Chana dal recipe – Delicious, spicy, healthy & protein-packed dish made with skinned split chickpeas, spices, onions and tomatoes. In India, we eat lentils regularly. Our everyday meal consists of a lentil dish and most often it is in the form of a curry. There are so many kinds of lentils we use and chana dal happens to be one of them.
It is used to make a dal curry, halwa, kheer, vada, pulao, masala powders etc. Chana dal is even used in curries along with vegetables like lauki, brinjal etc. In South India it is used to make a chutney and tempering as it adds an aroma.
In most households, one of the most common preparation is to make a simple dal dish to serve with rice. This chana dal is good to serve with hot steamed rice, Ghee rice, Jeera rice, chapati, bhakri or roti along with some fresh veggie salad.
It is also eaten with pakwan, a fried bread. Dal pakwan is a popular Sindhi food where prepared chana dal topped with tamarind chutney, green chutney, some onions and coriander leaves is served with pakwan.
What is chana dal?
Chana dal also known as Bengal gram is the skinned split version of whole brown chickpeas. Also known as kala chana, these brown/black chickpeas are the desi variety & are smaller in size than the white chickpeas, kabuli chana.
In India, we use the whole brown chickpeas as well the split & skinned version of the same. I have shared the recipe of the whole brown chickpeas here – kala chana recipe.
Chana dal is protein packed and nutrient rich. It includes zinc, folate and calcium. Chana dal is one of those lentils that has a very low glycemic index and is suitable even to those with diabetics. The high fiber content is also said to reduce the bad cholesterol.
Preparation for chana dal
1. Wash half cup chana dal well a few times. Soak it for 1 to 4 hours depending on your convenience.
2. Drain the water and add the chana dal to the pressure cooker. Then pour 1¼ cup water.
3. Pressure cook for 3 to 5 whistles depending on the size and brand of the cooker. You can also keep the dal in a bowl and pour water. Cover it and keep inside the cooker. Cook for 5 whistles. If you do not have a cooker, then just boil in a pot pouring more water as needed.
4. Chana dal must be fully cooked but not turn mushy. It must be grainy.
How to make chana dal recipe
5. Add ghee or oil to a kadai. When it is hot add cumin and allow to sizzle.
6. Then add broken red chilies and fry for 30 seconds. Quickly add hing.
7. Next add onions and fry until golden.
8. Add ginger and saute just until the raw smell goes away.
9. Transfer chopped tomatoes, turmeric and salt.
10. Saute well until the tomatoes turn mushy. Then add red chili powder and garam masala.
11. Again fry this for a few mins till the raw smell goes away.
12. Next transfer the cooked dal along with the stock in cooker.
13. Mash gently and cook for a few minutes until the dal turns thick. Add kasuri mathi and amchur.
14. Cook further for 1 to 2 mins. Sprinkle coriander leaves.
Serve chana dal with plain rice, paratha or roti.
Tips to make chana dal
Onions: I have used a small onion. You can skip that. There would be no change in the taste as such.
Tomatoes: You can either use chopped tomatoes or pureed tomatoes as per your convenience. In most of our foods, I usually puree the tomatoes and use since the skin of the tomatoes don’t go well with my kids.
Spices: I keep the usage of spices and spice powders to the minimum in dal recipes as I prefer the flavor of dal than the spices. However more whole spices can be used in the tempering like bay leaf and a small cinnamon stick.
Soaking: To avoid stomach upset and bloating in toddlers & kids, it is always good to soak chana dal for at least 4 to 6 hours and then use in this chana dal recipe.
However soaking for at least 30 mins to 1 hour in hot water is crucial to cook the lentils fast.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup chana dal (bengal gram)
- 1¼ cup water (1½ cups for pot)
- 2 tablespoon ghee or oil or butter
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon cumin (jeera)
- ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida (hing) (optional)
- 1 small onion (about 4 tbsps chopped)
- 1 green chili chopped (skip if making for kids)
- ½ inch ginger crushed or ½ tsp paste (or 1 garlic chopped)
- 1 medium tomato chopped finely (or ¼ cup tomato puree)
- 1 red chili broken (less spicy variety)
- ½ teaspoon Salt or as per taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ to ¾ teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ to ½ cup water (use as needed to bring to consistency)
- ¼ teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) (optional)
For garnish & serving
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves or cilantro chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice or ¼ tsp dried mango powder (amchur powder)
- Add chana dal to a pot or cooker. Rinse a few times until water runs clear. Soak it in regular water for 1 to 4 hours as per your convenience.
- Later drain the water and pour 1¼ cups fresh water. If cooking in a pot pour 1½ cups water.
- Cook chana dal on a medium heat until soft and completely done. Dal must hold shape, yet get mashed well if you mash it .
- If using pressure cooker you may need to cook it any where for 3 to 5 whistles depending on the brand of cooker. When the pressure releases, open the lid.
Tempering chana dal
- Heat ghee or oil in a pan. Add cumin and red chili. Saute until cumin begins to splutter.
- Add hing, green chilies and onions. Saute very well until the onions turn lightly golden.
- Next ginger or ginger garlic paste. Saute for 30 to 60 seconds until it turns aromatic.
- Add tomatoes, salt and turmeric. Saute and cook until the tomatoes turn soft.
- Next add chili powder and garam masala.
- Saute for 1 to 2 mins. Make sure raw smell of all the ingredients has gone completely & the masala smells good.
- Add chana dal along with the left over stock or water in the pot/ cooker.
- Mix everything well and if needed add little water to bring it to a consistency you like.
- Lightly mash the dal with the spatula to get a thick consistency. Cook until the chana dal begins to bubble well. Do not overcook.
- Add crushed kasuri methi and amchur powder (optional).
- Stir and turn off the stove. Add some coriander leaves & squeeze in some lemon juice.
- Transfer chana dal to a serving bowl. Serve with rice, ghee, papad or a veg salad.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes