Tarka Dhal is traditionally served with an Indian bread, or consumed as a side in the UK, which is why our Chef Phil couldn't resist creating his own version to accompany our new Naan Bites with Spice Onion Bhaji, chilli and toasted onion seasoning. The perfect addition to curry night!

Dip for 6 people


For the Dhal

  • 150g Yellow Lentils (soaked for 1 hour)
  • 2tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 1 White Onion (medium)
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 Bird Eye Chilli
  • 4 Curry Leaves
  • ½tsp Turmeric
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • Salt to taste

For the Tarka

  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 Shallot
  • 2tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • ½tsp Black Mustard Seeds
  • ½ Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Curry Leaves
  • 3 dried Kashmiri Chillis
  • 1tbsp Garam Masala
  • 10g Chopped Fresh Coriander



(The dhal can be made in advance and reheated to serve, the Tarka is best when made just before serving)

  1. Finely dice the onion, lightly crush the garlic, and score the chilli lengthways.
  2. In a large pan sweat the onion in the vegetable oil until softened.
  3. Then add the garlic, chilli and curry leaves, continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Stir in the turmeric and cook for another 30 seconds.
  5. Drain the lentils and add them to the pan. Fill the pan with fresh water until the lentils are covered by about 4cm.
  6. Bring to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes. The lentils want to be tender but retain some bite.
  7. De-seed the tomatoes and cut into a small dice, around 5mm.
  8. Once the lentils are cooked stir the diced tomato into the dhal and season to taste and set aside.

(If making the dhal in advance do not add the tomatoes until you have reheated it)


(Make the tarka just before serving the dip)

  1. Peel and finely slice the shallot and garlic, the finer the better.
  2. On a medium heat warm the vegetable oil in a heavy based frying pan, add the mustard seeds and continue to cook until they start to pop.
  3. (The next stage will happen quite quickly) Add the sliced shallot and garlic to the pan along with the cinnamon, curry leaves and Kashmiri chilli. Keep an eye on the pan stirring continually.
  4. We are looking for the shallot and garlic to start to turn golden but watch out as they will quickly over cook and become bitter.
  5. When the shallot and garlic begin to colour remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Garam Masala.
  6. Put the dhal into a serving dish, pour the tarka over the top (oil and all), then sprinkle with the chopped coriander.


If you want to add a creamy twist, add a spoon full of natural yoghurt to the top of the dhal before adding the tarka.

You can remove the whole spices from the tarka pre-serving, but I quite like the rustic appearance.


Phil Hovey, KETTLE Chef with Tarka Dhal and a bag of new ETTLE Naan Bites

March 31, 2022