cholar dal

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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.

cholar dal recipe

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.

Cholar dal is usually made thick unlike other Indian dals like Dal tadka or Dal fry. if you prefer you can make the dal with medium or slightly thin consistency.

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.

cholar dal recipe

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.

soaking chana dal

2. Meanwhile take 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini), 2 green cardamoms and 3 cloves in a mortar.

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.

crushed whole spices

4. After one hour, drain all the water from the dal.

drained chana dal

5. In a pressure cooker, add the soaked chana dal and ½ teaspoon turmeric powder.

soaked chana dal in pressure cooker

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.

add 2.5 cups water in the pressure cooker

7. On a medium to high flame, pressure cook the chana dal for 4-5 whistles.

pressure cook the chana dal

8. Once the pressure settles down on its own, then remove the lid.

pressure cooked chana dal

9. The grains should be separate and yet cooked thoroughly.

cooked chana dal

10. Add salt as required to the cooked chana dal.

add salt

11. Add 2 teaspoons sugar or add as required. Mix well.

add 2 teaspoons sugar

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.

add cashews and raisins

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.

ghee for tempering

14. Next add 1 teaspoon grated or finely chopped ginger.

add 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).

add 2 to 3 dry red chilies

16. Fry till they become aromatic. This takes a few seconds.

frying

17. Pour the whole tempering mixture in the simmering dal.

add tempering mixture to dal

18. Stir and mix well. Then add ¼ teaspoon red chili powder.

mix

19. Next add ½ teaspoon cumin powder.

add ½ teaspoon cumin powder

20. Stir and mix well.

mix well

21. Simmer the dal for 1-2 minutes more.

simmer cholar dal

22. Meanwhile, in the same pan, add 1 tablespoon ghee or oil, add 2 tablespoons of chopped or grated coconut.

cholar dal recipe

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.

cholar dal recipe

24. Serve cholar dal with luchi, kachori or radhaballavi and even steamed rice if you prefer.

cholar dal recipe
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Cholar Dal

4.34 from 9 votes
Cholar dal is a traditional Bengali recipe of chana dal or bengal gram cooked with coconut and spices.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr

Cuisine Bengali
Course: Main Course

Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

main ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

preparation

  • 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.

Notes

Tips for making cholar dal recipe:
  • 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.

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Dassana Amit

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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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37 Comments

  1. Hi mam,
    iam shamim from bangladesh. actually i started a little restaurant. its only to serve luchi and chana dal. i how will do to make nice delicious chana dal and potato recipe.

  2. Hi,
    I can’t get hold of fresh coconut 🙁 Can I use desiccated coconut instead? And if yes how much? Thanx.

    1. you can use desiccated coconut. use the same amount as mentioned as in the recipe for fresh coconut.

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