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Simple Daal Tadka (Yellow Lentil Stew)

Updated on January 2, 2013

(Dal, Dahl, Daal)

Whether you are a vegetarian or just looking for a new way to prepare lentils, daal tadka is an easy, nutritious, spicy treat. Daal (thick lentil stew) is a very common dish served throughout India, Pakistan and Nepal. Each region claims its own unique preparations. For this recipe, you will be making a northern Indian/Punjabi variation. Daal is made from various pulses such as dried lentils, peas or beans and can be prepared a variety of ways. This recipe calls for yellow lentils. It provides an excellent source of protein and fiber for a vegetarian diet, but you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it! It's usually served with a vegetable dish, and roti or rice. Sometimes I even add a little extra water and eat it as soup with crusty bread!

Serves 4. Cook time approx. 30 minutes.


1 cup yellow lentils, rinsed

4 cups water (3 if you want it thicker)

1 tablespoon oil or ghee

2-3 tomatoes, cut into pieces

1 onion, chopped

1-2 chilis

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1" ginger root, grated

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 teaspoon corriander powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper to taste

salt to taste

1 bunch fresh corriander leaves (cilantro) (optional)


In a pressure cooker, add drained lentils, ginger, water and tumeric. Cook to 4 whistles and allow steam to cool. If you don't have a pressure cooker, cook until lentils are soft and have absorbed most of the water to the point of a thick gravy consistency.

Separately, in a small wok (khadai) or fry pan heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. To test the readiness of the oil, drop one seed first. It should sizzle immediately. Let the seeds fry until brown. Next, add the onion, garlic and chili peppers and reduce to medium heat so you don't burn the garlic. When onions are nicely browned, add the tomatoes and spices, cover and cook until the tomatoes are soft, stirring occasionally Smash the tomatoes down with a spatula or spoon while cooking so that a paste is formed.

When lentils are ready, combine them with the vegetable paste, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Chopped cilantro can be added just before serving to give it a bright flavor (optional).

If your lentils are too watery for your taste, cook the lentil/veg mixture over medium high heat while stirring frequently to reduce down the liquid until its the consistency you desire.

If you want your daal as soup, add more liquid to taste. I love it this way. Or serve with rice or roti.

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