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Diana Chan's Simple Indian Dal Tadka With Roti

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, Melbourne-based cook and MasterChef winner Diana Chan shares her recipe for a warming and surprisingly easy dal tadka.

Derived from the Sanskrit word meaning "to split", dal is a flavour-packed dish and staple in Indian cuisine. There are countless ways to prepare this hearty delight and recipes tend to be regionally specific using either split beans, peas, or lentils.

Diana Chan's delicious recipe for dal tadka calls for ghee and yellow and red split lentils. It also involves the traditional process of tempering spices like garam masala, asafoetida, and cumin to give colour, fragrance, and flavour. This creamy concoction is served with roti for a nourishing meal that's loaded with fibre and protein.

The ultimate comfort food, this vegetarian recipe is easy to make and sure to leave you and your loved ones full and satisfied. 

Serves 4


For the dal:

  • 1 litre of vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 ½ cups yellow split lentils, rinsed 
  • ½ cup red split lentils, rinsed
  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped (optional)
  • ¼ head cauliflower florets (optional)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • Salt to taste

For the tadka:

  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3 sprigs of curry leaves
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 3cm grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds


Heat a large pot on medium heat.

Add the lentils, stock, chillies and the rest of the dal ingredients in and simmer on low for 30 mins. 

Just before the lentils are cooked, heat a separate frying pan on medium heat to make the tadka.

Add the black mustard seeds with the ghee. Allow to pop before adding in the other spices and tempering ingredients. Be careful when adding in the curry leaves as it will spit.

Sauté for a couple of minutes.

Remove from heat and pour the hot tadka into the dal. Stir to combine.

Check for seasoning before serving with some roti.

Shop Diana's look with our Sage tablecloth, Lavender placemats, and Mineral napkins in our Build Your Own Table Bundle.

For more from Diana follow her at 

Photography Becca Crawford, Styling Lee Baylock

Hungry for more? Explore more recipes from our favourite home cooks here.

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