food alchemist ibiza, abi fox, dhal, tarka dhal, indian cooking,
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Red Lentil Tarka Dhal

This staple in Indian cooking is simple quick and cheap to make. And delicious! It is easy to make in bulk so you can freeze and keep in the freezer for those days when you're too busy to cook.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Curry, Gluten Free, Indian, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4


  • 400 g red lentils
  • 2 tsps turmeric
  • knobs of organic ayurvedic ghee coconut oil if vegan
  • 2 tsps cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic finely sliced
  • 2 fresh green chillies finely sliced
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • Knob of fresh ginger grated
  • 3 to matoes chopped
  • And optional is your choice of vegetable i like butternut squash, aubergine or chickpeas.


  • 1. Place the lentils in a pan and cover with enough cold water to come to around two inches above their surface. Bring this to the boil, you may see some white scum at the surface. Take this out and remove to a simmer. 
    2. Add in the turmeric and a generous knob of ghee or coconut oil. Allow this to cook gently. Keep an eye on it, stirring frequently as the lentils tend to get stuck to the pan! 
    3. While the dhal is cooking, heat up a small frying pan. Dry-fry the cumin seeds until toasted and you can smell their delicious flavour. Everyone will walk in the kitchen and say it smells so good! This will only take a couple of minutes. Remove from the pan and set to one side.
    4. Melt another knob of ghee or coconut oil in the same frying pan and gently fry the onion for a few minutes until soft. Then add your garlic, chillies, ginger and tomatoes. 
    5. Once the garlic is golden, mix in the toasted cumin seeds and the garam masala and ground coriander. This really does add a great flavour to the dish. If it looks too dry you can add a little more oil, this is what helps deepen the flavour as well.
    6. Once the lentils are softened, they should resemble a porridge mixture. I don't like my dhal too thin, it should be fairly thick! You can then add the onion mixture.
    7. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with your choice of vegetable curry, basmati rice & indian bread.


It works perfectly well as it is, but I like to add some vegetables to this dish for more nutrients.
Option 1: 
Charred Aubergine: 
Pre-heat oven to 190'c. Cook aubergine for one hour until skin is charred and aubergine feels soft. Let it cool until you can safely remove the skin. 
Squeeze the aubergine to remove the juice which can be bitter, we don't want that! Heat up a pan with coconut oil, & slice into pieces.
Fry aubergine until they have a lovely golden brown exterior. You can add your choice of spices, salt & pepper here too. 
Option 2:
Add the cooked chickpeas into the dahl while you're cooking the onion mixture and let it sit in the dhal to absorb the flavour of the lentils & then the onion mixture. 
Option 3: 
Butternut Squash:
Peel and chop butternut squash into small cubes. The smaller you chop them, the quicker they take to cook. Roast in the oven at 180'c for 30 minutes in some ground coriander, salt, pepper & coconut oil. Then add to the lentil mixture once it's cooked.