4 … so … $2 spent on beans to feed your whole family!
Dried dal and lentils can be bought in bulk and stored in jars for when you are ready to use them. I purchase our beans and dal at an Indian grocer but these can also be found at Whole Foods Market, and on Amazon … easy!
This something you can feel good about making and eating because it is loaded with vitamin rich spices, protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
Who said making Indian vegetarian food is difficult?!? Not me!
Restaurant style Dal Tadka combines 3 different vitamin-and-protein-packed lentils with onion and spices ready in under one hour!
2tspOilCanola or Avocado work best to sustain the high heat
1/2 - 1 tsp Red Chili Powdermore or less depending on level of spice you desire
3 whole driedBay Leaves
2tspGarlic Pasteor 2 cloves fresh garlic chopped
1/2tspGrated Ginger or Ginger Paste
2JalapenosSlit Lengthwiseremove stem but not seeds
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Measure out all 3 daals and place in a strainer. Rinse well with cool water.
Place daals, water, and 1/2 tsp salt in Instant Pot. Set to "beans" for 35 minutes. (see notes for standard pressure cooker)
While daal is cooking, heat oil in a pan on medium-high heat. When oil is hot add turmeric, asafoetida, salt, and onion. Cook onions about 5 minutes or until transulcent.
To the same pan add cumin, red chili powder, coriander, and garam masala. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
When timer goes off on the Instant Pot, release the steam and stir the cooked daal into the pan with spices and onions. Add more water at this time for a thinner consistency or blend with a hand blender for a smoother consistency. I leave mine just the way it is as some of the daal maintain their texture and some have melted. Once the consistency is to your liking, transfer to a serving dish.
In a separate small pan heat the ghee on medium-high heat until melted.
Add in mustard seeds and once they pop, add in cumin seeds, bay leaves, ginger, garlic, and jalapenos stir and cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat being careful not to let the garlic burn.
Remove from heat and pour on top of the cooked daal. Remove jalapeno and bay leaves prior to serving
Any variation or combination of daals can be used to make this dish. To change it up I often remove the mung dal and use half toor daal and half channa daal to yeild a daal that maintains its texture.
Be sure to remove the jalapenos and bay leaves as instructed as they will change the overall flavor of the dish if left in for a long period.
To increase the spice level increase the amount of red chili powder, I use up to 2 tsp.
If you do not have an Instant Pot use a standard pressure cooker on medium heat and cook for 3 whistles and soak beans prior to cooking for 20-30 minutes.