Toor Dal Tadka
Updated: Nov 25, 2021
This recipe really needs no introduction. If you have ordered dal tadka in a restaurant, you would most likely be served toor dal tadka.
Toor dal (arhar dal or yellow pigeon peas) is the lentil of choice for a restaurant style dal tadka, as it blends well while still holding shape, giving the lentil curry both; a mushy and grainy texture.
A part of the toor / arhar dal disintegrates into the cooking water, making a thick curry and a lot of it stays solid, for that texture that one still wants in a well-made dal tadka.
Toor dal or yellow pigeon peas are a good source of plant based protein, making them the perfect addition to your vegetarian or vegan diet. High in fibre, good source of carbohydrates, magnesium and iron rich lentil… a must in any diet really.
Despite its many nutritional benefits, toor dal or arhar dal (yellow pigeon peas) is heavy on the tummy. In case you have any dietary restrictions and still want to enjoy a bowl (or two!) of soulful homemade dal tadka, you could replicate this recipe with moong dal or masoor dal too.
The method of making toor dal tadka given in this recipe is how it is usually made. Boil the dal separately first and then add a tadka to it.
If you like, you could make the tadka first in the pressure cooker itself and add the soaked toor dal to it. Pressure cook everything together and your arhar / toor dal tadka is ready. You could always add a simple red chilli powder tadka to your toor dal while serving, for an extra kick.
I make it with both methods and can say it tastes great either way!
This recipe of toor dal tadka is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. To make it vegan, replace the ghee with your regular cooking oil.
If you’re looking to add more lentils and beans to your diet, try these North Indian style dal / bean curry recipes from my Indian food recipe blog WhiskMixStir.
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Time taken: 10-15 minutes (for soaked toor dal)
Ingredients to make Toor Dal Tadka
1 cup toor dal (arhar dal / yellow pigeon peas)
3 cups water
½ tsp haldi / turmeric powder
A pinch of hing / asafoetida
Salt to taste
For the tadka
2 tbsp ghee
1 tsp rai / mustard seeds
½ tsp jeera / cumin seeds
8-9 curry leaves
6-7 garlic cloves – thinly sliced or finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped ginger
1-2 dried Kashmiri red chillis
3-4 green chillies – cut in ½ inch pieces (reduce the number of chillies in case fine chopping)
1 onion, medium size, finely chopped
1 tomato, medium size, finely chopped
Method of making Toor Dal Tadka
Prepare the toor dal
Wash the toor / arhar dal well, soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
Soaking any bean or lentil is to soften the lentil / bean and reduce cooking time. You could simply wash and immediately cook the yellow pigeon peas; just pressure cook for a couple of whistles more.
Once ready to cook, drain and pressure cook the soaked toor dal with 3 cups of water, turmeric powder and salt for 1 whistle on medium high heat and 2 whistles on medium low heat. As always, allow the steam to settle naturally.
If you do not have the time to soak your toor dal, add half a cup more of water and pressure cook it for 4 whistles on low heat.
Once the pressure cooker steam settles naturally, open it and check for consistency of toor dal. Add more water, if required – depending on how thick or thin you like your dal tadka. Usually, restaurant style tadka dal is thick. Ideally, add hot water to the cooked dal. If you happen to add ambient temperature water, bring the toor dal to a gentle boil again.
When adjusting the thickness of any dal or bean curry, remember that it will naturally thicken slightly within a few minutes. Also, we're going to simmer the dal for a few more minutes once the tadka is added.
In a tadka pan, heat ghee and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add the curry leaves. Next add chopped ginger, sliced garlic, chopped green chillies and Kashmiri red chilli.
Once the garlic is golden, the ginger lightly cooked, the green chillies change colour and the Kashmiri red chilli is crisp, add the finely chopped onions and tomatoes. Cook the tadka till the onions turn a light brown, the tomatoes are lightly mushy.
Putting together the restaurant-style toor dal tadka
Once the tadka is ready, carefully add it to the cooked toor dal. Simmer the toor dal with the tadka for a couple of minutes allowing the flavours to blend.
If you like, you could keep a little of the prepared tadka aside for garnishing the toor dal tadka, when serving. Or you could add a simple red chilli powder and ghee tadka when serving. Always garnish the toor dal tadka with fresh coriander before serving.
Serve restaurant style toor / arhar dal tadka with chapatis, thalipeeth, steamed rice or a veggie pulao and a sabzi of choice on the side. A few of my preferred sabzi (Indian Sides) to serve with toor dal tadka are: paneer bhurji, beans aloo, palak paneer and ofcourse the quintessential gobi aloo.
This baingan ka raita will make a yumm combination served with toor dal tadka and rice.
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