Tarka Dhall with blackened cumin seeds

This recipe was given to me by a colleague and actually first ate this delicious dhall for breakfast one day at work where it had been brought in for me to try for lunch but it smelt so amazing I had to have it at 7am in the morning.

It tastes great with rice, chapattis, wraps, naan… whatever you have around really. I probably have it cold with a straw it’s so good.


300g lentils (I used red lentils and a mix of yellow moong dhall and red works well, so do green ones)

2 heaped teaspoons of ground turmeric (haldi)

1 heaped teaspoon of garam masala (either shop bought or make your own from equal parts ground cumin, coriander and black pepper)

2 teaspoons of garlic paste

1 teaspoon of ginger paste

1 teaspoon of chilli powder

2 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of ghee (or vegetable ghee for a vegan alternative – both work equally well)

2 teaspoons of whole cumin seeds

4 cloves of garlic


Rinse your lentils in a colander then put them in a pan. Add boiling water so that the lentils are covered by about 1cm of water.DSCN2052

Add to the pan the turmeric, garam massala, garlic paste and ginger paste, chilli and salt. Simmer the pan on a medium heat, occasionally stirring for approximately 15 mins (depending on the type of lentil you are using).


DSCN2062To make your tarka in a separate pan melt the ghee. Add to this pan the whole cumin seeds, and once they start to colour, add 4 cloves of freshly crushed garlic. This will start to brown quickly, as soon as it starts to get colour take it off the heat. This will be in approximately 20 seconds. Take it off the heat and add straight to the pan of lentils which have been simmering. Be careful as this will spit.

Stir and allow for the mixture to reduce slightly for about 3-4 mins.

Serve with rice, or warmed indian breads.


This recipe freezes well once cooled, and can also be reheated well.