Friday, 29 May 2009

Tarka Dhal -- Food of the Gods

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Tarka Dhal -- Food of the Gods

The classic. Full of protein, cheap as chips. The 'Tarka' is what gives this dish its oomph.


  1. 200 grams red lentils
  2. 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  3. 1 teaspoon turmeric, heaped
  4. 1 onion, finely sliced
  5. 1 teaspoon asafoetida, heaped
  6. 3-4 tablespoons ghee
  7. Salt & (optional) lemon juice
  8. 3-4 tablespoons ghee
  9. 4-6 cloves garlic, roughly crushed
  10. 2-4 shallots, sliced finely
  11. 1 teaspoon asafoetida (or, easier, garlic salt).


  1. To make the Dhal:
  2. Heat the ghee/oil in a saucepan
  3. Add the onions, garlic and fry for 3-5 mins.
  4. Add the asafoetida and turmeric. Fry for a further 5 mins.
  5. Now add the lentils (picked over to remove any grit/stones) and enough boiling water so you've got at least twice the depth of the lentil/onion mixture. bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered for about 30 mins, stirring occasionally. You'll be surprised how much the lentils expand in the is time.
  6. You want to keep simmering until the lentils have almost all disintegrated and you have a soupy consistency.
  7. Taste and add salt to taste and lemon juice (optional)
  8. What I do, additionally, is throw in some roughly chopped coriander leaves until they wilt, and even fresh chopped green chillies. I also cheat and use garlic salt to give it a bit more 'oomph').

  9. To Make the Tarka:
  10. In a small frying pan, heat the Ghee (OK, you can use oil, but it won't be any good)
  11. When it starts bubbling, throw in the shallots and garlic, and separate the shallots, as much as possible, into individual rings in the pan.
  12. With a medium heat, keep watching. You want it so that the shallots and garlic both turn darkish brown, but don't burn. They'll start to have a wonderful, nutty, sweet taste.
  13. Then throw in the asafoetida compound, or garlic salt, stir around, and pour the mixture over the dhal. It will float on the surface. Sprinkle over some coriander leaves for garnish.
  14. Additionally you can later add dried red chillies, curry leaves, fennel seeds or black mustard seeds to the tarka
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