Prep 30 mins
Cook 50 mins
This is a variation of Tarka Dahl, a North Indian dish of yellow lentils seasoned with garlic and spiced oil. Although this recipe contains a whole head of garlic, do not be concerned about the garlic being overpowering - it acquires a lovely mellow flavour when roasted. I find it quite delicious. In regard to spiciness, though, to my taste this recipe is quite mild - next time I will include the white inner flesh and seeds of the chili, but you can remove these if you prefer. Incidentally, if you ever take a mouthful of something that is overwhelmingly hot, don’t rush for water – the best remedy is milk, vinegar, or alcohol! Accompany this dish with rice or Indian bread, and a vegetable dish.
- 1 head garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing and drizzling
- 2 tablespoons ghee or 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 fresh green chilies, seeded (optional)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh gingerroot
- 8 ounces split yellow lentils (Toor dhal, Chana dhal, or split yellow peas) or 8 ounces split red lentils (Masoor dhal)
- 3 3⁄4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 1 -2 teaspoon lemon juice
- salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, to garnish
For the Spice Mix
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil or 2 tablespoons other vegetable oil
- 4 -5 asian shallots, peeled and sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon ghee or 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 3 -4 dried red chilies
- 8 -10 fresh curry leaves (or you can use frozen, but not dried)
- Place the whole head of garlic in an oiled roasting tin - I used a little pannacotta mould that the garlic could sit snugly in – and drizzle a little olive oil over the garlic. Pop the garlic in a preheated 350F (180C) oven, and roast it for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash and drain the lentils, and then place them in a large, heavy-bottomed, preferably non-stick pan, with the 3 ¾ cups of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, partially covering the pan with its lid. Stirring occasionally, allow the lentils to simmer for about 35 minutes, or until the mixture starts to take the appearance of very thick soup. You may need to add some water to the pan, from time to time, as it evaporates and the mixture starts to look dry.
- Once you have the lentils on to cook, melt the ghee or butter in a small to medium skillet, and cook the onion, fresh chilies and ginger over low heat, stirring from time to time, until golden – about 10 minutes. Just as the lentils are becoming tender, add the onion mixture to the lentils and stir to combine. Then allow the lentils to finish cooking. Give the skillet a bit of a wipe with kitchen paper, as you will use it again shortly.
- At about this time, the garlic should be soft and tender. Remove it from the oven and let it cool – roasted garlic can be extremely hot, so take care. Cut off the top third of the head, and holding the garlic over a small bowl, squeeze and otherwise dig out the flesh from each clove. Next, mash the garlic with the 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Add the roasted garlic puree, ground cumin and ground coriander to the lentil mixture, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the diced tomatoes and a little lemon juice, to taste. Mix thoroughly, then reduce the heat while you prepare the spice mix.
- Heat the oil in the skillet and fry the sliced shallots until quite crispy and brown. Add the garlic and cook until it just colours slightly – overcooked garlic gets bitter. Remove this mixture from the pan and set it aside.
- Melt the ghee or butter in the same pan, and fry the cumin and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds start popping. Stir in the dried chilies, curry leaves and the shallot mixture, then tip it all into the lentils and swirl it around.
- Garnish the dhal with the fresh cilantro and serve immediately.
I cant rate this as I made a couple of changes. I cooked my lentils in a rice cooker rather than a pan and this seemed to work quite well. I omitted the green chilli and had to use frozen curry leaves as we just cannot get fresh leaves in my neck of the woods. The end result was ok. It didn't set my tastebuds alight but I wasn't sure if this was my changes that did this. I don't think I would make it again as it is quite a drawn out process.
I would give this recipe six stars if I could. It is really excellent.The addition of the roasted garlic is a great touch and overall the finished dish has a lovely creamy texture.A grat economical dish. I'm hooked
Very, very good! I forgot to pick up green chilies at the store so just omitted as felt the dried red chilies at the end would be enough. Both my kids loved this dahl. We had it with naans. Will definitely make again!