Maa Chole Ki Dal recipe is a staple curried mixed lentils dish made in every Punjabi household. If you love lentils, you will love this hearty, healthy dish that has a unique name and made with primarily two lentils – chana dal (split skinned bengal gram) and urad dal (split black gram with skin). It makes for a delicious and filling meal when served with a side of roti, paratha or steamed basmati rice.
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Whats with the Name?
When I first heard the name, I was amused. I did not even know that such a lentil recipe exists with such a name. Let me break it down for you.
- ‘Maa or Maah‘ here means Black Gram or Urad Dal.
- ‘Chole’ is Bengal Gram or Chana Dal.
So In Punjabi we call this mixed lentils dish as “maa chole ki dal” or “maa choliyan di dal“.
Many delicious Indian dal recipes are made by combining two or more dals. Example Rajasthani Panchmel Dal or Gujarati Trevti Dal.
This Punjabi dal is one more fine example of preparing a flavorful dal recipe by combining the two lentils, which I have mentioned earlier.
Both the lentils are split. But the black gram has their black skins on.
The end result is a smooth dal with a creamy texture from the black gram and a subtle nutty sweetness from the chana dal.
About This Maa Chole ki Dal
This maa chole ki dal is minimally spiced. We don’t over spice this dal with spices, but do use a fair amount of onion, ginger, garlic and green chilies.
They do add some depth to the dal in terms of taste and flavors. So that the dal does not become bland.
If you have ever eaten food in gurudwaras or langars, then this mah chole ki dal will remind you of the dal served in gurudwaras. It tastes simply too good.
The dal served there have a slight thick consistency and sweet in taste. You can also check this Langarwali dal (Amritsari dal) and Dhaba dal made with a mix of 5 lentils.
This mah choleyan di daal is a filling dal and should be eaten hot with rice, roti or parathas. The dal is also very heavy.
I have learned to make this dal from my mother-in-law, who has been making this way for many years. This is a family favorite recipe that I am sharing.
I usually first sauté the spices, onions, tomatoes and then add the lentils. Sometimes, my mother-in-law makes a one pot dal. She does not sauté the ingredients but simply adds everything in the pressure cooker with some butter or ghee and let the dal cook.
You can also cook mah chole ki dal in a pot. Only that they will take a longer time to cook. If cooking in a pot, then soak the dal for 45 minutes or 1 hour prior to cooking.
The quantity of water should be adjusted when cooking in a pot. Ensure that the final consistency of the dish is not watery or runny. This dal has a medium consistency. I recommend using a thick bottomed pot, so that the cooked dal does not stick at the bottom.
How to make Maa Chole Ki Dal
1. Pick and rinse ⅓ cup each of chana dal and split urad dal (with skins) in fresh water a couple of times. Then soak both the lentils for half an hour in water. Later drain all the water and set the lentils aside.
Make sure that you are using fresh lentils and they are not aged. They should be in their shelf period.
Sautéing spices, onions, tomatoes
2. In a 3 litre stovetop pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons of oil. You can use any neutral-flavored oil.
Splutter ½ teaspoon cumin seeds first on low heat.
3. Then add ⅓ cup chopped onions.
5. Sauté onion until light golden stirring often on a medium-low heat.
6. Add ½ teaspoon each of finely chopped ginger and garlic and ½ to 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies. Fry for about 15 to 20 seconds or until the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic goes away.
7. Then add ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes. Sauté stirring often until the tomatoes become soft and pulpy and you see oil leaving the sides of the pressure cooker.
8. Now add ¼ or ⅓ teaspoon turmeric powder, ½ teaspoon red chili powder and 1 pinch of asafoetida (optional). Sauté for 4 to 5 seconds.
9. Then add the soaked lentils. Stir and mix well.
10. Pour 2.5 cups of water.
11. Add salt according to taste. Stir and mix again.
12. Pressure cook for 8 to 9 whistles or 10 to 12 minutes on medium to medium-high heat until both the lentils are softened and mushy.
When the pressure settles down on its own in the cooker, then only open the lid and check the lentils.
