Tag Archives: dal

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!


Quick and Delicious Dal

Tandoor Chef’s Dal Rajasthani

I had company coming for dinner the other night, but had no time to cook the chana dal recipe that I had planned to make. So I simply combined a few packages of Tandoori Chef’s Dal Rajasthani with some plain cooked chana dal. Delicious!

Plain Cooked Chana Dal

At the table, each person topped his or her dal with chopped fresh onion, chopped fresh tomato, and chopped fresh cilantro. We also passed the Cilantro  Chutney for those who wanted a bit more spiciness.

Tandoor Chef’s Channa Dal (available at Whole
Foods and some supermarkets in the frozen food section)

Ingredient list:
water, split lentils (moong, toor, channa, urad & masoor dals), onions, diced tomatoes (tomatoes, tomato juice, salt, citric acid, calcium chloride), canola oil, spices, tomato pasts (tomato past, water, salt, citric acid), garlic, sea salt, turmeric, curry leaves, fenugreek leaves, oleoresin of paprika, bay leaves.

Nutrition information, per 5 ounce serving:
6 grams fat
0 grams saturated fat
0 mg cholesterol
470 mg sodium
14 g carbohydrate
5 g protein

And…after you mix the Tandoor Chef dal with your plain cooked chana dal, you end up with a delicious dal that’s lower in fat and sodium and has a lower glycemic index than Tandoor Chef’s Rajasthani Dal. So easy! So delicious! And so nutritious!

Enjoy and be healthy!

Desi Chickpea Recipes — with my comments and changes


Showmethecurry.com’s Kala Chana Curry
I just made this Kala Chana or Black Chick Pea Curry and loved it – but that was with some changes. So here’s how I changed their recipe to make the dish we loved:

  • Instead of using a pressure cooker to cook the black (whole) desi chana, I used the crock pot method described on the Mendosa page (see yellow highlighted box, “Preparing and Seasoning Chana Dal” found at bottom of the webpage.) Note: Since in this Desi Chickpea recipe, we are cooking the whole bean, not the split bean (chana dal), I prefer to soak the desi chickpea overnight in cold water, drain the water, and then cook the soaked desi chickpea per the directions given for cooking in the slow cooker on the Mendosa website.
  • I used twice as much: asafoetida, ginger, and garlic.
  • I used 4 times as much turmeric (1 teaspoon instead of 1/4 teaspoon) and I added 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. (For why turmeric and black pepper should always be used together, see Monamifood: Why turmeric and black pepper .)
  • I used 1/4 more garam masala (1 1/4 teaspoons instead of 1 teaspoon)
  • I used half as much salt.
  • I used canned organic diced tomatoes instead of pureed tomatoes, and when I added the tomatoes to the dish, I smashed the tomatoes with a potato masher. It worked fine.
  • I did not cook the tomato mixture down “until the oil separates from the mixture,” because I thought I might burn the mixture and my pan, so I just cooked it down until there was very little liquid left.
  • Note: The showmethecurry.com recipe calls for chili powder, but they must be referring to red chile powder (ground red chiles), not chili powder (a mixture of ground spices used to make American style chili).

At the table, we passed chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped fresh onions, and chopped fresh cilantro so everyone could mix these into their curry as they liked. This mixture of cooked and fresh ingredients made the dish superb.

  • Note: Early in the harvest season, onions are relatively sweet and when they have been stored a long time, they become sharp. If you want to take the edge off of sharp onions, just soak the chopped onions in cold filtered water for 15 minutes and then drain well.

I like serving this desi chickpea curry with (or over) steamed kale and along with slices of baked sweet potatoes. If you want rice, then a little brown basmati rice would be my choice. I also like to serve this with Monamifood’s Cilantro Sauce (chutney).

Vegetable Platter Blog’s Chana Dal Tadka
This is a really delicious dish! I will definitely make it again!

I made this recipe with the following changes and specific ingredients:

  • The green chiles I used were green finger hot chiles (a chile that’s common to Indian cooking).
  • I used the seeds of 2 green cardamom pods (not the whole pods).
  • The cinnamon stick I used was Ceylon cinnamon (which is soft and can be ground up as specified in the recipe).
  • Instead of cashew nuts I used walnuts (because they are a good source of the pre-cursor to omega-3 fatty acids).
  • Instead of ghee I used canola oil.
    I used less red chile powder (only 1/2 teaspoon) instead of 2 teaspoons red chilli powder (by which I think the recipe writer must have meant red chile powder).
  • I added freshly ground black pepper because I always use it in combination with turmeric.
  • I “ground” the mixture in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. And next time I make this recipe, I will be sure to process the mixture until the pieces of cinnamon have become tiny. (I left a few big pieces this time and just removed them before serving.)

Enjoy and be healthy!