Tarka daal is one of those great dishes whose flavour belies the simplicity of its ingredients, and a great comfort food dish that satisfies like no other. Channa daal are hulled split chick peas, a good source of tasty protein. The 'tarka' is the addition of fried aromatics to give a burst of flavour once the daal has been cooked.
This is a very simple recipe I devised for my friend Tatia.
2 cups dry channa daal (or yellow split peas)
Plenty of water
3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
3 shallots or a small onion finely sliced
3 tablespoons of cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon of whole cumin (jeera)
1 finely chopped fresh green chilli
Salt to taste
Wash the daal and rinse it, cover with at leat 2cm of water and bring to a boil. Boil the daal on high heat for 2 minutes then simmer until it is soft, stirring and adding more water as necessary. The daal will thicken naturally as it cooks, so adjust the water until you have the right consistency. I like mine quite runny. Once ready, remove from the heat and cover.
Heat the oil until it is hot then add the garlic, shallots, cumin and chilli and stir. Take care not to burn the garlic or it will taste bitter. Once the onion is cooked, stir the whole lot into the pan of daal and mix well. Adjust for taste with salt and serve.
I like to serve daal with roti bread or plain steamed rice.