Dal Tadka (Restaurant style recipe) with secret ingredients

Learn to make Dal Tadka restaurant style at home in under 30 minutes. It is a popular lentil dish in India. It is a favorite dal dish in Indian restaurants and dhabas.

Restaurant or Dhaba-style dishes are popular for aroma, the explosion of flavors, and perfect texture. Today’s tadka dal recipe has it all.

dal tadka

What is Dal Tadka?

Dal=Lentils and Tadka=Tempering put together Dal tadka means lentils stew with tempering.

Dal is topped with a layer of red hot fat (oil or ghee or butter) that has the essence and flavors of the crackling spices. For me, the tadka is the heart of this dish.

Dal is a staple in the Indian subcontinent. Almost every home has a favorite dal and has a special way of cooking. In my house, South Indian dals like Sambar, tomato pappu (thick tomato dal), palakura pappu (thick spinach dal), rasam, pappu charu, etc are made.

There are different types of dal in the country, and the selection of dal types and cooking methods varies depending on the region.

Toor is common in the west and south India. Whereas, chana dal, urad/udad dal are common in north India.

In English toor dal is Split Pigeon peas or Yellow lentils. In Hindi, dal has different names like Toor dal, Tur dal, Tuvar dal, Arhar dal, Peeli dal.

Tempering a food item is a common method in Indian cuisine. With so many states in the country, tempering has different names Iike chauk, baghar, talimpu, tarka and the ingredients vary. Depending on the dish and region, tempering is done either at the start of making a dish or at the end when the dish is ready.

Unlike, everyday dal made in Indian houses, Dal tarka is different in consistency, taste, and flavors. The dal is low on spice level but high in flavors. However, at home, you can adjust the spice level as per your preference.

Almost every Indian restaurant has this mouth-watering dish on their menu and is one of the most ordered items too.

Difference between Dal fry and Dal tadka?

The only difference between the two is tempering.

Dal Fry has only one tempering. The soft-cooked dal is added to the tempering of a few whole spices, chopped green chilies, onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, spice powders, and garnished with coriander leaves.

Dal tadka is twice tempered Dal Fry, which means first you have to make dal fry and add a second tadka (fried in ghee or oil) of chopped garlic, cumin seeds, dry red chili, a pinch of asafoetida, and red chili powder.

Dal Fry is healthier compared to Tadka dal. At home, you always have an option to reduce the fat.

Is Dal Tadka the same in restaurants and dhabas?

The major difference between the two is the selection of dal.

In restaurants, single dal (toor) or tuvar and moong dal (for thick consistency) are used.

Whereas, in dhabas mix of lentils (toor dal, moong dal, and chana dal) is used which makes Dal Tadka cost-effective.

Dal tadka recipe

I simply love this tadka dal and order whenever we visit a restaurant or dhaba. This is one dal dish I relish with tandoori rotis, butter naan, or jeera rice.

Every time I eat dal items in a restaurant, the taste is mesmerizing and I always question myself, Why the dal at home does not taste the same?

I try to replicate popular restaurant dishes at home. I have tried many recipes by referring to various social media platforms. After many trials, I can assure you this recipe is the exact restaurant style Dal Tadka that we get in North Indian restaurants.

It is just unbelievable that this super delicious dal is super simple to make. Reminds me of common words by many professional chefs, keep a dish simple and never complicate it.

Also, the ingredients are minimal and basic in an Indian pantry. So you may ask me, why are we not able to replicate the taste. The secret lies in the blend of ingredients and the process of making it. With this recipe, making dhal tadka at home is super easy. And, with the tips, you will be able to replicate the restaurant quality at home.

The recipe to make Dal Tadka has 3 steps:

1. Cook the dal.

2. Make Dal Fry.

3. Add tadka.

The sizzling hot tadka which is a mixture of crisp cumin seeds, and fried garlic makes the ordinary dal outstanding.

So far, I had this dal at many restaurants and dhabas. I noticed there are many variations in tadka. Some add sliced onion and saute till golden brown, some load the dish with spices.

The recipe I’m sharing today is my personal favorite which is common across many restaurants.

Reasons to make

Tastes exactly the same as a restaurant.

Minimal ingredients

Dal chawal, is the ultimate comfort food.

Great side dish for jeera rice or plain basmati rice, or any Indian flatbread.

