chana dal

chana dal recipe with step by step photos – here 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 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 recipe

chana dal is also known as bengal gram. these lentils have a sweet and nutty taste. chana dal comes from black chickpeas (kala chana). they are split and the outer cover 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. i make variety of chana dal recipes like chana dal sundal or cholar dal or maah chole ki dal.

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, its 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.

how to make chana dal

cooking chana dal

1. pick and rinse ¾ cup chana dal in running water for a couple of times. drain.

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 the pressure cooker. also add ¼ tsp add turmeric powder. for cooking the lentils in a pot or pan, kindly check the notes section of the recipe details above.

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 7 to 8 whistles on a high flame, 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. below pic shows cooked chana dal. cover and keep the cooked lentils aside.

cooked chana dal for preparing chanda dal recipe

making chana dal fry

8. heat 2 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan. add ¾ tsp cumin seeds first and fry for a few seconds till they splutter.

oil for making chana dal recipe

9. add the chopped garlic. about 4 to 5 garlic cloves which have been finely chopped.

sauting onions for chana dal fry recipe

10. fry till the garlic become light brown.

making chana dal fry recipe

11. now add ½ cup chopped onions.

onions for chana dal fry recipe

12. stir and saute the onions.

frying onions for chana dal recipe

13. saute onions till they become golden.

making chana dal recipe

14. now add the chopped tomatoes. about 2 medium tomatoes, chopped.

tomatoes for chana dal recipe

15. add finely chopped ginger and green chili. 1 inch ginger and 1 green chili, finely chopped.

add ginger for chana dal recipe

16. stir well.

stir chana dal fry masala

17. then add all the dry spice powders – ½ tsp red chili powder, ¼ tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp garam masala powder, ½ dry mango powder, a pinch of asafoetida and 1 tsp coriander powder.

spices for chana dal recipe

18. stir well and continue to saute.

making chana dal recipe

19. saute 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 tsp kasuri methi which has been crushed.

making chana dal recipe

21. 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 sauteed masala mixture to the cooked dal.

tempering - chana dal recipe

cooking chana dal to desired consistency

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 till you get medium consistency in the chana dal.

simmer - chana dal recipe

26. the 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 rotis or phulkas, 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 now, 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 with rotis 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 papads.

chana dal recipe, chana dal fry recipe
more dal recipes

Chana Dal

4.81 from 63 votes
this chana dal fry is punjabi style recipe of bengal gram lentils tempered & flavored with spices.
chana dal recipe, punjabi chana dal fry recipe
Author:Dassana Amit
Prep Time:15 mins
Cook Time:15 mins
Total Time:30 mins
Course:main course
Cuisine:north indian
Servings (change the number to scale):3 to 4 servings
(1 CUP = 250 ML)

INGREDIENTS

for pressure cooking chana dal

  • ¾ cup chana dal (bengal gram or split chickpea)
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder

for tempering the chana dal

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

INSTRUCTIONS

pressure cooking chana dal

  • 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 the 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 7 to 8 whistles or more, till the dal is softened and well cooked. 
  • keep the cooked chana dal aside.

making chana dal

  • 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 6-8 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 rotis or bread.

NOTES

consistency of chana dal can be easily adjusted:
  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 the chana dal in a pot or pan: 
  1. first soak the lentils for an hour.
  2. then take 4. cups of water along with the drained lentils in a pot.
  3. also add turmeric powder. cover and cook the lentils for 45 minutes to 1 hour, till they are softened. add more water if required.
  4. if the mixture froths, then cook uncovered initially and then later cover and cook. a few drops of oil can also be added to reduce the frothing.
note: to make the chana dal gluten free, omit adding the asafoetida (hing).
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dassana amit

Founder, Chef, Recipe Developer, Food Photographer >> MORE ABOUT US

namaste and welcome to vegrecipesofindia.com which i started in feb 2009 and is a pure vegetarian blog. i have been passionate about cooking from childhood and began to cook from the age of 10. later having enrolled in a home science degree greatly enhanced my cooking & baking skills and took it to a different level which i now share as foolproof recipes. i was formally trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.

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173 comments/reviews

  1. How do I make this recipe I don’t have a pressure cooker I am using pots and frying pans5 stars

    • soak chana dal for an hour or a couple of hours. drain the water, rinse the lentils in fresh water and then cook them in a pot or pan with enough water. they will take 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook. add a few drops of oil, so that the frothing reduces while cooking. you can cover the pan, but if water starts frothing, then cook uncovered. hope this helps.

  2. Love the recipe. I made it differently. I sautéed tempering mixture first in the pressure cooker and then added the lentils and pressure cooked up to 12 whistles. I also added a pinch of baking powder to make sure the lentils are perfectly cooked.5 stars

    • thanks bharat for sharing the method. i also do this way at times. both the methods work. the one-pot method is a quick one. thanks for the rating and review on the chana dal recipe too.

  3. One of my favorite recipes, and I make often, with some variations now and then. I live in Chicago, where fortunately I am able to get the ingredients. Thank you so much for sharing it!5 stars

  4. this has become my favourite dal, all those little additions like mango powder and fenugreek really give this dish a wonderful flavour. Thanks for sharing Dassana, my family are also appreciating the results of your recipe, i am going to try many more!5 stars

  5. I cooked this Dal, and all the Family members enjoyed the different flavours.
    Thank You so much for making our Stomach this Happy. God Bless You5 stars

  6. I have tried this quite a few times and it was absolutely delicious.Love it with steamed basmati rice .5 stars

    • thanks winnie for this positive feedback as well as the rating. steamed basmati rice goes very well with this chana dal recipe. even roti or paratha tastes good.

  7. Awesome flavour! I made this without onion and garlic and it was still delicious 🙂 Thank you!

  8. Every time I think I’ve discovered the best recipe yet, I’m astonished by a new one. This one embarrassed me at work all week because I couldn’t help but moan every time I tasted it. I’m making more this weekend!5 stars

  9. I am french, vegetarian, and I like so much your site. I am lucky to live not far away from Strasbourg, (where there is a good Indian store) so I can found all what I need to follow exactly your receipt. It’s a great pleasure to try new receipt and to make discover to my friends the best food all over the world
    Thanks for all.
    loup5 stars

    • thanks a lot loup for this lovely comment 🙏. even if you do not get some of the ingredients that are used in indian cooking, then they can be skipped. welcome and happy cooking 🙂

  10. I’ve made this several times and it is really delicious but I can’t quite get the bit where “fat leaves the sides of the masala mixture.” I just can’t get that “oily” look even though I’ve cooked it for longer. Could this be because I’m using olive oil instead of ghee. How long should it take to achieve this oily look. I tried for half an hour.5 stars

      • Thanks Dassana. I will try the recipe with ghee and see how it turns out. I am wondering whether temperature has something to do with it too, I have been using a non-stick frypan but don’t think it gets to a high enough temperature and seems to “stew” rather than cook. I might use my copper bottom pan which seems to cook everything perfectly although harder to clean.5 stars

        • jeanne, you can also use sunflower oil or peanut oil apart from ghee. i have made many recipes in non stick pans on a low to medium-low flame and i would be able to see the fat leaving the sides of the masala. so i don’t think its due to the non stick pan. you can try in the copper pan also.

  11. Hello Dassana,
    I’ve used many of your recepies for daily cooking. All have turned out so delicious. Thank you so much!!5 stars