Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Feb 18, 2010 06:51 AM

What do you do with chana dal?

I bought about a pound of chana dal from the bulk bin at Whole Foods last week, without any sort of plan for it . . . just sounded like something fun to play with!

I'm talking about this pulse, not larger-sized garbanzo beans:

The above website has a list of recipes to try, but I thought I'd poll you all to see what chowhounds do with this ingredient.

Thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Chana dal the pulse (or dal) is the split version of the small black garbanzo bean (kala chana).

      Chana dal is one of the staples in my pantry. I love its taste and the way it works with other ingredients (e.g. other dals and spices).

      I use it in three ways:

      1. As a spice (chana and/or urad dals are used in South Indian tarkas and add a nutty aroma to the dish).
      e.g.: potato sabzi (the kind that's typically used in stuffing dosas):
      i) Cut up and partially cook about 3 large potatoes with salt and turmeric. If you are watching carbs, you could innovate by replacing some of the potatoes with cauliflower, but then adjust the cooking times. ii) finely dice 1 small onion. iii) tarka: heat 1 tbsp oil in the bottom of a wok or skillet, add: 1/4 tsp hing, 1 tsp black/brown mustard seeds, 1 tsp chana dal. When the mustard seeds pop and the chana dal looks golden brown, add 2 small hot green chillies minced, 1 inch ginger minced, 5-6 curry leaves, pinched.
      iv) toast these spices a minute or so, then add the onions. Saute for a minute or so until starting to get soft then add the half-cooked vegetables. Add a little water to get a head of steam, then cover the vessel and turn the heat down and cook till done (Stir from time to time).

      2. Soaked and ground: e.g. in dosai-like dishes like adai
      e.g.: soak 1/3 cup chana dal; 1/3 cup urad dal, 1/3 cup masoor or toor dalwith a pinch of fenugreek seeds for a few hours. Grind to a coarse batter with salt, and a handful of chopped greens if you want. Make thin crepe or pancake type things, eat with coconut chutney.

      3. Make actual dal with it. There are many recipes on the net (I didn't look at the link you posted), but here is a recipe that sounds good to me:

      One pound of chana dal would disappear within 2 weeks from my pantry :


      All best with it, and do tell what you made :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Rasam

        One more idea:

        Can't you make western style split-pea soup with chana dal?

      2. I love chana daal with a passion, too.

        Chana daal is my usual daal for daal +plus veg or daal +plus meat combo daal, like in spinach daal, bottle gourd daal, mutton plus daal combo type recipes.

        I make a couple of daily daals with them: just a basic wet daal with a tempering, or have them in a firm and dry preparation: soak for one hour then boil and simmer on low for twenty minutes and strain and you have them whole, season them with a tempering or with a melted down tomato onion garlic ginger spice fry as seasoning.

        I also use the same firm cooked method mentioned above (they freeze well like this, too) for chana daal pilaf (chana pullao which is vegetarian), kabuli pullao with chicken, and also use the whole ones in ground meat plus daal combo (qeema chanay).

        Chana daal is also the daal cooked with protein for shaami kabaabs.

        I've never experimented much with them in Western type cooking, but I can imagine they would taste good in a salad (firm cooked) or cooked with stock and pureed as a soup.

        1. I love to make dhokla from scratch with chana daal. (I am not a Gujarati, so I don't know if this is *the authentic* dhokla recipe. However, in my mom's kitchen this was called dhokla.) Soak a cup of chana daal in plenty of water. Drain. Using a little yogurt or buttermilk (say 1/4 cup?), grind to a medium coarse texture - not very coarse where the daal is barely broken into 3 or 4 pieces and not very fine like fine cornmeal. Probably about the texture of semolina or coarse cornmeal. You want to aim for a thick pancake batter. Let this sit overnight or about 8 hours on the counter at room temperature to ferment. When ready to cook, add grated ginger and garlic to taste, salt and a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of baking soda. (I can get you more precise measurements in a day or two.) Grease a mold of some form that can sit in a water bath on the stove top. I use my Indian pressure cooker and idli steaming plates. You could use a bunch of ramekins in a wide covered sautepan, or a 8-9" cake pan in a 10" or wider sautepan. Spoon batter to about an inch high into the greased mold and set into a sautepan of simmering water and steam for 10+ minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 5 minutes and then cut into bite sized squares with a sharp oiled knife. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil to almost smoking in the smallest pot you can find. Add a teaspoon of black/brown mustard seeds and a teaspoon of sesame seeds and a pinch of asafoetida (heeng) if you have it. Seeds must pop. Turn off heat and pour this tadka over the dhokla squares. Add a handful of chopped cilantro and 2 tablespoons of fresh grated coconut and toss everything together. Serve with a cilantro chutney and maybe a sweet and sour tamarind chutney. This is a very healthy afternoon snack or even breakfast. You can reduce the amount of oil used for tadka.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sweetTooth

            Oh man! I love love love bottle gourd dal (LuckyF can you please share your recipe), shami kababs (I make veggie versions these days) and dhoklas. I just finished dinner but am getting hungry again.

            Another idea: grind 1-2 tbsp of the dal fine (to basically make besan), and then toast that till it's golden and aromatic, and sprinkle when you are sauteeing vegetables. I think this is a quasi-Maharashtrian technique (someone else can comment?)

            1. re: Rasam

              In Urdu-speaking Muslim cooking roasted chana (whole with skin on) is used to perfume and bind minced meat and give it a silky texture in a lot of dishes. I haven't seen it in veggies, but it is used in koftay, dam ka qeema, and galawati kabaabs, for example.

              I had an Urdu speaking Bangalorean house keeper before and she would use these roasted channay in her green chutney: she would slightly blacken green chiles on a griddle, use coconut, lots of coriander, salt, lemon juice, and the roasted skin on whole channay and grind it. Lip smacking stuff. A friend of mine told me that roasted channay are used in other types of chutney and called "chutney channay" but I wasn't sure if she meant the skin on roasted or hulled and split.

              I like roasted skin on channay just as a snack as well.

              1. re: Rasam

                Rasam how do you make veg. shaami kabaabs?

                Bottle Gourd and Channa daal recipe:

                1 small-medium bottle gourd cut into large-ish bite size chunks
                1/2 cup channa daal soaked for one hour in water
                1 tsp cumin seeds
                1 tsp garlic paste
                1 tsp ginger paste
                1 tsp or so red chile powder
                1 tsp coriander powder
                2 tomatoes chopped finely
                salt to taste
                about 1 cup water
                1 pinch garam masala
                2-3 tbs oil

                Heat oil in pot and add cumin seeds. When they sizzle add in the ginger garlic paste and let this cook for a moment, add in the tomatoes and all powdered masalas except garam masala, when the oil rises up from the tomatos, add in the bottle gourd and stir around a bit to fry. Strain the soaked lentils and throw them in. Toss around for a bit, then add in your water and salt. Let boil and cook on low heat till lentils are tender and bottle gourd is cooked, about 30 mins or so. When it is done, add in the garam masala.

            2. Wow, thanks for all these suggestioins, everyone! I never would have thought of using them to add nutty flavor to vegetable dishes. And the idea of a chana pullao is very appealing.