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Top 10 tastiest Indian vegetarian dishes - #5. Garlic & Coriander Tarka dhal

Updated on August 4, 2012
Cast your vote for Garlic & Coriander Tarka dhal


If you love garlic, this dhal is for you. The dhal is seasoned (it’s name is derived from taṛaknā 'to season') with cumin, chillies, ginger and plenty of garlic. All topped off with a generous handful of fresh coriander (cilantro).


Cook Time

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 5 min
Yields: Serves 4


  • 250g / 9oz yellow dried split peas (chana dal)
  • 1 litre/1¾ pints water
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil (or groundnut oil)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 green chillies, seeded & finely chopped
  • 2cm / 1in piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, 2 peeled and left whole, 2 finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • large handful fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped

How to finely chop garlic

Spice Spotlight: Ground Coriander
Derived from grinding the fruit (or dhania in India) of the coriander plant. The taste is warm, nutty, spicy, and orange- (citrus) flavoured. It is one of the spices added to garam masala and countless Indian curries. If you wish to make your own ground coriander, lightly dry-roast the coriander seeds in a non-stick frying pan; cool; then grind in a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder / food processor.


  1. Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.
  2. Put the lentils and water into a pan and bring the water to a boil. Skim any froth off that forms on the surface of the water with a slotted spoon. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes stirring often until the lentils are just tender. Add more water if needed.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry until fragrant (around 20-30 seconds).
  4. Add the onion, chillies and chopped garlic and fry for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the ginger and fry for a further minute.
  6. Blend the whole garlic cloves and tomatoes to a purée in a food processor and add to the pan stirring well.
  7. Add the spices and 100ml/3½fl oz of water to the pan stirring well.
  8. Simmer over a medium heat for 15 minutes.
  9. Add the lentils to the sauce and a little more water to give a thick but not sticky sauce.
  10. Bring the mixture to the boil.
  11. Stir in the coriander (cilantro) and season to taste.
  12. Serve.


A markerindia -
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Dhals (dals) come from all over India.


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      Dale Anderson 5 years ago from The High Seas