Chana Dal (Split Chickpeas)

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Chana Dal or chana dal fry recipe is a delicious recipe of spiced dal curry that I make often with chana dal (split chickpea or bengal gram). A low fat, gluten-free (don’t add asafoetida) and vegan dish.

chana dal recipe

Chana dal is high in fiber, a rich source of protein and also a good option for people who are on a low carb or diabetic-friendly diet.

Chana dal is also known as bengal gram or split chickpeas. These lentils have a sweet and nutty taste. Chana dal comes from black chickpeas (kala chana). They are split and the outer husk is removed. These lentils are also powdered to give besan or gram flour.

chana dal lentils, bengal gram

The flavors & taste of this Chana dal fry is North Indian and the preparation is like the way we make in Punjabi households.

Chana dal is a favorite at home and I make some more delish Indian recipes with these lentils like:

But most of the times I make this simple chana dal fry. The chana dal is best served with steamed basmati rice or jeera rice and a side raita, kachumber (salad) or a vegetable dish. You could also serve it with rotis or naan along with cucumber raita and some papads.

For faster cooking of the chana dal, it is best to soak them in water for an hour. You can cook the dal in a pressure cooker or in a pan. The chana dal should be cooked soft, so that these lentils are easy to digest.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Chana Dal

With my step-by-step guide learn to make this healthy and tasty chana dal easily!
In this guide, I have shown the method of cooking the lentils in a stove-top pressure cooker.

You could easily cook these lentils in a pan. I have mentioned the details in the recipe card below.

Cooking lentils

1. Pick and rinse 1 cup chana dal in running water for a couple of times. Drain the water.

chana dal, bengal gram

2. Soak the chana dal in enough water for an hour. If you have less time than soak the lentils in hot water for about 30 minutes.

rinse chana dal

3. Later drain the water.

soaked chana dal for chana dal recipe

4. Add chana dal in a 3 litre pressure cooker. Also add ¼ teaspoon add turmeric powder. For cooking the lentils in a pot or pan, kindly check the notes section of the recipe card below.

cooking chana dal for chana dal recipe

5. Add about 2.5 to 3 cups water.

cooking chana dal for making chana dal recipe

6. Pressure cook the chana dal for about 10 to 11 minutes or 7 to 8 whistles on a medium-high to high heat, till they are softened and well cooked.

cooking chana dal for making chana dal recipe

7. When the pressure settles down on its own, remove the lid. Check whether the chana dal is cooked well or not. The below photo shows the cooked chana dal. Cover and keep the cooked lentils aside.

cooked chana dal for preparing chanda dal recipe

Making Chana Dal

8. Heat 3 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan. Add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds first and fry for a few seconds till they splutter.

oil for making chana dal recipe

9. Add 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic. About 4 to 5 garlic cloves which have been finely chopped.

sauting onions for chana dal fry recipe

10. Fry until the garlic is light golden.

making chana dal fry recipe

11. Now add ½ cup chopped onions.

onions for chana dal fry recipe

12. Stir and sauté the onions.

frying onions for chana dal recipe

13. Sauté onions until they become golden.

making chana dal recipe

14. Now add 1 cup chopped tomatoes. About 2 medium tomatoes, chopped.

tomatoes for chana dal recipe

15. Add ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger and ½ teaspoon finely chopped green chilies.

add ginger for chana dal recipe

16. Mix well.

stir chana dal fry masala

17. Then add all the dry spice powders – ½ teaspoon red chili powder, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon garam masala powder, ½ teaspoon dry mango powder, a pinch of asafoetida (hing) and 1 teaspoon coriander powder.

spices for chana dal recipe

18. Mix very well and continue to sauté.

making chana dal recipe

19. Sauté till the tomatoes are softened and the fat starts to leave the side of the masala mixture.

sauting - chana dal recipe

20. Add the crushed kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) – 1 teaspoon kasuri methi which has been crushed.

making chana dal recipe

21. Mix and stir again.

frying - chana dal recipe

22. Pour the cooked chana dal along with its stock to the sauteed mixture. You can also add the sautéed masala mixture to the cooked dal.

tempering - chana dal recipe

Cooking further

23. Stir very well. If the dal looks thick, add about ½ cup water or more if required.

stir - chana dal recipe

24. Season with salt.

add salt to chana dal recipe

25. Stir and simmer the dal for 6 to 8 minutes until you get medium consistency in the chana dal.

simmer - chana dal recipe

26. This dal is neither thick nor thin. But you can keep the consistency thick if you want. If serving chana dal with rice, then medium consistency is preferred. If serving chana dal with roti or naan, then you can make a slightly thick consistency.

