Punjabi Yellow Dal Tadka

4.49 from 41 votes

Make this delicious Restaurant-Style Yellow Dal Tadka at home in under 30 minutes using simple ingredients. This popular Indian recipe can be made in an instant pot or a traditional stovetop pressure cooker (vegetarian, can be easily made vegan and gluten-free).

Punjabi yellow dal tadka served in a bowl.
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About Dal Tadka

Punjabi Dal Tadka is a delicious Indian lentil curry made using arhar dal (toor dal, yellow pigeon peas lentils) and yellow moong dal (skinned petite yellow lentils).

It is one of the most popular dishes to order at Indian restaurants or Dhaba (Indian roadside eateries).

Dal = lentils and tadka = tempering. Dal tadka translates to lentils with tempering. The lentils are cooked and then tempered with a spicy ghee tempering (tadka) of cumin seeds, asafetida (hing), dry red chilies, fresh ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and red chili powder.

I am sharing a restaurant-style Punjabi yellow dal tadka recipe in this post.

This lentil curry is easy to make, uses basic ingredients, and comes together in under 30 minutes. It tastes just like the one served at your favorite Indian restaurant.

You can cook the lentils in an instant pot or a traditional stovetop pressure cooker.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it is very customizable. By making a few minor changes, you can easily make it vegan and gluten-free.

You must have tasted a unique smoky flavor when this dal is served at a restaurant; that taste is easy to replicate at home. I have shared the secret in the recipe below, so read along.

This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. I made it in my 3-quart instant pot (or a 3-liter stovetop cooker). If you want to scale it, use a 6-quart instant pot (or a 5-liter pressure cooker). The time of cooking the dal will remain the same.

Here are some more dal recipes

Ingredients

All the ingredients to make Punjabi tadka dal are available easily in any Indian grocery store or online.

Dal tadka ingredients 1
Dal tadka ingredients 2
Dal tadka tempering ingredients.

To Cook The Dal

Dal – You will need arhar dal (yellow pigeon peas) and yellow moong dal (skinned petite yellow lentil) to make this simple yet delicious lentil recipe. Some people use pink masoor dal (pink lentil) instead of arhar dal; you can try that version too.

Note – You can use toor dal or pink masoor dal, but adding a little moong dal is important to make dal tadka creamy.

Oil – Use any cooking oil to make the masala. Some options include canola oil, sunflower oil, light olive oil, etc.

Others – You will also need red onions, fresh ginger, garlic, green chillies, fresh tomatoes, coriander powder, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, salt, freshly squeezed lime juice, and cilantro (fresh coriander leaves).

I used Indian green chilies, but you can use jalapeno peppers, Serrano chiles, or Thai green chilies.

Lime juice can be replaced with lemon juice.

You can also add a teaspoon of crushed Kasuri methi at the end of cooking.

For The Tempering

To temper the yellow dal tadka recipe, you will need ghee, asafetida (hing), cumin seeds, dry red chillies, garlic, and Kashmiri red chilli powder.

To Smoke The Lentils (Optional)

If you like the restaurant or Dhaba-style smoky flavor in your dal, you will need a charcoal piece and a teaspoon of ghee.

Use the charcoal briquettes that are used in the grill. You can also source wood charcoal. If it’s unavailable, use a whole cinnamon stick in its place.

How To Make Yellow Dal Tadka

Cook The Dal

In An Instant Pot

Wash ½ cup arhar dal and ¼ cup moong dal with water 2 to 3 times until the water clears.

Soak the lentils in 2-3 cups of water and keep them aside.

Press the SAUTE button on the instant pot.

Saute button pressed.

Once it says hot, add 2 tablespoon oil to the inner pot.

Oil added to the pot.

Once the oil is hot and shimmery, add ½ cup of chopped red onions and cook until they turn light brown (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.

Onions added to the pan.

Add 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

Ginger and garlic added to the pan.

Add 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies and ½ cup chopped tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking.

Chilies and tomatoes added to the pan.

Now add

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder

and cook for a minute.

Spice powders added to the pan.

Drain the water from the lentils, add them to the pot with 3 cups of water and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir well.

Lentils added to the pan.
Water and salt added to the pan.

Close the pot’s lid and set the valve to the sealing position.

Lid of the instant pot closed.

Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 10 minutes on high pressure. The instant pot will take some time to build pressure and start the timer.

Pressure cook button pressed and timer set to 10 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Then release the remaining pressure manually by moving the valve to the venting position. Use a cloth or a spoon to move the valve to avoid steam burn.

Open the lid of the pot.

Add 1 tablespoon lime juice to the pot and mix the cooked dal well using a wire whisk or a madani until it is smooth and creamy.

Add some more water if the dal is too thick for your liking, and bring it to a boil by pressing the SAUTE button.

Check for salt and add more if needed. Set the cooked dal aside.

Whisked cooked dal.

