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 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.
The flavors & taste of this Chana dal fry is North Indian and the preparation is like the way we make in Punjabi households.
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.
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.
3. Later drain the water.
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.
5. Add about 2.5 to 3 cups water.
6. pressure cook the chana dal for 7 to 8 whistles on a high flame, till they are softened and well cooked.
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.
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.
9. add the chopped garlic. About 4 to 5 garlic cloves which have been finely chopped.
10. fry till the garlic become light brown.
11. now add ½ cup chopped onions.
12. Stir and saute the onions.
13. Saute onions till they become golden.
14. now add the chopped tomatoes. About 2 medium tomatoes, chopped.
15. Add finely chopped ginger and green chili. 1 inch ginger and 1 green chili, finely chopped.
16. Stir well.
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.
18. Stir well and continue to saute.
19. saute till the tomatoes are softened and the fat starts to leave the side of the masala mixture.
20. add the crushed kasoori methi/dry fenugreek leaves. 1 tsp kasuri methi which has been crushed.
21. Stir again.
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.
Cooking chana dal to desired consistency
23. stir very well. If the dal looks thick, add about ½ cup water or more if required.
24. season with salt.
25. stir and simmer the dal for 6 to 8 minutes till you get medium consistency in the chana dal.
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.
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.
28. Stir finally.
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.
More Dal recipes
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
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.
- If the dal becomes thick, then after adding the sauteed masala tempering mixture, add some water and simmer for some minutes.
- If the dal become thin, simmer for a longer time so that you get the right consistency.
- First soak the lentils for an hour.
- Then take 4. Cups of water along with the drained lentils in a pot.
- Also 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 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.