Picture this: the aroma of aromatic spices fills the air as you step into a bustling North Indian kitchen. You get a steaming pile of fragrant rice and spoon on delicious golden arhar dal, topping it with sliced garlic, and aromatic spices that have been slowly simmered in oil.
I can’t adequately describe the heavenly meal you are going to have right outta your home kitchen! I make a thali platter for my family with this killer dal recipe along with my veg. biryani, vegan butter chicken, ridge gourd curry, and flaky fresh parotta. If you are looking for a sattvic version of this recipe, you might want to check out my recipe for sattvic masoor dahl.
This hearty and flavorful dish will make your taste buds dance with joy. Plus, it's so easy to make that even your cat can do it (just kidding, please don't let your cat cook).
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- 🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
- 🇮🇳Want to learn some other classic pure-veg Indian dishes?
- What is Arhar Dal?
- 🧈Other notable ingredients in this recipe
- 🚂Toot Toot Substitutions
- 📖Step-by-step instructions
- Storage and reheating
- ❗️Top tip
- ✌️Other Indian dishes that go great with this:
- ❤️More freaking veggies you are going to love.
- North Indian Arhar Dal Tadka (Toor Dal)
🥰Why you are going to adore the ever-loving heck outta this recipe
👉It's packed with flavor: The combination of lentils and spices in Arhar Dal Tadka creates a deliciously complex and aromatic flavor profile. Your taste buds will be delighted with every bite.
👉It's easy to make: Despite its impressive taste, this recipe is actually quite simple to make. It requires only a handful of ingredients and can be made in just a few easy steps.
👉It's versatile: Arhar Dal Tadka can be enjoyed as a main dish or as a side dish to complement other Indian dishes. Plus, it's easy to customize with your favorite ingredients or spices.
👉It's healthy: Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, and other important nutrients. This recipe is a great way to nourish your body with wholesome, plant-based ingredients. Despite sometimes being referred to as Dal Fry, this recipe requires no frying and only contains a small amount of oil in the tadka, which hasn't been heated excessively.
👉It stores well and freezes well: I like to make a big batch of this dal to portion and freeze so that whenever my family or I are in a rush, we have a nutritious, fast-to-thaw, and reheat meal on hand.
🇮🇳Want to learn some other classic pure-veg Indian dishes?
I taught a whole online cooking class covering my favorite sattvic Indian recipes! The Sattvic Vegan Indian class recording and recipes are all available in my class library.
What is Arhar Dal?
Arhar Dal, is also known as Toor Dal, Tur Dal, or in Telugu- Kandhi Pappu. It is a medium-sized yellow split pigeon pea that is commonly used in Indian cuisine. It is a rich source of protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients. It is low in fat and calories, making it a healthy addition to any diet.
Arhar dal is believed to have originated in India thousands of years ago and has been cultivated and used in Indian cuisine for centuries. It was also an important crop in ancient West Africa, where it was brought by Indian traders and used as a food source.
This recipe follows the common method of soaking and rinsing the dal, cooking it with water, spices, and herbs, and then topping it with a tadka (an aromatic oil that has been simmered with spices and garlic).
The preparation method outlined in this recipe is a staple in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, and others.
🧈Other notable ingredients in this recipe
- Indian green chili: Indian green chilies (also called Hari Mirch) are typically very small, slender, and bright green in color. They are known for their intense heat and flavor, though the heat can vary dramatically from pepper to pepper. If you are averse to spice, go lightly with this chili or leave it out of the preparation altogether.
- Lemon Juice: Arhar Dal is not usually cooked with citrus juice in it, but I really like the subtle flavor boost a small amount of lemon brings out in this dish. I am not necessarily going for what is common when I create a recipe, I am going for what I think is wonderful to eat. So, don’t get mad!
- Whole dried chilies: I really love the Byadgi chilies from Karnataka, probably because I used to spend so much time in and around Mysore. But you can also use whole dried Kashmiri chilies, or even Arbol chilies in this dish.
