Tarka Dhal – Indian Style Red Lentils

I can’t get enough of these lentils! Garlicky and spicy … the perfect combination. You can make it more or less liquid by adding more or less base gravy. The fried garlic is an absolute must! Don’t skip this part. This dish freezes very well so make a big batch and defrost as needed. Re-heat in a pan.



For the Base Gravy
5 smashed garlic cloves
1 lb of roughly chopped onions
1 lb of sliced carrots
½ can of peeled tomatoes
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
½ cup of cilantro stems
1 tsp galangal – You can also use fresh, dried or frozen (2 dried slices or 1 square inch of fresh)
1 tsp ground ginger – fresh, dried or frozen (2 dried slices or 1 square inch of fresh)
1 tsp sea salt
1 small red Thai chili
Water to top ingredients
1 tbsp of mild curry powder
1 ½ tsp of turmeric powder
1 tsp of cumin

For the rest
2 cups of red lentils
8 cups of chicken or vegetable broth – I prefer chicken
8 garlic cloves, peeled (6 chopped and 2 sliced into thin slivers)
1 chopped onion
4 tbsp of ghee or vegetable oil
½ tsp of red or green Thai chili (fresh or frozen)
½ tsp of chili powder
1 tsp of curry powder
1 to 2 cups of base gravy
1 chopped tomato
chopped cilantro


Follow the Steps in This Order

Make your base gravy
Cook the red lentils
Make the base gravy
Bring the recipe together

Cook Your Red Lentils First
Rinse your lentils in running water until the water runs clear
Place into a slow cooker, crock pot or heavy lidded pan
Add 2 cups of broth and cook for 45 minutes until tender (it will take longer in the crock pot or slow cooker)
Meanwhile, make your base gravy

Make the Base Gravy
Place all the ingredients in a large pan
Cook on medium heat for an hour and 15 minutes – covered
When vegetables are cooked, add the curry powder, turmeric and cumin
Cook for a further 5 minutes
Take off the heat and let it cool down somewhat
If you used dried ginger and galangal, remove them from the pot
Blend all ingredients very well with a hand blender

Bringing the Recipe Together
In a heavy bottomed pan, Fry the onion in oil until they are transparent but not caramelized
Add the 6 chopped garlic cloves and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes
Add the curry powder, chili powder and chili and fry for a minute
Add the precooked lentils
Add the onion gravy and stir well
Fry the slivers of garlic until they darken – careful not to burn them
Add the chopped tomato and slithers of garlic, stir and warm up if necessary
Top with chopped cilantro

© 2014-2015 Caroline’s Family Kitchen and CarolinesFamilyKitchen.com


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