Caribbean Food, For Health, Vegetarian
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A Bowl of Sunshine: Tarka Dal

IMG_7013I can still remember the sizzling sound the crushed garlic would make as it hit the tin roof of the small dutch pot my mother would use to temper. The almost charred bitter taste of the garlic is actually really pleasant here, this is the only dish where you can get away with it I think. Dal and rice was a family stable in my household growing up and so seeing this bowl of sunshine at least once a week always brightened up my day.

Apparently there are at least 60 different kinds of dal, but I have traditionally grown up with the ‘yellow split pea’ as a base. In this recipe I have actually mixed it with the red lentil which cooks a lot quicker and doesn’t need soaking over night like the yellow split pea. I also didn’t completely mash up the yellow peas, you can still achieve the creamy texture this way. The ‘Tarka’ part refers to the a mix of spices fried in oil or ghee until sizzling and aromatic, and then folded through the creamy pulse just before serving.

Tarka Dal

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

To Boil under pressure

½ cup Yellow split peas

½ cup Red lentils

1 or 2 medium sized green chilies, chopped

1 medium sized onion, chopped finely

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp garam masala powder (optional)

A good pinch of Asafoetida

2 cups water

1 tsp Fenugreek powder

Salt to taste

To Temper

2 tbsp oil or Ghee

1 tsp cumin

5-6 garlic cloves

1/4 of an onion sliced thinly

A good pinch of Red Chilli Powder

A generous pinch of Asafoetida

  1. First soak the yellow split peas overnight in some water. Rinse the Red lentils.
  2. Add the ingredients in the ‘to boil under pressure’ list along with the dals in a pressure cooker. Add salt and two cups water.
  3. Mix well and pressure cook the dals for 4-5 whistles or till done.
  4. Once cooked take a potato masher or a wooden spoon and mashed the dal until you get the consistency you want. It should be creamy and a little thick, you can add some more water at this stage if you wish. Let it simmer for 3 minutes.
  5. once the desired consistency is reached, you can add garam masala powder (optional) and the chopped coriander leaves.
  6. Check the salt before adding the tempering. Cover the dal with a lid.  Now we can go on to prepare the tempering.
To Temper:
  1. Heat oil in a pan under a medium heat. Add cumin seeds and fry gently. try not to burn them.
  2. Now  add Asafoetida and chopped garlic. let the garlic brown.
  3. Once the garlic gets browned pour the entire tempering along with the oil into the dal.
  4. You can mix the dal or serve the dal  with the tempering on top it.
  5. Garnish the dal with coriander leaves and serve with the Mushroom Biryani

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