Dal Tadka with Cumin Rice

My love for Indian food goes way back. I have my mom to thank for introducing Indian food to me at such a young age. We have been going to Indian restaurants ever since I was a little kid. I now like making Indian food just as much as I enjoy eating it. I am always experimenting with new Indian dishes in my kitchen. I have made homemade paneer cheese, roti bread, lamb vindaloos, and more. The thing that I love about Indian food is that it has so many dimensions of flavor. Every dish has its own unique set of spices, ingredients, and aromas. It is like a party for the senses.

Believe it or not, when I was a little kid I was a super picky eater. No one would have ever thought, back then, that I would one day be a food blogger. For some reason, when we would go to Indian restaurants I would throw away all of my pickiness. I was way more adventurous and was willing to try almost everything on the menu. I enjoyed the flavors so much that I didn’t even mind eating food that I don’t normally like. I think trying new foods at Indian restaurants is partly what lead me to be an adventurous eater. I still am always trying new foods at Indian returants, all the time.

Dal Tadka is a popular dish all over India. The style of Dal Tadka that I have made is one from the northern region. Dal is a staple in Indian cuisine. Each state has their own delicious versions of the dish. Dal Tadka happens to be one of my favorites and is very popular in Indians restaurants, here in the United States. This dish is typically served with cumin rice and roti, just as I have. Roti is an Indian flatbread that happens to also be a favorite of mine. Dal is a dish that is very simple but packed with flavor. To make dal, you cook lentils until they are soft and then you add in the tadka, to top it off.

Tadka is the Hindi word for tempering. Tempering, which is a big part of cooking Indian food, is the process of frying spices & herbs in oil then adding into it to a dish, to finish it off. The spices release essential oils which deepen the flavor, aroma, and taste of the final dish that the tempering is added to. It is what really makes the fIndianindian food so unique. 

You should adjust the spice level to your own personal preference. In my house, we like to make it really spicy. If we aren’t sweating from the heat of the spices, then it clearly was under seasoned for us. I know that not everyone loves super spicy food, like us, so I made the recipe just a tad spicy. If you are not so into spicy food at all you can easily lower the amount of spices even more. I hope after making this dish, you will be inspired to make more of your own Indian food.  I promise you the results are worth all the effort.

Dal Tadka with Cumin Rice


    For the Dal:
  • 1 cup yellow lentils
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 green chili, seeded and diced
  • ½ inch ginger, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 dried red chilies, deseeded (optional)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
    For the Rice:
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup basmati rice


    For the Dal:
  1. Soak the lentils in a bowl of water for 45 minutes, then drain.
  2. Pour the lentils in a bowl with 3 cups water and bring to a boil, simmer for 45 minutes until soft.
  3. In another pot heat up 2 tablespoon of oil then add in the onion, tomato, chili, and ginger and saute for 10-15 minutes, until soft.
  4. Add in the cooked lentils, a cup of water, chili powder, turmeric, and coriander powder and continue cooking on a low flame for 15 minutes
  5. Add in the coconut milk and continue cooking for another 15 minutes.
  6. To finish it off, make a tadka, in a small pot, by frying the cumin seeds, garlic, and dried red chilies for about 30-45 seconds.
  7. Add in the tadka to the lentils and stir to combine.
  8. Serve with cumin rice and roti bread.
    For the Rice:
  1. Rinse then drain the rice in a bowl twice then fill back up with water and soak the rice for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large pot heat up the oil then add in the cumin seeds until they begin to pop and sizzle.
  3. Add in your water very carefully then the rice.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce the flame to low and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Take the rice off of the flame and set aside for 5 minutes then serve.

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