Tarka Daal Recipe

tarka daal

I went through a phase of buying the M&S tarka daal weekly, when I was home alone and couldn’t be bothered to cook for one. This was obviously well before my slimming world journey started and let me tell you, as an Indian person.. that is a huge compliment to M&S!

I’ve never been one for ready meals, but this was so damn good! So warm and comforting in the colder months too. I haven’t bought it in years and to be honest, I dread to think how many syns it contains.. so here is my home made, syn free version.

I use chana daal as my lentil of choice, but tarka daal can be made with a whole variety of other lentils. A popular choice is red split lentils or masoor dal. Essentially, the name tarka daal just means cooked lentils with the spice mix (tarka) thrown over the top and mixed through it.

Of course, traditionally, butter and or cream would be added into this mix too, but aside from just the thought of that making me feel a bit ill, I’ve omitted that for obvious reasons.

I apologise in advance, because again, this is another one of those recipes that I eyeball. I don’t measure anything and add all of my spices to taste. I also use a pressure cooker to make this tarka daal recipe, in my Ninja multicooker as it takes virtually no time at all. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, this can be made on the hob – this is what I used to do, but from memory, it can take around 3 hours to make so just be mindful of that.

tarka daal

Tarka Daal Ingredients

  • Chana Dal (approx 125g per person, but I eyeball everything)
  • Ground Coriander
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves
  • Cumin seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Green Chillies (I used 3)
  • Ginger (thumb sized piece, grated)
  • Garlic (3 – 4 cloves)
  • Onions (I used 2)
  • Tomatoes (either 3 fresh or half a tin of chopped tomatoes)
  • Frozen spinach (optional)
  • Salt


1️⃣ Rinse lentils in water, once cleaned, place the lentils and turmeric in a pan (or pressure cooker) and fill with boiling water. I also added a few cubes of frozen spinach to mine for some added speed food. The lentils do take a a few hours to cook in a pan, or around 15 minutes on high in the pressure cooker.

2️⃣ In a separate pan, add some oil and add in the cumin seeds (around a heaped teaspoon). Once these have cooked through add in your finely sliced onion, ginger, garlic and green chillies and after a few minutes, once softened, the ground coriander and salt.

3️⃣ If you’re using fresh tomatoes, you can blend the tomatoes and garlic. I prefer using the Mutti Polpa finely chopped tomatoes as they taste 1000 times nicer and there are no large chunks. So I add mine straight to the pan. Add either your blended mix or tinned tomatoes back to the pan with the spices and cook through.

4️⃣ Check that the lentils are cooked and to the consistency you like them – as they cook, feel free to add more water if the lentils have absorbed too much. Some people prefer their daal to be runnier, whereas I prefer mine slightly thicker.

5️⃣ Add the spice mix to the lentils, stir through and garnish with fresh coriander.

6️⃣ Serve with rice and salad – or naan/rotli if you prefer. Just be sure to syn those as appropriate and enjoy! I also add a dollop of soya yogurt to mine to make it creamy.

Find more Slimming World vegetarian recipes below:

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