Bengali Style Chana Dal (Cholar Dal/ Split Chickpeas Lentils)
Last Friday I worked from home, and after finishing my early morning meeting, while making myself some coffee, I saw my slow cooker on the countertop. The best thing about crockpot cooking is it can be left itself cook unattended while you continue with other important works. The food will be ready in due course in the background without demanding too much attention. So I decided to cook Cholar dal, one of the comfort food in Bengali Cuisine. In most households, it is a must dish when you invite guests. It goes perfectly well with Bengali Style Polao or white steamed rice. But it is at its best when paired with Luchi (Poori). I remember for a short period of time when we moved back to Bangalore, we would look forward to our weekends. There is a famous Bengali Sweet store chain called “K.C Das Sweets” and they served Luchi and Cholar Dal for breakfast every weekend. My father-in-law first discovered it, and then on it became a weekend ritual for us till we move back to the US. I still miss that amazing breakfast.
Now to recreate that experience at your home is not that hard. This recipe is one of those flexible ones which you can tune-up or down depending on the occasions, your taste buds and other constraints. The original traditional recipe includes sliced coconut fried in oil with some seasoning, added into the Dal towards the end to enhance the taste. But my kids do not like the interference of coconut slices, and I too prefer to cut that extra step as it is optional for me too.
I started the slow cooker in the early morning with some washed dal and water, added some salt and turmeric and left it alone. The fact that there isn’t any urgency for cooking with a crockpot is great. On my next break, I checked the salt, added some ginger and sugar. I adjusted the taste and went back to work again. In fact, I got stuck debugging some build issues at work and forgot about it, but thankfully with a slow cooker, the dish cannot get overcooked, and when I got back my dal was ready for the finishing touch. After adding some tampering and it is ready to be served. I had late lunch with some steamed rice and enjoyed thoroughly in the evening with instant poori.
Here is some information on Chana dal. It is the split brown chickpeas lentils. It has the same earthy, nutty flavor of the brown chickpeas. It is a very healthy lentils that have a lot of antioxidants, a high amount of potassium, and a low amount of sodium which helps in regulating blood pressure. This lentil has a lot of good food value, so try to add that in your meal once in a while.
This recipe has few ingredients and very easy to make. If you are planning to cook it in Instant Pot or Pressure cooker, you can start from the end. That is, tampering the dal first and then add the washed dal and water, with other ingredients and start the cooker.
10 minPrep Time
3 hrCook Time
3 hr, 10 Total Time
- 2 Cups of Chana Dal
- 5 Cups of Water
- 1 tbsp Salt (as per taste)
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1/2 tsp Sugar
- 1 tsp Ginger paste
- 1 tbsp Raisins
- 3 Green Chillies slited
- 1 Bay leaf
- 2 Dried Red Chillies
- 2 Cardamom
- 1 small stick Cinnamon
- 2 Cloves
- 1 tsp Clarified Butter (Ghee)
- 1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
- Start slow cooker on High
- Add washed Chana Dal and water
- Add salt, turmeric powder, ginger, green chillies, whole spices (Cardamom, cloves, cinnamon)
- Add sugar, adjust taste
- Slow cook on high for 2 hours (until Dal is cooked)
- In a separate pan, add butter
- Add cumin seeds, whole red chillies, and bay leaf
- wait to splatter
- Mix it in the dal, let it cook for another 30 mins.
You can make this dal in Instant Pot as well. Start by heating the butter, and adding the cumin seeds, red chillies, and bay leaf. Once it starts splattering, add dal and the rest of the ingredients. Cook in manual setting for 2 mins on high pressure. Dal is ready to be served!