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Chana Dal

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Chana dal is an easy and healthy split chickpeas curry made with Indian spices and herbs. This is gluten-free and vegan too. Serve it over white rice and pickle for a wholesome meal.

Casserole dish with split bengal gram dal.
Dal with Split Chickpeas Chana Bengal Gram

The one great thing about chana dal is that it is high in protein so if you are on a diet this is a very wholesome, hearty, and satisfying meal.

The best way to cook the chana dal is in a stovetop pressure cooker or electric Instant Pot as compared to the regular pot on the stovetop. Having said that you can definitely cook it on the stove. It takes longer and needs a check on the water often.

Ingredients and substitutes

  • Dal – I am using chana dal, split chickpeas or split Bengal gram today. But, this recipe is quite easy to use with other pulses and legumes too. Try my yellow dal recipe or dal makhani.
  • Onions – traditionally, classic brown onion is used but I do love to use sweet red onions
  • Garlic ginger – Always fresh ginger and garlic work best with Indian food.
  • Spices – you can add a few whole spices but I like to keep to the basics chili powder, coriander, cumin, and garam masala.
  • Herbs – I like to keep it simple with chopped cilantro but you can also use a combination of dill and cilantro or parsley.
A casserole dish with chana dal.
Dal with Split Chickpeas Chana Bengal Gram

Tips for Success

  • Lentils and pulses are stored for months in sacks and storage facilities which is why rinsing them more than a few times in running water is very very important. 
  • Soaking the lentils will ensure that the dal is softened which gives a better texture to the dal as compared to a grainy texture when you cook unsoaked 
  • Some people like dal soft while others like to see the individual grains (al dante) as I have done today. So adjust the cooking time to suit your preference. 
  • The quality of your lentils and legumes will often determine the cooking time. Older dal may take a few minutes longer to cook which is why soaking is very important. 
  • This is an easier, fuss-free recipe to make dal in one pot. Traditionally, dal is often soaked and cooked in water in a pressure cooker without any spices or seasoning. Then, a tadka (tempering) is prepared and added to the dal just before serving. This was an easier way to prepare large quantities of lentils and save them for later use. 
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust the species to make it spicer. 
  • You can also add diced vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, spinach, etc to the dal to make it more nutritious 
  • For restaurant-style dal – add up to 4 tbsp of ghee! 
  • Once the dal is ready, you can add more water if required to adjust consistency. Similarly, if you prefer it thicker, just cook on high for a few minutes until the excess water evaporates. 
Vegetarian dishes in a thali.
Thali Recipe – North Indian, Vegetarian
What is chana dal?

Chana dal is the Indian (Hindi) name for split chickpeas. The whole chickpea is skinned and then split in half which is why they don’t look like chickpeas. They are often also called Bengal gram or yellow gram in English. This ‘chana dal’ or ‘chane ke dal’ recipe is a North Indian (Punjabi) dish that has become very popular around the world.

How long will this dal keep?

This dal will keep in the fridge for 3 to 4 days and in the freezer for up to a month. Make sure to cool it completely before storing it in the fridge or freezer.

Can I make chana dal without pressure cooking?

Absolutely! Saute and simmer everything as below in a stovetop pot. The only difference is that pressure cooking reduces the cooking time. On the stovetop, it will take about an hour to cook as compared to 15 minutes in the pressure cooker. BUT, it can be done. Make sure to stir frequently and top with more water as necessary to ensure it cooks evenly.

Pinterest image for chane ki dal.
Dal with Split Chickpeas Chana Bengal Gram

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A serving dish with split bengal gram dal.

