Saturday, May 26, 2012

Chunky Chana Dal

This is a delicious but simple dal - great with rice or other grains, roti, and/or by itself.  We love the nutty taste of the chana dal which is really split and decorticated (skin removed) chick pea! I believe that it is made from the brown Indian chick pea rather than the golden type known as Kabuli chana or garbanzo bean. Chana dal (unlike mung or masoor dal) retains its shape and does not easily cook up mushy; hence the name 'chunky' :-).  I used a pressure cooker to cook this dal; it is a great tool to cook all dals, whole beans and grains quickly.

Notes: This is a versatile dal that changes its flavor based on the spices used - instead of the mustard and cumin seeds, substitute 1 tsp of panch phoron for a lively but different taste; or saute some leeks/onions after the thalippu is made and stir in some tomatoes before adding the dal.  Yellow or green split peas may be used instead of chana dal; one or the other dals may be omitted or used in any combination.  Any way you make it, it is delicious!


1 cup Chana dal
1/4 cup Yellow Mung Dal
1/4 cup Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt
2-4 Tbsp fresh Cilantro, chopped (optional)

2 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
1-2 Hot Green chiles (Serrano or Jalapeno), cut into quarters lengthwise (for a mild dish, remove the core from the chiles) or minced
2 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, minced
1 Stem fresh Curry leaves


Sort, wash and cook the dals in fresh water to cover until soft; the other dals with be creamy but chana will retain its shape as long as it is not overcooked. 

Prepare the thalippu:  Heat the oil and add the seeds; when they pop and dance, reduce the heat a little and add the rest of the thalippu ingredients in the order given.

When the chiles soften a little, add the cooked dal, turmeric, salt, and additional water if necessary and bring to a boil. 

Remove from heat and cover and allow to rest until serving time.

Remove the chiles from the dal (if they are in big pieces) before serving so as to prevent anyone biting into them unawares! They do look like green beans to the unwary innocent! (We love the flavor and eat the chiles along with the dal.)

Serve hot sprinkled with the cilantro.  Enjoy!!


doeyama said...

Hi, Geetha! Can't wait to try this recipe out... I was wondering if you have any suggestions for getting fresh curry leaves? Thank you! Bon Apetite!

Geetha said...

Hi Doe, Curry leaves are available in Indian and some Asian as well as International markets; but dried leaves from the market are insipid and not worth buying. You can still make a very good dish without the curry leaves if they are unavailable. Happy cooking!