How to cook chana dal

General directions for cooking chana dal
– just plain chana dal to use in recipes that call for cooked chana dal

This recipe is for 3 cups of uncooked (about 8 cups of cooked) chana dal. I like to make a lot of chana dal at one time and freeze what I don’t use right away.

3 cups uncooked chana dal
cold tap water (for rinsing)
6 cups cold tap water (for cooking)
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bircarbonate)

Step I: Inspect and pick over chana dal
Inspect the chana dal for foreign matter. Discard foreign matter and grey shriveled-looking chana dal, if any.

Step II: Rinse chana dal
Place the chana dal into a strainer (or small collander) and place the strainer into a large bowl. Fill the bowl with cold tap water and, using your hands, mix the dal around; discard the rinse water. Repeat this rinsing process 3 or 4 times until the water runs almost clear. Discard the final rinse water out of the bowl.

Rinsed and drained chana dal – ready for cooking

Step III: Soak chana dal
Place the strainer with the rinsed chana dal back into the empty bowl and add cold tap water to cover the chana dal with 2 – 3 inches of water. Let the chana dal soak at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.  Then remove the strainer with the dal from the water in which it was soaking. Discard the water.

Step IV: Add water, baking soda and cook
Place the chana dal that has been soaked and drained into a large pot, and add 6 cups of cold tap water to the pot. Add the baking soda and mix it around with a large spoon.

Bring the water to a boil and then turn the heat down to gentle boil (almost a simmer). Gently boil for 10-12 minutes, uncovered, or until the chana dal is cooked through but not mushy.  Note: While cooking the chana dal and water mixture will froth quite a bit, but that’s OK.

Chana dal cooking – lots of froth at first
Chana dal cooking – less froth later

Yeild: About 8 cups cooked chana dal and some liquid you can use in cooking or making soups.

Storage: Store your cooked chana dal in your refrigerator or in freezer.

Why baking soda?
Adding some baking soda when cooking beans or dal (split beans) is traditional in many South Asian recipes. It helps soften the bean/dal in less time than it would take without the baking soda. In my experience, the baking soda cuts the cooking time in half. Also adding baking soda, makes the resulting food more alkaline-producing and there is scientific evidence that this is good for bones.  I am NOT saying that you should start ingesting baking soda to help prevent osteoporosis! But it you are interested to learn more about an alkaline- vs. acid- producing diet and its effect on bones, see:  Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century. Starting on page 349 of this American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article, you will find a short discussion of the health implications of an acid- vs. alkaline-producing diet.

Recipes for chana dal: 

Chana dal purée for use in lots of different recipes. I love this recipe and since posting it to my blog, I’ve used it over and over. These days I freeze the chana dal puree in silicon muffin pans and then pop the frozen muffins out and into a freezer bag. Very nice way to add a little chana dal to this or that recipe, as needed!

My Pinterest collection of dal recipes — includes some with chana dal. And you can adapt the others to include chana dal!

Enjoy and be healthy!


8 thoughts on “How to cook chana dal

  1. Leni – What a fabulous blog you have created over the years. I am inspired to try several of your recipes. Thanks for being so thorough!!

    1. Hi, I haven’t tried that. But it sounds reasonable. There’s also BESAN flour made from chickpeas which can be used to make a batter. However besan flower is made from the common chickpea, not from chana dal. ~Leni

  2. I’ve seen black bean pasta in the store and the ingredients are only black beans and water. Do you think you would be able to make pasta from chana dahl? Could you process the dry beans to make flour to bind the cooked beans?

    1. Indian stores sell besam, which is flour made from dried chick peas, as far as I understand. I would love to buy flour made from chana dal! But can’t find a source. Making your own would be great. Please tell us how when you do! And about using chana dal to make pasta, sorry, but that’s not something I know anything about.

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