Chana Dal – Split Chickpeas Dal

5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
soaking time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Calories: 254kcal
Adjust Servings Here: 4 servings
Chana dal is an easy and healthy split chickpeas curry made with Indian spices and herbs. This is gluten-free and vegan too. Serve it over white rice and pickle for a wholesome meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Chana dal or split chickpeas soaked for 30 mins in hot water
  • 1 tbsp Ghee
  • 1 tbsp Cooking oil
  • ¼ tsp Asafoetida or hing (optional)
  • 4 Curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 large Onion finely chopped
  • 2 large Garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 3-inch Fresh ginger grated
  • 2 med Chilies red or green roughly chopped
  • 2 large Tomatoes chopped
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder (or cayenne)
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • ½ tsp Cumin powder
  • ½ tsp Garam masala
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • ½ tsp Black pepper powder
  • ½ cup Freshly chopped cilantro or parsley

Instructions

  • Rinse/soak – Make sure to wash the dal a few times in running water to take away any impurities. for the best texture to your dal, soak the chana dal (split chickpeas) in hot water for at least 30 minutes. You can also soak it overnight in regular tap water.
  • Saute – In a pressure cooker over medium heat on a stovetop or electric Instant Pot on saute mode, add the ghee, oil, and asafoetida. Then, saute the onions, garlic, ginger, chilies, and curry leaves until the onions are translucent.
    1 tbsp Ghee, 1 tbsp Cooking oil, ¼ tsp Asafoetida or hing, 4 Curry leaves, 1 large Onion, 2 large Garlic cloves, 1 3-inch Fresh ginger, 2 med Chilies
  • Spices – Next, add the turmeric powder, and spices along with the chopped tomatoes. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes until the onions are almost mushy and the spices give out a nice fragrance.
    Pro tip– keep the heat to medium or low to prevent the spices from burning. If necessary add a few tablespoons of water too.
    2 large Tomatoes, ½ tsp Turmeric powder, 1 tsp Kashmiri chili powder, 1 tsp Coriander powder, ½ tsp Cumin powder, ½ tsp Garam masala
  • Dal – Next, add the soaked, drained chana dal (split peas) and saute for 2 to 3 minutes until well coated with the spices. Season with salt and pepper.
    1 cup Chana dal or split chickpeas, 1 tsp Salt, ½ tsp Black pepper powder
  • Pressure cook – Add 3 cups of water or stock.
    Cover the pressure cooker with its lid and add the whistle. Cook on medium heat for 4 to 5 whistles (and up to 7 whistles for a very soft dal). Let the steam release naturally.
    For the instant Pot turn the saute mode off and cover the pot with its lid, seal the vent, and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes followed by natural release.
    for Stovetop – it will take from 50 to 60 minutes depending on how long the lentils were soaked.
  • Garnish – When done open the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro or parsley. Serve with fresh basmati rice.
    ½ cup Freshly chopped cilantro

Recipe Notes

  • Lentils and pulses are stored for months in sacks and storage facilities which is why rinsing them more than a few times in running water is very very important. 
  • Soaking the lentils will ensure that the dal is softened which gives a better texture to the dal as compared to a grainy texture when you cook unsoaked 
  • Some people like dal soft while others like to see the individual grains (al dante) as I have done today. So adjust the cooking time to suit your preference. 
  • The quality of your lentils and legumes will often determine the cooking time. Older dal may take a few minutes longer to cook which is why soaking is very important. 
  • This is an easier, fuss-free recipe to make dal in one pot. Traditionally, dal is often soaked and cooked in water in a pressure cooker without any spices or seasoning. Then, a tadka (tempering) is prepared and added to the dal just before serving. This was an easier way to prepare large quantities of lentils and save them for later use. 
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust the species to make it spicer. 
  • You can also add diced vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, spinach, etc to the dal to make it more nutritious 
  • For restaurant-style dal – add up to 4 tbsp of ghee! 
  • Once the dal is ready, you can add more water if required to adjust consistency. Similarly, if you prefer it thicker, just cook on high for a few minutes until the excess water evaporates. 

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Nutrition Information
Calories: 254kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 600mg | Potassium: 321mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1090IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 116mg | Iron: 3mg

The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you

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