- Garlic and onion: If you regularly cook from my blog (and I hope ya do ❤️), you know many of the Indian recipes I share are completely sattvic. That being said garlic and onion are commonly used in tadka, which is a technique of tempering spices and aromatics in hot oil and then adding it to a dish. The pungent flavors of garlic and onion add depth and complexity to the dish and enhance the overall flavor profile. If you want to make this recipe completely sattvic, just don't add the onions and garlic to the tadka, and leave the clove of minced garlic out of the dal itself.
- Kashmiri red chili powder: If I could write worthwhile love poems, I would write them to Kashmiri Chili all day. It has a vibrant red color, great heat, and a lovely, mild, almost fruity sweetness.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this page for the complete list of ingredients and their quantities.
🚂Toot Toot Substitutions
Can't get one of these ingredients? Here are some things you can swap ‘em out for without making this dish come out terribly!
➡️Arhar dal (toor dal): If you can’t find pigeon peas, then you can totally make this recipe using split red lentils (masoor dal), yellow split moong dal, or channa dal. Channa dal may require about an extra cup of water, and an additional 15-20 minutes of cooking time to reach a similar consistency.
➡️Indian green chili: you can substitute 1 ¼ teaspoons of minced jalapeño in place of the Indian green chili if it is unavailable to you.
➡️Kashmiri red chili powder: I would say the closest you can get to the right heat level of Kashmiri chili is to use a 50/50 mix of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. It will not have the same remarkable flavor, but the color and heat level should be comparable.
You wanna see how this yummy thing gets made? I will grab you by the hand and walk you through the whole process! Or you can follow along with the easy-to-print recipe card towards the bottom of this page.
Soak the toor dal for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse it. Pick through the dal to remove any pebbles or foreign contaminants.
Put the dal, tomato, green chili, spices, lemon juice, water, cilantro, and salt in a pot or pressure cooker.
For a pressure cooker: cook on high until the pressure builds, put on the stopcock, then reduce to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes. For a pot, cover the pot, boil, and then simmer for 40 minutes.
Prepare the tadka in a separate saucepan, and cook for 10 minutes until fragrant and golden.
Serve the dal topped with the tadka and garnish with cilantro leaves.
I cook this in a dutch oven, but you could also use a pressure cooker to make it. You will also need a saucepan to cook the tadka in, but that’s about it!
Storage and reheating
This preparation stores so well, and is great for meal prep! It does thicken a bunch after it cools, but all you have to do when you reheat it is mix in a little extra water to bring it to your desired consistency.
Whenever I know someone who has just given birth, I like to stock their freezer with portioned containers of this and also my masoor Dahl recipe. Someone did something like that for my family when we had our first daughter, and it made such a big difference to us. I never forgot it. Anyway, here is how to deal with storing and reheating arhar dal:
Let the dal cool to room temperature before storing it. Transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze arhar dal for up to 2-3 months.
Tadka: It's best to store the tadka (tempering) separately from the dal to maintain its texture and flavor. You can spoon the tadka on top of the reheated dal later. Although the tadka stores for 4 days under refrigeration, it is not great when frozen. I mean, it’s edible, but personally, I just don't love the way cooked onions and garlic are after they have been frozen, so do it at your own risk!
If you are planning to freeze the arhar dal, let it cool to room temperature and then transfer it to an airtight container or a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Label the container with the date and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
🔥Reheating on the stovetop:
To reheat the arhar dal, transfer it to a saucepan and add a little bit of water to thin it out if needed. Heat the dal over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is heated through. Spoon the reserved tadka on top of the hot dal before serving.
☢️Reheating in microwave:
To reheat the arhar dal in the microwave, transfer it to a microwave-safe container and add a little bit of water if needed. Cover the container with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap and heat on high for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Stir the dal and spoon the reserved tadka on top before serving.
