Over the last few weeks I’ve had an incredible craving for lentils. Creamy red, yellow or green lentil recipes always remind me of the hearty broths I used to have growing up: mixtures with the consistency of porridge – largely due to the amount of pearl barley and vegetables – and a great all round flavour.
Combining this craving with my love of India (and Indian food) can result in only one outcome: creating the perfect Tarka Dal recipe.
The recipe below is simple and can be done in two stages: the lentils are cooked in turmeric-infused water and left to rest while preparing the seasoned spice mixture or “tarka” as it is known in Indian and Pakistani cuisine.
- 250g yellow dried split peas
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 2cm/¾in piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
- ¾ tsp ground turmeric
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- chopped fresh coriander leaves
- 1 Scottish oatcake (optional)
- Bring the lentils to the boil in a pan with enough cold water to cover them two inches over the top. Stir in the turmeric and leave to simmer for 40 minutes (whilst skimming off the scum that rises to the surface every so often) until the water has been absorbed.
- In a small frying pan, dry-fry the cumin and coriander seeds over a medium heat.
- Remove the seeds from the pan and grind into a powder.
- Heat the vegetable oil in the same frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the chopped garlic, with the chili flakes and the ginger.
- Fry for 1 minute.
- Once the garlic is golden, mix in the ground cumin and coriander. Add some water as necessary to loosen the mixture.
- Give the lentils a stir.
- Add more water as necessary before finally mixing in your aromatic fried ‘Tarka’ mixture.
- Season to taste, then serve topped with coriander and an oatcake on the side.