One of the easiest meal options for lunch or dinner.

Skip ghee and asafoetida to make it Vegan.

The dish is wholesome, super healthy, and nutritious.

Protein-packed.

Ingredients to make restaurant-style Dal Tadka

Dal: The recipe has a combination of toor dal and a small amount of moong dal. I prefer this combination, as they both take the same time to break down. Also, they add thickness and create a lusciously rich and creamy texture.

Veggies: In this dal, you only need onion and tomato. Do not use canned tomatoes or tomato puree.

Green chilies: As per your taste buds.

Ginger & Garlic: Finely chopped. I would not recommend using paste.

Oil & Ghee: I use oil to make dal fry and ghee for tadka. You can replace ghee with butter, to make Dal Butter Tadka.

Whole spices: Bay leaf and black cardamom.

Asafoetida Powder (hing)

Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves): A key ingredient in any restaurant or dhaba dishes. Punjabi dishes are incomplete without this secret ingredient. For exact restaurant flavor, do not skip it.

Coriander leaves: Adds freshness and aroma to the dal.

Amchur powder: To add tang taste. It is also one of the secret ingredients which very few chefs add.

Tempering ingredients: cumin seeds, dry red chilies, red chili powder in the first tempering, kashmiri red chili powder in the second tempering, coriander powder, jeera powder, and salt to taste.

How to make Dal tadka

1. Cook the dal

Wash both the dals and add in a pressure cooker. Add sufficient water (I add twice the water of dal), a pinch of turmeric powder, and 1 tsp oil.

Close the lid of the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or until the dal is cooked soft. Switch off the flame and keep it aside.

2. Make Dal Fry

1. Heat oil in a pan or kadai. When hot, add cumin seeds, bay leaf, black cardamom, and dry red chili. Let the seeds crackle.

2. Add chopped garlic and ginger. Saute for 5-10 seconds. Do not let the garlic change the color.

3. Add chopped green chilies and onions. Saute on medium flame till they turn soft.

4. Next, add finely chopped tomato and saute till they become soft.

5. Add salt to taste, a little turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, kasuri methi, and amchur powder.

6. Add cooked dal and hot water. Give a good mix. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

7. Add chopped coriander leaves and mix gently.

8. At this stage, Dal Fry is ready. The next step is to add tadka.

3. Add the tadka

9. Heat ghee in a small pan or skillet. When hot, reduce the flame to medium and add chopped garlic.

10. Add cumin seeds and dry red chili. Let the seeds crackle.

11. Add asafoetida (hing) and stir well.

12. Turn off the flame and add kashmiri red chili powder. Immediately add the tadka to the hot dal.

Restaurant style Dal Tadka is ready. Garnish with coriander and serve hot as a side dish with jeera rice or your choice of flatbread.

Pro tips

Use fresh ingredients for the best taste and aroma. Trust me, it makes a big difference in taste.

Cook the dal soft. You can cook the dal in a pressure cooker, in an Instant Pot, or on the stovetop.

Do not brown the onions, it will affect the color of the dish. Cook the onions only till soft.

Avoid adding more red chili powder. Retain the yellow color of dal. To make dal spicy, increase green chilies.

Keep the consistency of dal neither thin nor thick, same as in restaurants. It tastes good with Indian flatbreads or rice varieties. However, you can adjust the water quantity for preferred consistency.

The dish is heavy in fats. For an original restaurant taste, use ghee for tadka.

Avoid any strong or flavored oil like peanut oil, coconut oil, safflower oil, or mustard oil. In restaurants, neutral oil is used. The hot fat increases the flavors of spices and acts as a carrier of aroma and flavors of spices when poured onto a dish.

There are Punjabi Dhabas, which use mustard oil to make the dish. You can choose the oil according to your preferences.

The final tadka is just a matter of seconds. So, make sure you have all the ingredients handy.

For tadka the oil should be hot. Once, hot reduce the flame to medium and add the spices. If ingredients are added to cold oil, the spices will not crackle and release the aroma.

Turn off the gas before adding red chili powder, to avoid it from burning.

What can you serve with Dal Tadka?

For me, this dish is more of curry than dal. So, the best part about making this dal is that being a versatile dish, it goes well with almost anything.

