cholar dal recipe with step by step photos – cholar dal is a festive dal that is often made for celebrations in bengal and this includes the durga pooja celebrations. just like dal makhani is part of every punjabi wedding or celebration, similarly, cholar dal is made for special occasions like wedding, festival or a special guest.
again like luchi, when i made this cholar dal today, i was like why i did not make it earlier. cholar dal is made with chana dal or bengal gram. the dal is slightly sweet and fragrant due to the addition of whole spices or garam masala like bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. unlike many other bengali recipes, this dal does not use the 5 spice mix – panch phoron.
coconut bits are also added to the dal which gives a good texture to the dal. you can even skip the coconut if you don’t have it. this bengali festive dal does not have onion or garlic added to it.
traditionally cholar dal is always accompanied with luchi or koraishutir kachori. i had made both matar kachori and luchi to go with the dal. you can also serve it with radhaballavi. i think even just plain steamed basmati rice or jeera rice would be great with this dal. yet another popular combination of chana dal and fried bread, which i remember is the sindhi dal pakwan.
this cholar dal recipe has been adapted from the book “the calcutta cookbook” by jaya chaliha and minakshie dasgupta.
how to make cholar dal recipe:
1. pick and rinse 1 cup of chana dal (split bengal gram) well. then soak the dal in enough water for one hour. if you want to reduce the soaking time, then heat water and soak the dal in hot water for 30 minutes. then drain the water.
2. meanwhile take 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini), 2 green cardamoms and 3 cloves in a mortar.
3. crush or powder the whole spices with a mortar till they are powdered. place the spice powder aside.
4. after one hour, drain all the water from the dal.
5. in a pressure cooker, add the soaked chana dal and ½ teaspoon turmeric powder.
6. next add 2.5 cups water in the pressure cooker. for cooking in a pot or pan, you can add 4 to 5 cups water.
7. on a medium to high flame, pressure cook the chana dal for 4-5 whistles.
8. once the pressure settles down on its own, then remove the lid.
9. the grains should be separate and yet cooked thoroughly.
10. add salt as required to the cooked chana dal.
11. add 2 teaspoons sugar or add as required. mix well.
12. next add cashews and raisins. mix again. on a low flame, simmer the dal till the water reduces a bit. when you add the tempering to the dal, it should have the right consistency – meaning it should be slightly thick. remember that on cooling the dal will become more thick. cashews and raisins can be skipped.
tempering for cholar dal
13. while the dal is simmering and has begun to get thick, prepare the tempering. heat ½ tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. add 1 tej patta (indian bay leaf) and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds.
14. next add 1 teaspoon grated or finely chopped ginger.
15. also add 2 to 3 dry red chilies and 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing) along with the powdered whole spices (cinnamon+cloves+green cardamoms).
16. fry till they become aromatic. this takes a few seconds.
17. pour the whole tempering mixture in the simmering dal.
18. stir and mix well. then add ¼ teaspoon red chili powder.
19. next add ½ teaspoon cumin powder.
20. stir and mix well.
21. simmer the dal for 1-2 minutes more.
22. meanwhile, in the same pan, add 1 tablespoon ghee or oil, add 2 tablespoons of chopped or grated coconut.
23. fry till the coconut becomes light brown. add the fried coconut along with the remaining ghee or oil in the cholar dal. mix again.
24. serve cholar dal with luchi, kachori or radhaballavi and even steamed rice if you prefer.
more dal recipes
- 1 cup chana dal (split and husked bengal gram)
- 2.5 cups water for pressure cooking or 4 to 5 cups water for cooking in a pot
- 1 tablespoons golden raisins , optional
- 1 to 1.5 tablespoon cashews , optional
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 teaspoons sugar or add as required
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder or add as required
for tempering cholar dal
- 1 medium tej patta (indian bay leaf)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 to 3 dry red chilies
- 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- 1 teaspoon grated or finely chopped ginger
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut or chopped coconut
- 1.5 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or 2 tbsp oil (for a richer taste, use ghee)
for spice powder
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 2 green cardamoms
- pick and rinse the dal well.
- soak the dal for an hour in water.
- meanwhile take 1 inch cinnamon, 2 green cardamoms and 2 to 3 cloves.
- crush the whole spices in a mortar-pestle, till they are powdered. place the spice powder aside.
- if you want to reduce the soaking time of dal, then heat water and soak the dal in hot water for 30 minutes. drain the water.
making cholar dal
- once the dal is soaked, then drain all the water. add the soaked chana dal and turmeric powder in the pressure cooker.
- next add water.
- on a medium to high flame pressure cook the dal for 4 to 5 whistles.
- the grains should be separate and yet cooked thoroughly.
- once the pressure settles down on its own, then remove the lid
- add sugar and salt to the dal. if using cashews and raisins then add them now.
- stir and keep the cooker on a low flame to simmer the dal, till the water reduces a bit.
- when you add the tempering to the dal, it should have the right consistency - meaning it should be slightly thick.
- remember that on cooling the dal will become more thick.
- while the dal is simmering and has begun to get thick, prepare the tempering.
tempering for cholar dal
- heat ½ tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. first add the following spices - 1 bay leaf (tej patta) and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds.
- next add 1 teaspoon grated ginger. also add 2 to 3 dry red chilies, 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing) along the powdered whole spices.
- fry till they become aromatic. this takes a few seconds. then pour this tempering in the dal. mix well.
- stir and then add cumin powder and red chili powder. mix well.
- simmer the dal for 1 to 2 minutes more.
- in the same pan take 1 tablespoon ghee or oil. add 2 tablespoon of chopped or grated coconut (nariyal). fry till the coconut becomes light brown.
- add the fried coconut along with the ghee or oil to the dal. mix well.
- serve cholar dal with luchi, bengali peas kachori and even steamed rice if you prefer.
- if the cholar dal becomes thick after its pressure cooked, then add some water to thin it. the consistency of the dal can always be adjusted by adding less or more water after its cooked. you can also slightly keep the consistency thin then what it is usually if you prefer.
- avoid asafoetida or hing to make a gluten free version of this dal.
- to get hints of gingery taste in the cholar dal, you can add ½ inch ginger - either grated or crushed into a paste in a mortar-pestle. just fry the ginger after you have finished frying the whole spices and asafoetida.