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Try a Tarka Dhal

Try a Tarka Dhal

Lentils are to Indians like pasta is to Italians, very important to say the least. Not only do they form a large part of the protein intake for many vegetarians, they also feature on almost every Indian table, often more than once a day. There is an amazing variety of dhals and lentil dishes eaten in homes all across India.

For vegetarians, lentils are a valuable source of complex protein and, when combined with some grains and cereals like rice or chapatis, the protein content can be as high as, or even higher than, a steak dinner.

In India, there is a different lentil dish for every region, occasion and even time of day. There are even dhals which are specific to each household. In the North, there are the rich and earthy Tarka Dhals tempered with chillies and spices. In the South, dhals are delicate and sometimes a little sweet, following the addition of tamarind and coconut. Then there is the breakfast dhal like the tangy Sambhar served with Dosai (rice and lentil pancakes) or Idli (rice flour dumplings). There are also broth-like dhals which are served with every meal, like the spicy Rasam (pepper water), which is light, refreshing and a good aid for digestion. There are also many curries that contain lentils, the most famous of which is probably the Dhansak. This is a thick, sour dish with mashed vegetables, meat and lentils - a great one pot meal.

Indian food is all about variety and dhals give a great contrast to other rich Indian dishes. There really is no end to how many different ways there are to cook the humble lentil. Vegetarian or not, they really are an essential part of any Indian meal.

Our signature lentil dish, the Tarka Dhal, is a typical South Indian dhal using Rafi's own spice blend and mixture of four different lentils. This recipe hasn’t changed much over the years. It was pretty much just right from the beginning! Perfect with any of our curries or just on its own with Naan or Chapatis. Well worth a try.