We are making yellow dal tadka!
The secret to making a bowl of yellow lentils feel extra special?
Top it up with a heavy drizzle of fragrant, spice-infused ghee!
Stirring warm, aromatic, buttery ghee into a bowl of lentils just before serving transforms a humble soup into a rich and decadent dish.
What is dal tadka?
The word “dal” means lentil soup, and “tadka” is the act of frying aromatics in hot oil or ghee. Therefore dal tadka is a lentil soup that’s topped with fragrant ghee/oil.
There is no one right way to make dal tadka. Different regions and different households spice their dal differently. What you put in a tadka, or tempering, is completely up to you.
This particular recipe is for Punjabi dal tadka and is made with yellow lentils, onion masala, and then topped with a spicy tempering made up of crisp cumin seeds, caramelized onions, and chilies.
What kind of dal do you use when making dal tadka?
Yellow dal tadka or dal fry is what you usually find in restaurants. It’s what most people are referring to when they talk about dal tadka. This popular dal tadka is made using yellow lentils, like moong dal or toor dal, or sometimes a combination of the two.
The pictures in this post are photographed using moong dal, but feel free to use toor dal or masoor dal (red lentils), or again, a combination. Moong dal adds a nice creaminess to dal tadka and so sometimes when I use toor or masoor, I’ll add a bit of moong too.
If you’ve seen my recipe for everyday dal, it is a simpler dal tadka recipe calling for both masoor and moong; overall, it is less flavorful than this restaurant-style yellow dal tadka but it’s a good recipe to make if you don’t have much time and need to make dal using minimal ingredients.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about when I refer to different dals, you’re not alone. I’ve been there – it can be confusing. Read this post I wrote about different types of lentils used in Indian cooking – there are lots of pictures in the post. 🙂
Making dal tadka in an Instant Pot
Typically, when I make dal in the instant pot, I’ll make the tadka first, right in the pot, then add the dal and water overtop and cook.
But with this dal tadka, I’m doing things a bit differently. I’m cooking the lentils with frozen onion masala, spices, and water together first.
Then, I’m making tadka on the stovetop and pouring it overtop the lentils just before serving.
When the dal is done, pour it into a bowl, top it with tadka and then garnish with cilantro. Swirl it all together before you eat 🙂
Serve dal tadka with plain basmati rice or jeera rice or pea pulao. You can also add raita (yogurt) and pickle (achar) on the side, to make this a more complete meal. Enjoy!
- Cilantro garnish
- Add the rinsed dal, water, onion masala, and spices to the instant pot.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 6 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure.
Make the tadka on the stovetop:
- Add ghee to a pan over medium heat and once it melts, add cumin seeds and mustard seeds. When the cumin seeds brown, add the onion and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown, then add the green chili, dried red chilies, hing, stir, then add the Kashmiri red chili and immediately remove from heat.
- Pour the (red) tadka on top of the dal.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.