Chana Dal is a North Indian style curry dish made using Split Bengal Gram (also know as split chickpea or yellow gram) as the main ingredient in onion tomato base gravy. Chana Dal (like most lentils) is a highly nutritious and a great source of proteins for vegetarians. No wonder its so popular in India and a staple ingredient in most pantries. This dal (which is actually split chickpea with skin removed) inherits the nuttier texture from Chickpeas giving the gravy a nice texture. Serve this dal with Rice/Roti/Indian Flat bread and a side of simple onion tomato salad and voila you have a comfort meal ready.
Although this dal has a very simple and basic recipe, the flavor and taste are exceptional. For those who are new to this dal may get confused between Toor dal and Chana dal. They both look very much similar but a closer look will show the difference . Toor dal is smaller and slightly flatter. I've used pressure cooker to cook the dal as thats how I generally cook my dals as its just so much quicker. But you can still make this dal without a pressure cooker too. Please see notes for details on how.
Now to the recipe...
For Pressure Cooking the Dal:
1 cup chana dal (split bengal gram/yellow gram/split chickpea)
4 cups water
1 black cardamom (badi elaichi)
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
For Making Dal:
Pressure cooked chana dal (from above)
1 - 2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 dry red chilli broken into 4-6 pieces
1 tablespoon garlic paste or minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 medium sized onion finely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes finely chopped
½ teaspoon red chilli powder (or to taste)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds powder
½ teaspoon dry mango powder (amchur) Or Lemon juice to taste
1 tablespoon dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
¼ teaspoon garam masala
1-2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
salt to taste
Wash the chana dal thoroughly and soak in water for about 10-30 mins. Drain the water and then add dal to the pressure cooker along with water, black cardamom, turmeric powder. asafoetida and salt. Cook for about 3-4 whistles and then switch off the gas. Wait until the steam has completely escaped before opening the pressure cooker lid. If you are able to easily mash the dal with your spoon or between the fingers you know its ready. Keep aside
Now in a vessel heat oil and once hot add the cumin seeds and red chilies. Once the seeds start sizzling add the ginger garlic paste and saute for min. Then add the onions and cook until they turn translucent and light brown. Now add the tomatoes along with salt and cover and cook till tomatoes are soft. Keep stirring intermittently to avoid the masala from sticking to the vessel.
Now add the dry spices likes red chilli, coriander, cumin seeds, dry mango powder and mix well. Cook for a minute or two and then add the pressure cooked dal. Mix well so that the onion tomato masala gets nicely incorporated with the dal. Gently mash the dal with the spoon a couple of times and bring it to a boil. Now add the dry fenugreek leaves, garam masala and mix well. Simmer for 5 mins & then top it with coriander leaves just before serving.
- If you dont have a pressure cooker to cook the dal, you can cook it in a vessel too. Adding the same ingredients as mentioned for pressure cooking the dal, bring it to a boil and simmer on medium low stirring intermittently until its soft. Will definitely take longer than pressure cooking but there will not be any change of taste.
That's it, our healthy and nutritious Chana Dal is ready. Serve it hot with Rice/Roti/Indian Flat bread with a side of onion tomato salad and Green Chutney/pickle. Enjoy!!