Chana dal

Chana dal has become a favourite go-to dish of mine, even before I made the change to go vegan. Preeti Sinha over at Veg Recipes of India made it so simple with her step-by-step recipe which I’ve been known to eat for dinner alongside a serving of rice, naan bread or side salad, or rolled up in a wrap or between flatbread and toasted on a sandwich press for a warming lunch. In my vegetarian days, I’d be seen dolloping some Greek yoghurt and fresh coriander on top too. A truly versatile, delightfully tasty dish.

Chana dal; Photo: Veg Recipes of India


For pressure cooking the chana dal:

  • ¾ cup chana dal
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

For tempering the chana dal:

  • 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 4 to 5 garlic
  • 1 green chili
  • ¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry mango powder
  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi (or dried fenugreek leaves)
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • salt as required
  • a few coriander leaves (cilantro) for mixing towards the end or garnishing


  1. Pick and rinse the chana dal well in running water. soak the dal in enough water for an hour.
  2. Drain the lentils and add them to the pressure cooker along with turmeric powder. add 2.5 to 3 cups water and stir well.
  3. On a high flame, pressure cook the lentils for 7 to 8 whistles or more, till the dal is softened and well cooked. keep the cooked chana dal aside.
  4. In another pan, heat oil or ghee.
  5. Add the cumin first and fry for a few seconds till they splutter.
  6. Add the garlic and fry till they become light brown.
  7. Add the onions and fry till they get golden.
  8. Add the tomatoes, ginger and green chili.
  9. Stir and add all the dry spice powders ­ turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder, asafoetida, dry mango powder and coriander powder.
  10. Saute till the tomatoes get cooked and the oil starts to leave the side of the mixture.
  11. Add the kasoori methi and stir.
  12. Pour the cooked chana dal along with its stock to the sauteed masala mixture or vice versa.
  13. Season with salt.
  14. Stir and simmer the dal for 6­-8 minutes till you get medium consistency of the dal, neither thick nor thin.
  15. Garnish chana dal with chopped coriander leaves.
  16. Serve the chana dal hot with some basmati rice, rotis or bread.

Recipe Notes

  1. The consistency of the chana dal can be easily adjusted. If the dal becomes thick, then after adding the sauteed masala tempering mixture, add some water and simmer for a few minutes. If the dal become thin, simmer for a longer time so that you get the right consistency.
  2. To make the chana dal gluten free, omit adding the asafoetida/hing.
  3. For cooking the chana dal in a pot, first soak the lentils for an hour. Then pour 4 cups of water along with the drained lentils into a pot. Add turmeric powder. Cover and cook the lentils for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till they are softened. Add more water if required. If the mixure froths, then cook uncovered initially and then later cover and cook. A few drops of oil can also be added to reduce the frothing.

Makes: 4 | Prep: 15-135mins | Cooks: 15mins


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