You can serve it with any rice variety like jeera rice, basmati rice, and with a side of dry vegetable sabzi like Cauliflower Fry, Potato Fry.

One of my favorite combinations is homemade Dal tadka and rumali roti or butter naan from a nearby restaurant.

At home, you can pair it with flatbreads made with wheat flour like roti, phulka, plain parathas, laccha paratha, tawa paratha.

How to store Dal Tadka?

You can refrigerate the leftover for 2-4 days in an air-tight container. Make sure to cool the dal completely.

Before serving. reheat in a microwave or on a stovetop. The consistency of the dal will be thick, so add little water and mix thoroughly. Microwave until warm or hot.

Stovetop: Add the dal to a pot or pan and on medium flame heat until it’s hot.

Would recommend adding a fresh tadka. The dal will taste as

This dal is one of the best options for meal prep. Prepare this ahead of time or on a weekend and refrigerate. This ready-to-go meal is an answer to many questions on weekdays, What to prepare? What to pack in the lunch box for the office? After a busy day at home, no energy to make dinner. If you are expecting guests and short on time to cook.

A solution to the above questions is, to refrigerate the yellow dal fry in small portions. Reheat and add ghee tadka, the dal will taste as good as freshly made.

Variations

In restaurants, only toor dal or a mix of moong dal is used. But, there are places where combinations of different lentils like chana dal, masoor dal, and udad dal are used.

At home, you can mix toor dal, moong dal, and chana dal. Please note, chana dal takes more time to cook.

Also, there are variations in the tadka. The dhabas in the South add curry leaves in the second tadka.

dhaba style dal tadka

If you have tried this authentic restaurant-style Dal Tadka recipe and liked it, do rate by clicking on the stars, and comment below. Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.

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Recipe Card

Dal Tadka (Restaurant style recipe)

Author: Santosh Allada
Dal tadka which translates to tempered lentils stew is a North Indian style dal. The secret of Restaurant or Dhaba Dal tadka is the ingredients and process to make it. This recipe has all you need to match restaurant quality at home.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Servings 5 people

Ingredients
  

To cook the Dal

  • 1 cup Toor dal
  • 1/4 cup Moong dal
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 3 cups Water (more or less as required)

For Dal Fry

  • 2 tbsp Oil
  • 2 medium Bay leaf
  • 1 Black cardamom (crush it lightly)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 3-4 Garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 2 inch Ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 medium Onion (chopped)
  • 2-3 Green chilies (as per your taste)
  • 1 medium Tomato (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Red chili powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kasuri methi
  • 1/2-1 tsp Amchur powder
  • 1 cup Hot water
  • Coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste

For Tadka

  • 1-2 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2-4 Garlic cloves (chopped)
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1-2 Dry red chili
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida (hing)

Instructions
 

Cook the Dal

  • Wash both the dals thoroughly and add in a pressure cooker. Add sufficient water (I add twice the water of dal), a pinch of turmeric powder, 1 tsp oil.
  • Close the lid of the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or until the dal is cooked soft. Switch off the flame and keep it aside.

Make Dal Fry

  • Heat oil in a pan or kadai. When hot, add cumin seeds, bay leaf, black cardamom, and dry red chili. Let the seeds crackle.
  • Add chopped garlic and ginger. Saute for 5-10 seconds. Do not let the garlic change the color.
  • Add chopped green chilies and onions. Saute on medium flame till they turn soft.
  • Next, add finely chopped tomato and saute till they become soft.
  • Add salt to taste, a little turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, kasuri methi, and amchur powder.
  • Add cooked dal and hot water. Give a good mix. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add chopped coriander leaves and mix gently.
  • At this stage, Dal Fry is ready. The next step is to add tadka.

Add the Tadka

  • Heat ghee in a small pan or skillet. When hot, reduce the flame to medium and add chopped garlic.
  • Add cumin seeds and dry red chili. Let the seeds crackle.
  • Add asafoetida (hing) and stir well.
  • Turn off the flame and add red chili powder. Immediately add the tadka to the hot dal.
  • Restaurant style Dal Tadka is ready. Serve hot as a side dish with jeera rice or your choice of flatbread.

Notes

Dal tadka is a mildly spiced dish. You can make it spicy by adding more chili powder and green chilies.
The dal will thicken as it cools. Adjust the consistency as per your preference by adding more or less water.


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