13. If the lentils are not cooked completely and the water has dried up, then add about ½ to 1 cup water and pressure cook for some more time. Both the lentils should become soft and mushy.
Open the lid when the pressure settles down on its own. Then simmer the dal for some more minutes till you get a smooth consistency. If needed you can add some water if the dal looks too thick.
The dal should not be watery or runny but have a medium consistency. Mash a few cooked lentils with the back of a spoon when the dal is simmering. Mashing some lentils helps in thickening the dal.
14. Lastly add ½ teaspoon garam masala powder. Stir and mix well. Taste the dal and add more of the spice powders and salt if needed.
15. Once the lentils have cooked to your desired consistency, add or garnish with 1 to 2 tablespoons of coriander leaves.
Serving and storage
Serve Maa Chole Ki Dal hot or warm with chapati, plain paratha or steamed rice. Store any leftover dal in a covered bowl or container in the refrigerator for a day.
This dal will thicken when cooling. While reheating add some water and mix. Reheat the dal in a small pan and serve.
If you are looking for more Dal Recipes then do check:
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Maa Chole Di Dal
- 2 tablespoons oil – can sub with ghee or butter
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ⅓ cup finely chopped onions or 1 medium-sized
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger or ½ inch
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped garlic or 2 to 3 small to medium-sized
- ½ to 1 teaspoon finely chopped green chilies or 1 to 2 green chillies
- ½ cup finely chopped tomatoes or 2 medium-sized
- ¼ or ⅓ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) – optional
- ⅓ cup chana dal (split skinned bengal gram)
- ⅓ cup urad dal – split and with skins (split black gram)
- 2.5 cups water – for pressure cooking
- salt as required
- ½ to 1 cup water – to be added later, optional and if required
- ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coriander leaves – optional
- Pick and rinse both the lentils in fresh water a few times. Soak them in enough water for 30 minutes.
- If you have time, you can soak the dal for 45 minutes or more for faster cooking.
- Later drain all the water and set the soaked lentils aside.
Sautéing onions and tomatoes
- In a 3-litre stovetop pressure cooker, heat oil. Add the cumin seeds and fry them until they crackle on low heat.
- Then add onions and sauté them until light golden stirring often on medium-low heat.
- Add the finely chopped ginger, garlic and green chilies.
- Sauté for about 15 to 20 seconds or until the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic goes away.
- Add the tomatoes and sauté stirring often until the tomatoes become soft and pulpy.
- Now add the turmeric powder, red chili powder, asafoetida and garam masala. Fry for 4 to 5 seconds.
Adding lentils and water
- Add both the soaked lentils. Stir and mix well.
- Pour water and add salt as required. Mix again
Pressure cooking lentils
- Stir and pressure cook for 8 to 9 whistles or 10 to 12 minutes on medium to medium-high heat until both the lentils are softened and mushy.
- When the pressure settles down on its own, then only remove the lid and check the lentils.
- If they are not cooked completely and the water has dried up, add about ½ to 1 cup water and pressure cook for some more time. Both the lentils should become mushy and soft.
Simmering lentils further
- Open the lid when the pressure settles down on its own in the cooker.
- Simmer the dal for some more minutes until you get a smooth medium consistency.
- The dal should not be watery or runny.
- Mash a few cooked lentils with the back of a spoon when the dal is simmering. This helps in thickening the dal. If needed you can add some water if the dal looks too thick.
- Check the seasonings and add more of the spice powders and salt if required.
- Once the lentils have cooked to your desired consistency, add or garnish with coriander leaves.
Serving and storage
- Serve the Maa Chole Ki Dal hot or warm with roti, paratha or steamed rice.
- Refrigerate leftovers for a day only in a covered container or bowl.
- Lentils: Make sure to make this dal with fresh lentils. Avoid aged lentils as they take a lot of time to cook and also don’t taste as good as fresh lentils.
- Soaking lentils: You can choose to skip soaking the lentils. Increase the cooking time for un-soaked lentils. However, I recommend to soak them for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Consistency: Maa chole ki dal has medium consistency. Do not make it very thick or runny. The lentils will also thicken on cooling. If they become too thick, add a bit of water while reheating.
