The Chana Dal or chana dal fries recipe is a delicious spicy dal curry recipe that I usually make with chana dal (split chickpeas or gram of bengal). A low-fat, gluten-free (do not add asafoetida) and vegan dish.
Chana dal is high in fiber, a rich source of protein, and also a good option for people on a low-carb or diabetic-friendly diet.
Chana dal is also known as gram of bengal or split chickpeas. These lentils have a sweet and nutty taste. Chana dal comes from black chickpeas (kala chana). They are split and the outer casing is removed. These lentils are also grinded to make besan or gram flour.
The flavors and taste of this Chana dal fry are from North India and the preparation is similar to what we do in Punjabi households.
But most of the time, I cook this simple chana dal fries. Chana dal is best served with steamed basmati rice or jeera rice and a side of raita, kachumber (salad) or a side dish of vegetables. You can also serve it with rotis or naans with cucumber raita and papads.
For faster cooking of chana dal, it is best to soak them in water for an hour. You can cook the dal in a pressure cooker or in a saucepan. The chana dal should be cooked soft, so that these lentils can be easily digested.
How to make Chana Dal
With my step by step guide, learn how to easily prepare this healthy and tasty chana dal!
In this guide, I have shown the method of cooking lentils in a pressure cooker.
You can easily cook these lentils in a pan.
1. Pick and rinse 1 cup of chana dal under running water several times. Drain the water.
2. Soak the chana dal for one hour in enough water. If you have less time than for about 30 minutes, soak the lentils in hot water.
3. Later, drain the water.
4. Add the chana dal to a 3-liter pressure cooker. Also add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder.
5. Add about 2.5 to 3 cups of water.
6. Pressure cook the chana dal for about 10 to 11 minutes or 7 to 8 whistles over medium-high to high heat, until softened and cooked through.
7. When the pressure stabilizes on its own, remove the cover. Check whether the chana dal is well done or not. Cover and set the cooked lentils aside.
Making Chana Dal
8. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil or ghee in a pan. First add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds until they spit out.
9. Add 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic. About 4 to 5 finely chopped garlic cloves.
10. Fry until the garlic is lightly browned.
11. Now add ½ cup of chopped onions.
12. Stir and brown the onions.
13. Sauté the onions until golden brown.
14. Now add 1 cup of chopped tomatoes. About 2 medium tomatoes, chopped.
15. Add ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger and ½ teaspoon finely chopped green peppers.
16. Mix well.
17. Then add all the dry spice powders – ½ teaspoon dry mango powder, ½ teaspoon garam masala powder, ½ teaspoon red chili powder, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, a pinch of asafoetida (hing) and 1 teaspoon of coriander powder.
18. Mix well and continue to sauté.
19. Sauté until tomatoes are softened and fat begins to leave the side of the masala mixture.
20. Add the crushed kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) – 1 teaspoon of kasuri methi that has been crushed.
21. Mix and stir again.
22. Pour the cooked chana dal with its broth into the sautéed mixture. You can also add the stir-fried masala mixture to the cooked dal.
23. Stir very well. If the dal seems thick, add about ½ cup of water or more if needed.
24. Season with salt.
25. Stir and simmer the dal for 6 to 8 minutes until you get a medium consistency in the chana dal.
26. This dal is neither thick nor thin. But if you want you can keep the consistency thick. If you are serving chana dal with rice, a medium consistency is preferred. If you serve chana dal with roti or naan, you can get a slightly thick consistency.
27. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves. Instead of adding at this step, you can also garnish the chana dal fry with cilantro leaves, just before serving.
28. Finally, stir.
29. Serve the chana dal fry with roti or steamed basmati rice or cumin rice or saffron rice and a raita, salad or vegetable dish. You can also serve it with naan with cucumber raita and papad.