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Dal Fry (Dal Tadka)

Dal Fry is a popular Indian lentil recipe. This recipe uses Toor dal, which is also known as Arhar or Toovar dal. The dal is seasoned with variety of spices and it tastes delicious. This is something you often find served at Indian restaurants.

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Serve 4.

Dal Fry (Dal Tadka) Recipe by ManjulaIngredients:

  • 1 cup toor dal, arahar dal
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric


  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee
  • 1 cup tomatoes chopped I used 3 medium size tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
  • 2 whole dry red chili
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon green chili finely chopped adjust to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ginger finely shredded
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro finely chopped (hara dhania)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper adjust to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon mango powder (amchoor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala


  1. Wash and soak toor dal in approx. 3 cups of water, for at least one hours. Dal will be double in volume after soaking. Drain the water.
  2. Put dal with 2-1/2 cups water into a pressure cooker and add salt, turmeric, Cook on medium high heat.
  3. When the pressure cooker starts to steam, turn the heat down to medium and cook for five minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat and wait until all the steam has escaped before opening the pressure cooker. Dal should be soft. If needed add more water, dal should be consistency of thick soup.


  1. Heat the ghee in a saucepan. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed to the oil; if it cracks right away, ghee is ready. Add cumin seeds, and mustard seeds, asafetida, whole red chili. After the seeds crack, add bay leaves, green chili, ginger and chili powder. Stir for a few seconds.
  2. Add tomatoes, salt and sugar stir and cook until tomatoes are tender and mushy.
  3. Add cilantro, mango powder, and garam masala cook for about one minute.
  4. Pour the seasoning over  dal mix it well and cook for another minute.
  5. Dal fry is ready, serve this as a main dish with Indian flat bread or I prefer with plain rice.


Originally posted 2015-01-14 18:11:46.

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49 thoughts on “Dal Fry (Dal Tadka)

  1. Manjula I love cooking Asian food but up until now, have never cooked a meal with lentils. Wanted to make a dal and found your recipe by Googling. Absolutely loved it. I have a Nepalese friend and even she was impressed by what I served up. This will be a dish that I’ll make on a regular basis from now on and can’t wait to try out some of your other recipes. If all are as tasty as this, I may even, at the age of 69 be converted to vegetarianism. Thank you.

  2. Manjulaji, I’ve been cooking your recipes for several years and find them to be very reliable, with perfectly balanced spicing. This dal was so delicious, even though I didn’t have ghee and used canola oil. Hubby and I loved it. Thank you!

  3. I made a triple batch of this dal tadka recipe for my office’s Diwali potluck lunch, and it was fantastic! I’ll definitely make this dish again.
    I substituted coconut oil for the ghee because my wife is vegan, and it tasted just as good as dal tadka I’ve had from a restaurant.

  4. Hello Manjula
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes.
    I am a French vegetarian.
    I adore Indian cookery and living in Paris I am lucky To have found an Amazing Indian supermarket where we can find everything even pomfret fish, grated fresh coconut, fresh curry and methi leaves , hing etc.
    Can you tell me what quantity is a cup.
    We use kilos and not sure To translate cups.
    Many thanks for this wonderful site.

      1. Ms.Brigitte

        250gm dal = 8 ounces (8 x 30gm). Yes you are right. Even if they do not use measuring cups in France, these weight measurements roughly hold good. After your trail and error you can either increase or decrease the quantity of the dal so that the seasoning and spices concentration suites to your taste.

        Good Luck

    1. Keep in mind that 1 kilo is a measure of weight, and 1 cup is a measure of volume. They cannot be converted into one another directly.

      1 measuring cup is about 240 ml, but for simplicity you can use 250 ml=1 cup without any noticeable changes. 1 teaspoon=5 ml, 1 tablespoon=15ml.

  5. Wow! I made a double batch of this yesterday, & it was so good that I made another double batch today! Thanks for this fantastic recipe. My whole family loves it. I can’t wait to explore the rest of your site, Manjula.

  6. Hi Manjula
    Your recipes are amazing and this dal fry is no exception!
    Thank you for sharing and I look forward yo trying many more of your wonderful creations


  8. I was wondering , does the dal structure vary from brand to brand…? Is the soaking step really necessary? Even if I cook the dal without soaking,it gets mushed 🙁 afraid to try this recipe by soaking the dal..

  9. I love watching your videos, they are so helpful! I was wondering, I do not have a pressure cooker, how long would I need to cook the toor dal in a regular saucepan??

  10. Dear Manjula,
    Thanks so much for posting your wonderful recipes! They are all so good! I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve made of yours. This dal fry is one of my favorite dishes! I make it on a regular basis!

  11. This is the best dal I have ever made though mine is a bit overcooked as it is too mushy and stick to the bottom. This is the first time I cook with pressure cooker. But the taste is amazing. My family do not eat onion and garlic so this is perfect for my family. Love watching your cooking show.

  12. Thnk u for introducing me to the world of cooking . I was nvr interested in ths before .but ever since I have started following ur simple home made receipe my familyis loving me more thx agn

  13. Hi Manjula,
    I just wanted to thank you so much for your website! Your recipes are wonderful and I so enjoy watching you cook them. I have made a lot of ayurvedic foods for my health and now I also make your recipes, they are better than any of my other cook books.
    I just wanted you to know how much I enjoy you and your website,
    Thank you!

  14. I made this dish last night and experienced some confusion. Please review the directions under Seasoning, steps 1 & 2. I could not reconcile the ingredient list with these two steps. Is there an error?

  15. I made this tonight and my husband and I both enjoyed it. I used 1/4 tsp. red chili powder instead of 1/2 tsp. because my husband is a little sensitive to spicy hot foods. It was the perfect amount of spiciness. I will be making Dal Tadka again. Thank you, Manjula!

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