Indian Essentials: What is the Difference Between Dal Fry and Tadka Dal?

Dal Fry and Dal Tadka (or Tadka Dal) are two popular North Indian dishes, often also served in restaurants. In India they are also popular dishes in roadside hotels and cafes.

Although many writers insist that the two dishes are the same, there is a difference in the cooking method and this leads to different flavours.

Dal Tadka

Dal Tadka cooks its lentils with tomatoes, some onions and spices. Generally Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Peas) is used. When the dal is cooked until disintegrating and mushy, a tadka, or spice tempering, of mustard seeds, cumin seeds and chillies with ghee is poured over the top and mixed through.

Try our Dal Tadka to experience these flavours.

Dal Fry

Dal Fry, although using similar ingredients, has a different taste. The dal is again generally Toor Dal, but Mung Dal, Channa Dal or even Masoor Dal can be used. This is cooked until disintegrating and mushy. Meanwhile, a tadka of spices is made in a kadhai or Indian Wok, and the tomatoes and onions are added to the spices and sautéed until well cooked. This delicious mixture is added to the dal, mixed through and further simmered to incorporate the flavours.

Dal Tadka

Serve with…

Both dishes can be served with Rice, Phulka, Chappait or Paratha. Add Kachumber and Raita, Pickle or plain yoghurt.


Now you know the difference, why not try both dishes? Our Dal Tadka is here.

Are you looking for more Dal recipes? Try AamtiMung Dal, and Urad Dal with Tomatoes. Or you can browse all of our Dal recipes.

Our Indian Essentials are here – you can browse tips and hints for cooking Indian Food. Unravelling Indian Food is also helpful. Or simply explore all of our Indian Recipes.