- Spicing: For a spicy dal, increase the amount of green chillies and red chilli powder.
- Gluten-free dal: Omit adding asafoetida or use gluten-free asafoetida for a gluten-free version.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Maa Chole ki Dal post from the blog archives first published in July 2013 has been republished and updated on 12 January 2022.
Can we afford whole urad dal instead of split?
you can use whole urad dal, but then soak the lentils overnight. with whole urad dal the taste will be more like dal bukhara or dal makhani.
Hi, The dal tastes very nice.
But there is one peculiar thing about it, when I cook it and pack for lunch for office. It gets spoiled, just after 4 hours it’s totally spoiled with some white foam over its surface.
I have done this twice and both the times it got spoilt.
What could be the reason?
strange. when we make this dal, we make it for both lunch and dinner and it does not get spoiled. i would suggest to pack the dal in a steel tiffin box. add it hot as soon as the dal is made and then cover with lid. the hotness will prevent growth of any microorganism and the dal will not get spoiled.
Awesome! Even my normally finicky varan bhat eating kid liked it!
thats great and nice to know Girija ?
thanks for sharing.
Hi! Is there a way to cook the lentils in a regular pot? I am at beginner in Indian cooking and I don’t like the pressure cooker and never use it 🙁 My mom uses it a lot, I just don’t like using it.
soak both the lentils for 1 hour. begin with tempering in a deep bottomed pot or pan. then lastly add the lentils and water. cover and cook. if the lentils begin to froth, then open the lid and continue to simmer. cook for about 45 minutes to an hours till the lentils are mushy and well cooked. you can add about 2.5 to 3 cups water initially and if required add more water later.
I have been following your blog for a year and it is my go-to place for all vegetarian dishes. Love your site!
Apart from Maa chhole ki dal, what other dishes can be made with split urad dal ? Please let me know.
welcome rinki. you can make panchmel dal or sookhi urad dal ki sabzi.
I’m ashamed to say that I am a beginner (in cooking) at the age of 38 but after scrolling and surfing many websites, stumbled upon yours ….And I think it is one of the best things that happened to me. For a beginner like me, a step by step pic is genuinely what I need …. And this website just fulfills that need. A BIG THANK YOU for taking so much effort in clicking step by step pics…. I have vowed to try something new almost every alternate day and thanks to this website, all dishes have turned out well…. Wish I cold personally meet you and hug you tight
thanks payal for this sweet feedback. one is never too old to learn and never feel ashamed or guilty of anything because it kills the spirit. i wish you all the best.
Hi Dassana, another hit recipe! I enjoyed cooking urad dal (with chana dal) in the Punjabi style. I previously had urad dal cooked in the traditional Bengali way, although that’s a slightly different taste.
On an unrelated note, have you considered a “favourites or recently commented” section in your blog? Would be very useful for those of us who are interested in trying out different cuisines and recipes.
Cheers and have a blessed Sunday.
thanks for sharing your positive feedback and for this idea. i have never thought this way. most probably we will give it a try.
Nice dal recepie…luks yummy. Can we add whole urad dhal with black skin instead of split urad dhal?
in this recipe, always split urad dal is added. if you add whole urad dal, the dish will be somewhat like dal makhani. so i won’t suggest to add whole urad dal.
All your recipes are grt dassana…my hub has got transferred to north ..v r from south…ur recipes makes me feel comfortable to try out new simple and tasty dishes using the items available in my nearby supermarket…Keep going…ALL the best and now i hav gotbthe habit like wen i search fr a recipe and if ur names seen n d link i opt nly fr ur blog….
thanks pari for the positive feedback. i felt good reading it.
How many tomatoes?? It is not menitioned in the ingredients list..
2 small tomatoes. thanks for letting me know. i have updated the post.
Loved reading this post :), you have become a pakka Punjabi by now …. I make this dal regularly at home and have eaten it during langar too 🙂
Even i never heard this name 🙂 good to know the combination 🙂 DEF i will try this 🙂
thats a new recipe for me. sometimes make mah di dal with split urad but combining these wo dals will definitely give a creamier result. looks fantastic.