Chana dal khichdi is a simple and flavorful traditional variant of khichdi from the Punjabi Cuisine. This chana dal khichdi is made with a handful of ingredients – basmati rice, bengal gram (chana dal) and spices. Make this delicious and healthy khichdi for an quick and comforting meal with a side of raita or yogurt.
This chana dal khichdi is unlike the other Indian khichdi varieties which have a thin or medium porridge-like consistency. By the way, Khichdi is a term used for one-pot dishes that are made with cereals, lentils and vegetables.
In this recipe, the rice grains as well as chana dal lentils are separate and this gives the khichdi a pulav like texture. This is the specialty of this recipe.
This is such a simple recipe and uses just two spice ingredients besides the rice and chana dal aka bengal gram. These two spices are also in minimal amounts so that the nutty flavor and taste of the chana dal comes through very well in the recipe.
It tastes best when served hot and made in an odourless neutral vegetable oil. Avoid making in ghee as the ghee subdues the flavors of the dal. Also you can use basmati rice or broken basmati rice. Even regular broken rice or Tukda chawal as we call in Hindi can be used.
Pair it with some yogurt or raita and you have a satisfying meal. You do need a pressure cooker to make this one. You can make it in a pot too, but the water proportions would vary then.
This is a family recipe and I have learnt it from my mother in law. This is again one of her fabulous recipe and I am sure you will love it as much as we do. The recipe is shared with both step by step pics and a video.
I would not suggest making this khichdi in bulk and refrigerate. Firstly the khichdi becomes dry as it cools and when you reheat it you don’t get the best flavor and taste. So this chana dal khichdi is best made fresh and served hot or warm.
How to make Chana Dal Khichdi
1. Rinse ½ cup chana dal a couple of times in fresh water. Then soak overnight at room temperature or for 4 to 5 hours or in hot water for 30 minutes. Here in the below photo, I have soaked the dal in hot water for 30 minutes.
Ensure that chana dal is fresh and in its shelf life. Don’t use aged chana dal. Since chana dal is the star ingredient in this dish. So for best taste and texture use fresh and good quality chana dal. I prefer using unpolish chana dal.
2. Also rinse ½ cup of rice in fresh water a couple of times. Then in a bowl soak the rice for 30 minutes.
3. After 30 minutes of soaking in hot water, drain all the water from the chana dal and keep it aside.
4. Heat oil in the stovetop pressure cooker. Lower the heat. Then add the following ingredients:
- 1 to 2 pinch of red chili powder
- 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- salt as required
To make it gluten-free skip asafoetida or use gluten-free asafoetida. I suggest adding asafoetida as it aids in digestion and brings a nice flavor.
5. Quickly stir and fry for a couple of seconds.
6. Add the drained chana dal.
7. Stir the chana dal with the rest of the spices.
8. Add 1 cup water and stir again.
9. Pressure cook for 1 to 2 whistles or about 6 minutes. You can also cook the dal for 1 whistle and then check. If not cooked then cook for 1 more whistle.
Remember the dal should not be mushy. Once the pressure settles down on its own, then only remove the lid of the pressure cooker. The chana dal should be cooked and also each chana dal should be separate as visible in the below photo.
10. Drain all the water from the rice.
11. Add the rice to the cooked chana dal in the pressure cooker.
12. Stir and mix gently.
13. There will be water in the cooker along with the cooked dal, so no need to add extra water, if using basmati rice. Since I was using hand pounded rice and these rice grains require more time and water to cook, I added ¼ cup more water.
14. Again pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles. The dal would cook furthermore along with the rice. Again since I was using hand pounded rice, I pressure cooked for 3 whistles.
15. Once the pressure settles down on its own, then only remove the lid. The specialty of this chana dal khichdi is the separate grains of rice and dal and it is not mushy nor pasty.
If the rice grains are not cooked, then you can add ⅛ cup to ¼ cup water and pressure cook again for 1 to 2 whistles.
16. Serve the Punjabi chana dal khichdi hot with yogurt (curd) or raita or mango pickle or lemon pickle. Personally, I always like to have this khichdi with plain curd.
Onion raita or onion tomato raita will also go well. The flavor and crunch of raw onions will pair greatly with the nutty flavor of chana dal.
Remember to have this chana dal khichdi hot or warm. Once it cools down it tastes dry and you don’t get the best flavor and taste. So make a batch that you can finish easily and don’t keep any leftover.
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Chana Dal Khichdi
- ½ cup basmati rice or broken basmati or regular rice
- ½ cup chana dal (spilt-skinned bengal gram)
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- 1 to 2 pinch red chili powder
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon oil
- salt as required
Soaking chana dal
- First rinse chana dal in fresh water a couple of times. Then soak the chana dal overnight at room temperature or for 4 to 5 hours or soak for 30 minutes in hot water. Also rinse and soak the rice for 30 minutes. Later, strain the chana dal of the water and keep aside.
Cooking chana dal
- Heat oil in the stovetop pressure cooker. Lower the heat. Add the red chili powder, asafoetida and salt as required.
- Stir and fry for a few seconds. Add the chana dal. Stir and then add 1 cup water.
- Cover the pressure cooker with its lid and pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles or for about 6 minutes. Once the pressure settles down on its own, then only open the lid of the cooker.
- The dal should be cooked and also should be separate.
- You can also cook the dal for 1 whistle and then check. If not cooked then cook for 1 more whistle. Remember the dal should not be mushy.
Making chana dal khichdi
- Drain all the water from the rice and add the rice to the cooked dal in the pressure cooker.
- There will be water in the cooker along with the cooked dal, so no need to add extra water.
- Stir and again pressure cook for 1 or 2 whistles. The dal would cook further more along with the rice.
- Once the pressure settles down on its own, then only remove the lid.
- The specialty of this khichdi is the separate grains of rice and dal and it is not mushy nor pasty. If the rice is not cooked, then you can add about ⅛ to ¼ cup water and pressure cook again for a whistle or two.
- Serve the punjabi chana dal khichdi steaming hot with yogurt or raita variety like onion raita or onion tomato raita. You can also serve lemon pickle or mango pickle with it.
- This khichdi tastes best when it is eaten hot. It does not taste so good when it cools down. That's why I won't suggest to pack it for lunch box or tiffin box as this khichdi becomes dry as it cools.
- Use fresh chana dal for best taste and texture. Don’t use aged chana dal. The chana dal should be in its shelf period.
- You can make it in a pot also adding water as required. But it will take more time to cook. I always make this dish in the stovetop pressure cooker.
- The recipe can be doubled or tripled.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Chana Dal Khichdi post from the archives (June 2013) has been updated and republished on 17 October 2021.