A delicious, flavorful, creamy lentil recipe, chana dal is made using split Bengal gram. The lentil is first cooked with salt and turmeric and then tempered with onions, tomatoes, and a few spices. This easy vegan and gluten-free recipe is perfect for protein rich meatless meals.
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A few years ago, I watched a documentary about Taj Mahal in which a very interesting story was shared. The story was about the Mughal emperor Shahjahan who built Taj Mahal.
As we all read in our history books, during the last 7-8 years of his life, Shahjahan was house arrested by his cynical son Aurangzeb who then declared himself the emperor.
However what new and interesting I learned from that documentary was that during those years of house arrest, Aurangzeb asked his father to choose one grain only which he would then be allowed to eat for the rest of his life.
Do you know what Shahjahan chose? He chose-chana (Bengal gram). A very well thought out decision because in India, chana is used in a lot of different forms and they all taste completely different.
Chana in its whole form is used to make curries (kale chane ka shorba), snacks, salads, its split form is used to make dal and the ground form is used to make chapatis and sweets. So it's not easy to get bored of chana.
And, today I am sharing the recipe of its split form which is used to make lentil – Chana dal.
It's one of my favorite lentil recipes and like most of the other Indian lentil recipes, it's very easy to make.
To make chana dal you need the following ingredients:
- Chana dal
- Onion: preferably red onion
- Green chili peppers: Chopped jalapeno can also be used
- Fresh coriander leaves
- Cooking oil/ ghee
- Bay lead
- Cumin seeds
- Black peppercorns
- Turmeric powder
- Red chili powder
- Coriander powder
Difference between Arhar dal (toor) and Chana dal
A lot of people get confused between Arhar also known as toor dal (split pigeon pea) and chana (split Bengal gram) as they look quite similar. Many times I also end up picking up the wrong packet of lentil while shopping in a hurry.
But, if you look properly, it’s easy to differentiate as chana dal is thicker than arhar dal.
You can clearly see the difference between these two lentils in the image below.
I love both of them. On days when I want to eat something light, I make arhar ki dal and if I want to eat something richer and more filling, I go for chana dal.
How to make chana dal?
- Wash the dal and put in a pressure cooker with water, salt, and turmeric. Cook until 3 whistles.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add bay leaf, cumin seeds, and peppercorns. Once the spices turn fragrant, add chopped onions and cook until they start turning brown.
- Add tomatoes, red chili powder, green chilies, ginger, and coriander powder. Mix and cook until the tomatoes turn mushy.
- Add boiled lentil and cook for around 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and enjoy.
How to make this dish without a pressure cooker?
Chana dal takes time to cook so generally a pressure cooker is used to make it. You can also use an instant pot to cook this lentil.
However, if you don’t have a pressure cooker or instant pot, soak chana dal in water for 3-4 hours before cooking it in a normal pot. It will take around 40-45 minutes to cook it in a normal pot.
More Indian lentil curry recipes
Looking for more ideas to cook lentils in Indian style? Don't miss to check the following lndian lentil curry recipes:
Step by step photo instructions
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- Pressure cooker/ pot
- 1 cup chana dal
- 1 medium-sized red onion finely chopped
- 1 medium-sized tomato finely chopped
- 2 green chilies finely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 bay leaf
- 3-4 peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder adjust as per taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt as per taste
- 1 tbsp mustard oil/ any other cooking oil
- 2 + 1/4 cups water
- Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
- Wash chana dal and put in a pressure cooker with water, turmeric powder, and salt. Mix, cover the lid, and cook until 3 whistles on medium flame.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add bay leaf, cumin seeds, and peppercorns. Once the spices turn fragrant, add chopped onions and cook until they start turning golden brown.
- Next, add tomatoes, red chili powder, green chilies, ginger, and coriander powder. Cook until the tomatoes turn mushy.
- Add boiled lentil and cook for around 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with roti or rice.