chana dal recipe, chana dal fry recipe

27. Add 1 to 2 tbsp of chopped coriander leaves. Instead of adding at this step, you can also garnish the chana dal fry with coriander leaves, while serving.

chana dal recipe

28. Stir finally.

chana dal fry recipe, bengal gram recipe

29. Serve chana dal fry with roti or steamed basmati rice or cumin rice or saffron rice and a side raita, salad or a vegetable dish. You could also serve it with naan along with cucumber raita and some papad.

chana dal recipe, chana dal fry recipe

More Indian Lentil Recipes

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chana dal recipe, punjabi chana dal fry recipe

Chana Dal (Authentic North Indian Recipe)

4.91 from 96 votes
This chana dal fry is Punjabi style recipe of bengal gram lentils or spilt chickpeas tempered & flavored with onions, tomatoes, herbs and spices.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins

Cuisine North Indian
Course: Main Course
Diet: Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 4


For cooking lentils

  • 1 cup chana dal (bengal gram or split chickpeas) – 200 grams
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water or add as required
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

Other ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic or 4 to 5 medium-sized garlic
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes or 2 medium-sized tomatoes
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger or 1 inch ginger
  • ½ teaspoon chopped green chilies or serrano pepper or 1 green chilli
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
  • ½ teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur powder) or add as required
  • 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) – crushed
  • salt as required
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)


Cooking lentils

  • Pick and rinse the chana dal well in running water. 
  • Soak the dal in enough water for an hour.
  • Drain the lentils and add them to a 3 litre pressure cooker along with turmeric powder. Add 2.5 to 3 cups water and stir well.
  • On a high flame, pressure cook the lentils for 10 to 11 minutes or for 7 to 8 whistles or more, till the dal is softened and well cooked. 
  • Keep the cooked chana dal aside.

Making chana dal fry

  • In another pan, heat oil or ghee.
  • Add the cumin first and fry for a few seconds till they splutter.
  • Then add the garlic and fry till they become light brown.
  • Now add the onions and fry till they get golden.
  • Now add the tomatoes, ginger and green chili.
  • Stir and add all the dry spice powders – turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder, asafoetida, dry mango powder and coriander powder.
  • Saute till the tomatoes get cooked and the oil starts to leave the side of the mixture.
  • Add the kasoori methi and stir.
  • Pour the cooked chana dal along with its stock to the sauteed masala mixture or vice versa. season with salt.
  • Stir and simmer the dal for 6 to 8 minutes till you get medium consistency of the dal. The chana dal is neither thick nor thin.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Serve the chana dal hot with some basmati rice or roti or bread.



Adjusting Consistency:
  1. If the dal becomes thick, then after adding the sauteed masala tempering mixture, add some water and simmer for some minutes.
  2. If the dal become thin, simmer for a longer time so that you get the right consistency.
For cooking lentils in a pot or pan: 
  1. First soak the lentils for an hour.
  2. Take 4 cups water and the drained lentils in a pot or pan.
  3. Add turmeric powder. Cover and cook the lentils for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till they are softened well. Add more water if required.
  4. If the mixture froths, then cook uncovered initially and then later cover and cook. Adding a few drops of oil reduces the frothing.

To make the chana dal gluten-free, omit adding the asafoetida (hing).

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Chana Dal (Authentic North Indian Recipe)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 272 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 312mg14%
Potassium 178mg5%
Carbohydrates 34g11%
Fiber 12g50%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 567IU11%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Vitamin E 5mg33%
Vitamin K 6µg6%
Calcium 102mg10%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 13µg3%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 12mg3%
Phosphorus 20mg2%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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  1. Your recipes continue to allow me to bring amazing food into my vegetarian home. I don’t know what I’d do without this site!!5 stars

  2. Hi Dassana. I don’t really cook much on a regular basis but all that has changed with lockdown and no cook! Thanks to you, my family I have been enjoying lovely vegetarian meals all through lockdown 🙂 This dal is yet another lovely dish. I think what really sets you apart is the care and detail you put into each recipe. Truly grateful for all the hard work and love you put in!5 stars

    1. Hi Tannaz, thank you for this super lovely feedback and glad that the details and the care I add in the recipes are helpful. Thanks for the rating on the chana dal recipe too. Most welcome and stay safe.

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