In A Traditional Pressure Cooker

Follow the steps until water and salt are added to a pressure cooker over medium-high heat.

Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook for one whistle on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally.

Open the lid of the cooker.

Add 1 tablespoon lime juice to the pot and mix the cooked dal well using a wire whisk or a madani until it is smooth and creamy. Add some more water if the dal is too thick for your liking, and bring it to a boil.

Check for salt and add more if needed. Set the cooked dal aside.

Note – You can cook the lentils over the stovetop in a pot. This method takes a lot of time and is not recommended. But if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can cook them this way. You will have to add more water and cook for a longer time.

Temper The Dal Tadka

Once the lentils are cooked, let’s give them a tempering.

Heat 2 tablespoon ghee in a small, thin-bottomed pan over medium-high heat.

Once the ghee is hot, add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and ¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing) and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.

Cumin seeds and asafetida added to hot ghee.

Add 2-3 whole dry red chilies and 2 tablespoon minced garlic and fry until golden brown. Stir frequently.

Dry red chilies and garlic added to the pan.

Switch off the heat and add 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder to the pan.

Chili powder added to the pan.

Pour the tempering immediately over the cooked lentils and mix well.

Tempering poured over the dal.

Garnish with 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Ready dal tadka garnished with cilantro.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get the smoky flavor in the tadka daal?

The dal tadka we taste at the dhabas or restaurants has a distinct smoky flavor. That is because they are made on a wood fire.

To get a similar smoky flavor at home, you can use dhungar method to smoke your dal once it’s made. Heat a piece of charcoal (or a whole cinnamon stick) over a direct flame until it is red hot. Keep a steel bowl in the center of the dal.

Keep the hot charcoal piece in the bowl. Drizzle 1 teaspoon ghee over the coal and immediately close the pan lid. Let the dal absorb the smoke for 10-15 minutes. Open the lid and discard the coal. Pour the leftover ghee into the dal and mix well. Your smoky dal is ready.

How to make vegan dal tadka?

To make it vegan, substitute ghee with any cooking oil. All the other ingredients used to make this dal are vegan.

How to make gluten-free dal tadka?

Just avoid adding hing (asafetida). Though it adds a beautiful flavor to the dal, you must skip adding it for a gluten-free version.

Do I have to soak the dal?

It is not necessary. But if you have time on your hands, soak both the dals for about 30 minutes, which will help them cook faster and become easily digestible.
Soaking activates a compound called amylase that breaks down complex starch in lentils and makes them easier to digest. The soaking process also removes the gas-causing compounds.

Variations

Different lentil combinations – Punjabi dal tadka is usually made using the combination of moong dal and arhar dal. Some people also use moong dal and masoor dal to make it.

With Chana Dal – You can also use chana dal, moong dal, or masoor dal to make dal tadka. Other ingredients and processes will remain the same.

With Eggs – A popular variation of this recipe is egg dal tadka which is available in many roadside Dhabas. To make it, cook the dal as mentioned in the recipe. Now start to make the tempering. Once you have added all the tempering ingredients, break an egg into the pan and scramble it. Now pour this tempering with egg into the cooked dal. Your egg dal tadka is ready.

Serving Suggestions

The best part about Punjabi-style dal tadka is that it’s a very versatile recipe, and it goes with pretty much anything; it can be served with Jeera Rice, Plain Basmati Rice, Brown Rice, or Roti.

It tastes delicious with other flatbreads such as Plain Tawa Paratha, Lachha Paratha, Naan, Khamiri Roti, Tandoori Roti, or Garlic Naan.

It’s also a popular dal made for get-togethers or festive meals, and there’s nothing like a good dal curry to devour a bowl of steamed rice.

Storage Suggestions

Dal tadka will easily last in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. Just store it in an air-tight container.

To reheat, use a pan or microwave and heat it until nice and warm. Add a little water and adjust the consistency if it has become thick after refrigerating.

Before serving it again, give it a fresh ghee tadka of cumin seeds, garlic, asafetida, and a little Kashmiri red chili powder. A fresh tadka will make tadka daal as good as new.

If you want to store the dal tadka longer, you can freeze it. Store the cooled dal in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag. Label the container with the date and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw the dal overnight in the refrigerator and reheat it in a pan or microwave before serving.

If you are freezing the dal tadka, consider storing it in small portions to thaw and reheat only the needed amount.

