Creamy takeaway style Tadka Dahl

Creamy takeaway style Tadka Dahl

4 minute read

As someone that was born in India, dahl is not this exotic dish you see on Instagram but rather a must-have. I think the longest I’ve gone without eating dahl in my lifetime is about five days.

While there are many different ways to cook dahl - and I plan to cover a lot of them! - tadka dahl is the one you’re likely most familiar with. It's on the menu at many Indian takeaways. Despite eating dahl so much at home, my family would always order tadka dahl when we visited an Indian restaurant. I can't think of a more comforting way to finish a meal than to slurp a katori full of dahl. 

Especially, one that's made with my all-time favourite Indian ingredient - ghee.

While tadka dahl is traditionally made with toor/arhar dahl (pigeon pea lentils), you could also make it with chana dahl (split chickpea lentils). The latter will get you a more creamier result. You can make this dahl in a saucepan but it comes together faster in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. If you are planning on making it in a saucepan, ensure you soak your dahl overnight to soften the grains.

Ingredients (serves 4)

First tadka
3 tablespoons ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black mustard seeds
100 gm chopped onions
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
100gm chopped tomatoes (canned will do)
1 green chilly broken in half
200 gm toor/arhar dahl
0.5 tsp turmeric powder
0.5 tsp red chilly powder
1 tsp salt
500 - 600ml water
Final tadka
1 tbsp ghee
5-6 cloves slices garlic
8-10 curry leaves (optional)
2-3 dried Kashmiri chillies broken in half (optional)


  • Soak the dahl in 2-3 cups of water overnight. If you're cooking this in an instant pot you can soak it for a shorter time. Wash the dahl, strain it and set aside. 
  • In a saucepan (or your cooker/instant Pot), heat the ghee. When the ghee is hot and shimmering, add in the cumin seeds and quickly follow it with the mustard seeds.
  • As soon as they splutter, add in the rest of your first tadka ingredients - onion, tomato, green chilly, garlic and ginger paste. Allow the onions to brown and the tomato to fully cook. Stir often so it doesn't stick to your pan. 
  • When the onions are soft, add in your dahl. Mix in the turmeric powder, red chilly powder and salt. Add in the water and stir well. 
  • Cover your pressure cooker/instant pot and allow the dahl to cook for 15-20 minutes. If you're cooking this in a saucepan, keep it uncovered. You will likely need to add more water after 15-20 minutes as the water starts to evaporate. In a saucepan, the dahl normally takes about 40 minutes to cook. 
  • You want the grains to be very soft and start to turn mushy. That's when your dahl is cooked. 
  • Now, it's time for the final tadka. In a separate small saucepan, heat the ghee. Add in your garlic and allow it to turn golden. Add in the curry leaves and the Kashmiri chilly keeping a close eye. Turn the heat off as soon as the curry leaves turn crisp in 3-5 seconds (you might need to physically remove the pan from the heat to keep the tadka from burning).
  • Empty the dahl into your serving bowl and adjust the seasoning if required. Pour the final tadka over the dahl to create that beautiful puddle of ghee.
  • Garnish with coriander and serve hot with rice, adding more ghee if you so wish.
  • If you own a jar of Dolly Mumma ghee, use this at the start and start straight with the onions. For the final tadka, you simply need to warm up the ghee and add in the chopped garlic.

Spiced Ghee

Spiced Ghee


Our Spiced Ghee is also better known as tadka or tempering. Made with locally sourced ghee, our tadka can be used anywhere you'd normally use oil or butter. It is especially magical in soups, dahl and stews. Wheat free |… read more

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