Some people like dal more like a soup, and some like it thick and mushy. This recipe is somewhere in-between. To make it soupier, just add additional water until the desired constancy is reached. To make it even thicker, just cook it a little longer uncovered so that more of the liquid evaporates out.
Yes, arhar dal is naturally gluten-free and can be a good option for individuals with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. It is primarily made from split pigeon peas which are completely gluten-free. However, asafoetida powder which is a common ingredient in dal sometimes contains wheat starch to prevent clumping. So, carefully check your asafoetida if you need to avoid gluten for health reasons.
Arhar dal is often vegan, but sometimes it is prepared with ghee, which is clarified butter. If you follow a strictly plant-based diet, check that arhar dal has been prepared with oil instead of ghee and has not been cooked with any animal-based ingredients such as yogurt.
✌️Other Indian dishes that go great with this:
These are some of my favey dishes to serve with this:
❤️More freaking veggies you are going to love.
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❤️Love this recipe? It helps me out greatly if you leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟rating in the recipe card below and maybe even leave me a lovey-dovey comment too!Print
North Indian Arhar Dal Tadka (Toor Dal)
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 3 ½ - 4 cups 1x
- Diet: Vegan
A warm and comforting bowl of aromatic North Indian Arhar Dal Tadka, featuring tender and creamy toor dal simmered with simple classic Indian broth, infused with a blend of fragrant spices, and topped with a sizzling golden garlic and cumin-infused tadka.
Arhar dal ingredients
1 Cup toor dal
1 medium tomato, diced
1 green chili chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole dried chilies, such as Byadgi, Kashmiri, or Arbol
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups water, or unsalted vegetable broth
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
Ingredients for the tadka
¼ cup canola oil, vegetable oil, or other neutral-tasting cooking oil
½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon asafoetida
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 whole dried red chilies, or to taste
⅓ cup finely diced onion
½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
¼ teaspoon salt
fresh cilantro leaves
- Soak the toor dal for 20 minutes.
- Drain and rinse it under cold running water.
- Pick through the dal to ensure it has no pebbles or foreign contaminants hidden amongst it.
- Place all of the toor dal, tomato, green chili, turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, dried chilies, lemon juice, water (or broth), cilantro, and salt into a pot or pressure cooker.
- If using a pressure cooker, close the lid of the pressure cooker and cook the dal over high heat until the pressure builds up and the steam starts to escape from the vent. Put on the stopcock, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes until the dal is soft and cooked through. Turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
- If using a pot, bring the contents of the pot up to a boil over a high flame. Cover the pot and cook the dal on a low flame for 40 minutes until soft and cooked through.
- If you want a soupier consistency, mix in a little additional water.
- While the dal cooks, prepare the tadka by heating the oil in a separate saucepan over a medium flame. After 90 seconds when the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, coriander, and cumin seeds.
- After 30 seconds, when the mustard seeds are rapidly popping, stir in the remaining ingredients and lower the flame to a simmer. Cook the tadka for 10 minutes until the onions are fragrant and lightly golden.
- To serve the arhar dal, place it into an attractive serving dish, and top it with the tadka. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.
Add extra water if you would like your dal soupier, or cook a little longer uncovered if you would like your dal thicker. Make it how YOU love it!
- Prep Time: 10
- Cook Time: 40
- Category: Dal
- Method: Tadka
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: Arhar Dal
Easy to put together for a delicious meal , the Tadka topping was perfect!
This recipe is BURSTING with flavor, so spicy and delicious. I had to use Masoor Dal (one of the recommended suggestions) as I didn't have any Toor Dal on hand. I served it over the base rice from Adam's vegan biryani recipe. I will definitely make this again!
This recipe was so easy to make and was delicious. My non vegan daughter loved it!
Made this for the family and it was incredibly tasty. The tadka added a crunchy, savory flavor and texture that really bumped it up! Thanks Adam!
This was so easy and so delicious. I really enjoyed making it. It tastes especially good the next day. I will be making this again.