Pic of Spring green tarka dhal

Spring green tarka dhal

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Spring green tarka dhal

Main Serves 4 1h
The comforting silkiness of the lentils contrast beautifully with fresh spices and sharp herbs in this Indian dish. Experiment as much as you like with the spices – this recipe is endlessly versatile. Serve with plain rice or flatbread.



  • 250g split red lentils
  • 1 litre boiling water
  • oil for frying, e.g. vegetable or sunflower
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes (or use a few chopped fresh ones)
  • 300g spring greens, tough stalks removed, leaves finely shredded
  • handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped

for the tarka

  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped or sliced
  • ¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds


Prep time: 10 min
Cooking time: 50 min


  • Step 1

    Put the lentils in a large bowl, pour over the water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Step 2

    Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a large pan and add the onion. Fry gently for 8 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  • Step 3

    Add the ginger, turmeric and chillies. Cook for another couple of minutes and add the tinned tomatoes, the lentils and their soaking liquid (skim off any scum before adding).
  • Step 4

    Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are cooked through and soft. Using a potato masher, very lightly mash the lentils, leaving some still intact.
  • Step 5

    In another pan, add a tablespoon of oil and the shredded spring greens. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the greens have wilted, then remove from the pan and add them to the lentil mixture.

For the tarka

  • Step 1

    In the same pan as you cooked the greens in, add a tablespoon of oil. Add the mustard seeds, garlic, chilli and cumin.
  • Step 2

    Fry, stirring constantly, for a minute or two, until the mustard seeds are popping.
  • Step 3

    Add the chopped fresh coriander to the lentil mixture (if using). Split the lentils between four serving bowls and pour over the tarka mixture to serve.

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