Tarka daal with homemade chapati is one of those dishes I could eat at any time of the day (even breakfast, without much provocation to be honest). It is a simple yet amazing meal in many ways. It is good for you and easy to make. What’s not to like?
There is an expression that says ‘ always the bridesmaid but never the bride’. This seems like an accurate assessment of how tarka daal is perceived and I feel this is a totally unjust state of affairs. It is usually ordered as a side dish to accompany a meat dish or other main course and yet I can’t get my head round how this came to be. I feel that this is just simply poor treatment for a healthy and beautiful piece of Asian cuisine. I believe it is good enough to be the main course in a meal and when it is served with homemade chapati it is as filling as it is delicious.
There are beautifully deep flavours from the pan fried garlic and the browned onions. There is a heady mixture of delicately combined spices. You can even give it a citrusy lift with a squeeze of lemon juice to take it to another level of complexity.
I urge you to embrace the wonderful curry that is the tarka daal and give it your full attention.
Here is how to make this little beauty.
Tarka Daal With Homemade Chapati Ingredients
For the Tarka Daal
- 200g red lentils
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 sliced onion (fry it until it is crispy)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric)
- 12 dried curry leaves
- 4 cloves garlic (more if you want)
- green chillies to garnish
- salt and pepper to season
For the Chapati
- 200 g chapati flour (and some for dusting)
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- salt to taste
- water to make the mixture bind
Tarka Daal With Homemade Chapati Method
For the Tarka Daal
Rinse the lentils and drain them well then cover them with water and cook on a medium heat for about half an hour (or until they are soft). You will need to fry your onions next and then remove them and place them onto a kitchen towel.
Then, melt your ghee and add the cinnamon stick, curry leaves and cumin seeds. Let the flavours infuse into the ghee for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic and the remaining spices taking care not to burn the garlic as it will become bitter.
Then stir through the onions that you set aside and combine well into the spice mixture.
Finally, simply combine the ingredients into the daal and give a good stir. Adjust the seasoning and you can leave it on the stove top on the lowest heat while you make your fresh chapati.
For the Chapati
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl to form a firm dough. You can then quarter it and roll it into balls.
Flour a work surface and roll the balls as thinly as you can using a rolling pin. I like to roll then flip and repeat this process until I have the right thickness and shape.
Once you have something that looks like a chapati, transfer it onto a flat cooking surface. A non stick frying pan is perfect. Make sure the heat isn’t too high and keep turning the chapati over every 30 seconds or so. It is ready when you can see raised brown air pockets on the surface of both sides of the chapati.
You can use a fork to press down on the surface of the chapati if you wish. This will allow the air inside the bread to puff up the chapati.
I keep mine warm in a really low oven wrapped in foil if I still have other tasks to complete, otherwise get them whacked on the table. You can now serve the daal with the chapati and get stuck into what is a deep flavoured and satisfying meal. Don’t forget to sprinkle fresh green chillies on top of the dish and squeeze some lemon if you fancy. A little coriander never goes a miss either.