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Make this delicious Restaurant-Style Yellow Dal Tadka at home in under 30 minutes using simple ingredients. This popular Indian recipe can be made in an instant pot or a traditional stovetop pressure cooker (vegetarian, can be easily made vegan and gluten-free).
4.49 from 41 votes

Restaurant Style Punjabi Yellow Dal Tadka Recipe

Make this delicious Restaurant-Style Yellow Dal Tadka at home in under 30 minutes using simple ingredients. This popular Indian recipe can be made in an instant pot or a traditional pressure cooker.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup yellow pigeon peas (arhar dal, toor dal) (or pink masoor)
  • ¼ cup skinless petite yellow lentils (yellow moong dal)
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onions
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

For Tempering

  • 2 tablespoons ghee (replace with oil for vegan dal)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing) (skip for gluten-free dal)
  • 2-3 whole dry red chilies
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaves)
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Instructions 

Cook The Lentils In An Instant Pot

  • Wash arhar dal and moong dal with water 2 to 3 times until the water runs clear.
  • Soak the lentils in 2-3 cups of water and keep aside.
  • Press SAUTE button of the instant pot.
  • Once it says hot, add oil to the inner pot.
  • Once the oil is hot and shimmery, add onions and cook until they turn light brown (8-10 minutes), stirring frequently.
  • Add ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add green chilies and tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir frequently while cooking.
  • Now add coriander powder, turmeric powder, and Kashmiri red chili powder, and cook for a minute.
  • Drain the water from the lentils and add them to the pot along with 3 cups of water, and salt, and stir well.
  • Close the lid of the pot and set the valve to the sealing position.
  • Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 10 minutes on high pressure. The instant pot will take some time to build the pressure and to start the timer.
  • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Then release the remaining pressure manually by moving the valve to the venting position. Use a cloth or a spoon to move the valve to avoid steam burn. Open the lid of the pot.
  • Add lime juice to the pot and mix the cooked dal well using a wire whisk or a madani until it is smooth and creamy.
  • Add some more water if the dal is thick for your liking and bring it to a boil by pressing the SAUTE button.
  • Check for salt and add more if needed. Set the cooked dal aside.

Cook The Lentils In A Traditional Pressure Cooker

  • Follow the steps until water and salt are added to a pressure cooker over medium-high heat.
  • Close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook for one whistle on high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally.
  • Open the lid of the cooker.
  • Add lime juice to the pot and mix the cooked dal well using a wire whisk or a madani until it is smooth and creamy.
  • Add some more water if the dal is thick for your liking and bring it to a boil.
  • Check for salt and add more if needed. Set the cooked dal aside.

Temper The Dal

  • Once the lentils are cooked, let’s give them a tempering. Heat ghee in a small pan over medium-high heat.
  • Once the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds and asafetida and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
  • Add dry red chilies and garlic and fry until it turns golden brown in color. Stir frequently.
  • Switch off the heat and add Kashmiri red chili powder to the pan.
  • Pour the tempering immediately over the dal and mix well.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.

Notes

Smoky Flavor – The dal tadka that we taste at the dhabas, or restaurants has a very distinct smoky flavor. That is because they are made on a wood fire.
To get a similar smoky flavor at home, you can dhungar your dal once it’s made. To do it, heat a piece of coal (or a whole cinnamon stick) over a direct flame until it is red hot. Keep a steel bowl in the center of the dal.
Keep the hot coal piece in the bowl. Drizzle 1 teaspoon ghee over the coal and immediately close the pan lid. Let the dal absorb the smoke for 10-15 minutes. Open the lid and discard the coal. Pour the leftover ghee into the dal and mix well. Your smoky dal is ready.
You can also cook the lentils in a pot over the stovetop. This method takes a lot of time and is not recommended. But if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can cook them this way. You will have to add more water and cook for a longer time.
This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. I made it in my 3-quart instant pot (or a 3-liter stovetop cooker). If you want to scale it, use a 6-quart instant pot (or a 5-liter pressure cooker). The time of cooking the dal will remain the same.

Nutrition

Calories: 255kcal, Carbohydrates: 33g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Cholesterol: 19mg, Sodium: 65mg, Potassium: 580mg, Fiber: 16g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 225IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 56mg, Iron: 5mg
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Recipe Rating




37 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made the dal with Arhar and Yellow Moong dal combo. I did not put tomato as I dont like it.

    Rest followed the recipe as it is. And the result was a fantastic Dal Tarka preparation.
    Thank you for the recipe.

  2. 4 stars
    Awesome daal!!! I doubled the recipe and added one teaspoon of curry powder! It’s scrumptious! Light in flavor for sure not over bearing. Light enough to be drank like soup.

  3. 5 stars
    Im not Indian and not an especially talented cook and making Indian food myself has always been intimidating and I usually just opt to grab it at the restaurant. I decided to
    Attempt this one myself because it didn’t look too hard and OMGGGGG it came out so good!! I think it was better than what I get at the restaurant. Thank you for this recipe it’s all very well explained. I can’t wait to make it again. I don’t have a pressure cooker so I made the dal the long way on the stove and it turned out well. So delicious!

  4. Very excellent recipe for Dal Tadka and variation .
    I am in Maryland, USA and have seen many books on cooking but
    your recipe is very illustrative step by step.

  5. 4 stars
    In the ingredients you said oil and in the receipe you are saying heat ghee. Which one is correct?