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.
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 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), its split form is used to make lentil 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.
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 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 at least one hour before cooking it in a normal pot. It will take around 40-45 minutes to cook it in a normal pot.
More, vegan lentil recipes:
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How to make Chana dal?
- 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
- 1/4 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 the chana dal and put in a pressure cooker with water, turmeric powder, and salt. Mix, cover the lid and cook till 3 whistles on medium flame.
- In a pot, heat some oil and add all the dry whole spices. Once the spices turn fragrant, add chopped onions and fry till they start becoming golden brown.
- Next, add the tomatoes, green chilies, ginger, and coriander powder. Cook till tomatoes turn mushy.
- Add the boiled lentil and simmer for around 5 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with roti or rice.