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cholar dal recipe, how to make cholar dal | bengali style chana 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.

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, dal fry, andhra tomato dal or surati dal. if you prefer you can make the dal with medium or slightly thin consistency.

traditionally cholar dal is always accompanied with luchi or 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.

if you are looking for more dal recipes then do check arhar dal fry, amritsari dal, chana dal fry, masoor dal, moong dal tadka and khatti dal.

cholar dal recipe card below:

3.67 from 6 votes
cholar dal recipe - bengali style chana dal
prep time
30 mins
cook time
30 mins
total time
1 hr

cholar dal is a traditional bengali recipe of chana dal or bengal gram cooked with coconut and spices.

course: main course
cuisine: bengali
servings: 4
author: dassana amit
ingredients (1 cup = 250 ml)
main ingredients for cholar dal:
  • 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 (kishmish), optional
  • 1 to 1.5 tablespoon cashews (kaju), optional
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi powder),
  • 2 teaspoons sugar or add as required
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder (jeera powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon red chilli powder (lal mirch powder) or add as required
for tempering cholar dal:
  • 1 medium tej patta (indian bay leaf)
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 to 3 dry red chilies (sookhi lal mirch)
  • 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 teaspoon grated or finely chopped ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut or chopped coconut (nariyal ke tukde)
  • 1.5 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) or 2 tbsp oil (for a richer taste, use ghee)
for spice powder:
  • 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
  • 3 cloves (laung)
  • 2 green cardamoms (choti elaichi)
how to make recipe
preparation for cholar dal recipe:
  1. pick and rinse the dal well.
  2. soak the dal for an hour in water.
  3. meanwhile take 1 inch cinnamon, 2 green cardamoms and 2 to 3 cloves.

  4. crush the whole spices in a mortar-pestle, till they are powdered. place the spice powder aside.

  5. 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:
  1. once the dal is soaked, then drain all the water. add the soaked chana dal and turmeric powder in the pressure cooker.

  2. next add water.

  3. on a medium to high flame pressure cook the dal for 4 to 5 whistles.

  4. the grains should be separate and yet cooked thoroughly.
  5. once the pressure settles down on its own, then remove the lid

  6. add sugar and salt to the dal. if using cashews and raisins then add them now.

  7. stir and keep the cooker on a low flame to simmer the dal, till the water reduces a bit.

  8. when you add the tempering to the dal, it should have the right consistency - meaning it should be slightly thick.

  9. remember that on cooling the dal will become more thick.

  10. while the dal is simmering and has begun to get thick, prepare the tempering.

tempering for cholar dal:
  1. heat ½ tablespoon ghee or oil in a pan. first add the following spices - 1 bay leaf (tej patta) and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds.

  2. next add 1 teaspoon grated ginger. also add 2 to 3 dry red chilies, 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing) along the powdered whole spices.

  3. fry till they become aromatic. this takes a few seconds. then pour this tempering in the dal. mix well.

  4. stir and then add cumin powder and red chili powder. mix well.

  5. simmer cholar dal for 1 to 2 minutes more.

  6. 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.

  7. add the fried coconut along with the ghee or oil to the dal. mix well.

  8. serve cholar dal with luchi, bengali peas kachori and even steamed rice if you prefer.

recipe 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.


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 cholar dal for 1-2 minutes more.

22. meanwhile, in the same pan, add 1 tablespoon ghee or oil, add 2 tablespoon of chopped or grated coconut (nariyal).

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, bengali peas kachori or radhaballavi and even steamed rice if you prefer.




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This post was last modified on June 18, 2018, 4:30 pm

    Categories Bengali RecipesDal RecipesDinner RecipesFestival RecipesNo Onion No GarlicVegan Recipes

View Comments (34)

  • I have a Bengali friend who made this during the durga puja days. I like the addition of cloves, cardamoms and coconut in the tempering in your dal recipe. I will give it a try next time I make chana dal.

  • Made this Bengali style cholar dal the other day with some modifications and I have to say it turned out amazing! My husband, parents and parents-in-law all loved it. Thanks a ton for the recipe.

  • The authentic chholar dal recipe calls for sada jeera ( cumin seed) replacing cumin powder. You may put fried diced coconut, but the addition of cashews and raisins may be an overkill. Bengalis are fairly frugal people. The more basic the recipe is without the royal paraphernalia, the better is the dish. Chholar dal need not have cardamom either. You may try it with cinnamon and bay leaf only. To give it a regal taste, the only luxury ... Use clarified butter or ghee or a combo of ghee and safflower or sunflower oil. A gentle hint of garam masala sprinkled on top after cooking may enhance the flavour. A wonderfully succulent begun bhaja with shaktibhog rice is a perfect combination. However, if you are having luchi, you need to put raisins in the dal. Enjoy.

    • This is delicious. It tastes like it could be a dessert. I added 1 tsp of raw sugar instead of 2 tsps, but I think I would have enjoyed it more without any sugar. I've never had Bengali-style channa dal. Is it generally sweet?

  • Thanks ! I made it today (without kismis and kashew), it tastes very good
    Rajib Chakraborty

  • Hello Dessana,

    I do not see the amount of cumin and red chili powder to add in the recipe ingredients. Can you please share that information with me.? I look forward to this DAL.....LOVE Indian food and especially dals.

    Thank you for your website and recipes!

    Sincerely,
    Linda Morse, Durango, CO, USA

    • linda, you have very sharp eyes. thanks for pointing it out. i have mentioned the ingredients quantity. thanks a lot.

  • Being a Bengali make this recipe on every sunday with luchi!!nd it is loved by all...thanks for sharing!!

  • looking for luchi, radha bhallavi, kumbhra sabji. mughlai parantha.........authentic professional style recepie.............live in kolkotta for 100 years and cannot forget their taste....kolkotta is the the food capital of south asia. bengali, north, south, chinese,,,,,u will get the best food in kolkotta,,,,even if u r vegetarian,,,u will not b able to resist the taste and become non vegetarian occasionally to taste the food...

  • Hi,
    I can't get hold of fresh coconut :( Can I use desiccated coconut instead? And if yes how much? Thanx.

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

Comments are closed.