Niki’s Tarka Dhal

What’s the difference between a normal dhal and a Tarka dhal? Well, the Tarka’s a little ‘otter and dare I say, sexier?! But seriously, Tarka signifies that the dhal has been tempered with a mixture of crisp fried garlic, onion and chilli towards the end of cooking, a process which adds a total flavour bomb to the lentils. I have always preferred a tarka dhal as oppose to a regular one simply because of the levels of flavour that can be achieved here and the different textures. Ultimately, for me,  It’s all about the time you put into making it creamy (without any dairy!) and lush and adding all the spices that really makes a good dhal. Here’s my version which uses an array of wonderful spices from @steenbergsltd which really helps to elevate this tarka dhal:


250g of split red lentils

1 teaspoon of chilli flakes @steenbergsltd

½ teaspoon of ground turmeric @steenbergsltd

A pinch of nigella seeds @steenbergsltd

A pinch of Allepo chilli flakes @steenbergsltd

A pinch of curry leaves @steenbergsltd

½ teaspoon of coriander seeds, crushed @steenbergsltd

½ teaspoon of traditional salt @steenbergsltd

1 pinch of onion flakes @steenbergsltd

A pinch of Kashmiri chilli powder @steenbergltd

A couple of cardamom pods, de podded and crushed seeds @steenbergsltd

A pinch of garam masala @steenbergsltd

A pinch of asafoetida @steenbergsltd

For the tarka:

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

5 spring onions, sliced finely

A generous drizzle of coconut yoghurt and pomegranate molasses

A few slices of carrots and beetroot and fresh coriander, for garnish

A pinch of nigella seeds @steenbergsltd

A pinch of crushed chilli flakes @steenbergsltd

A pinch of allepo chilli flakes @steenbergsltd

A pinch of garlic powder @steenbergsltd   

A couple of lime wedges and extra coriander, to serve


  1. Start off by cooking off your red split pea lentils. Wash them well and drain a couple of times. Then bring to the boil in around 500ml of water which is seasoned with asafoetida.  
  1. Simmer the dhal until it is broken down, thick and gloopy. Add this stage, all in all your spices for the dhal and mix well. Lower the heat and keep an eye on it as it sticks and burns easily, also you may need to add a drop of water during cooking. Once totally tender, turn the heat off and put to one side.
  1. In a separate large pan, heat a tablespoon of the coconut oil and fry the spring onion until brown and crispy, taking care not to burn them. Add in all the spices for the tarka and cook them off for a couple of minutes, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil at this stage, mix well.
  1. While it’s  still hot, pour this masala into the dhal and stir to combine well. Your dhal is now tarka’d. Garnish well and tuck in! Best served warm.

Hi there!

Welcome to my page, dedicated to sharing healthy and tasty food for all. Enjoy!

Niki x