Simple Tarka Daal (Red Lentils)

Red Split Lentils are by far the quickest lentils to cook. They need no pre-soaking. This dish is so simple to make, spicy and delicious to eat as a healthy main meal or a lunch time alternative, as a soup with delicious thick seeded bread.

Serves: 4 Prep Time: 10 mins Cook Time: 20 mins


  • 250g Red Split Lentils

  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree

  • 3-4 cloves Garlic - finely chopped

  • 1 inch chunk Ginger - finely chopped

  • Fresh coriander

  • 4 tbsp Rapeseed or Vegetable oil

  • Salt to taste


  • 2 Bay Leaves

  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri Basaar (1tsp for more heat)

  • 1tsp Madras Powder

  • 1tsp Ground Coriander

  • 1tsp Garam Masala

  • 1tsp Cumin Powder


  1. Wash the lentils in warm water until the water runs clear.

  2. Cook lentil in a medium sized pot, cover the lentils with water, (about an inch of water above the level of lentils), add salt, madras powder and the bay leaves, bring to a boil and then lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 mins or until the water has reduced. (TIP: Balance a wooden spoon across the top of the pot, this will stop the water boiling over and spilling)

  3. Once the lentils are cooked, stir in the tomato puree and remaining spices and continue to simmer on a very low heat.

  4. In the meantime chop the garlic and ginger finely.

  5. In a separate small frying pan, pour in the oil and heat, add in the garlic and ginger and fry until the garlic is slightly browned.

  6. Carefully, pour in the oil mixture into the Daal and stir. Sprinkle over the Garam Masala.

  7. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve

Serve with rice as a main meal, or with bread for lunch.

A teaspoon of mint sauce adds a lovely tang to the dish and goes great with Daal.

I also love Daal with a side of homemade onion pickle - (well almost a pickle) - this is a family recipe. Simply chop up some red onion, soak in water and salt and leave for 10 mins, remove the onions from the water and squeeze out any excess water. Place the onion into a small dish, add some mint sauce, and pour over some malt vinegar. This is now ready to eat as an accompaniment to your Daal dish.

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