Breakfast, lunch, dinner—this is a dal recipe for all occasions.
Every family has its own the classic Bengali chholar dal recipe. In fact, the Bengali culinary tradition is replete with easy dal recipes for every occasion. This is the niramish or vegetarian version of the Bengali chholar (or chholar) dal, prepared without onions or garlic. Hing (asafoetida) supplies the necessary sharpness that one would generally get from the use of onions. The best part about this warm, mellow, delicious coconut-and-raisin (narkel aar kishmish) strewn chholar dal? It can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, with rice, polao, luchi, kochuri or porota! It doesn’t get more versatile than this. Master this Bengali chholar dal recipe and it is sure to become the secret weapon in your culinary arsenal for when you are looking for an impressive, yet quick, easy, Bengali vegetarian dal preparation.
In this video recipe, we show you how to make chholar dal (or chana dal, as it is known in Hindi) that has the perfect balance of sweet and savoury flavours, and the right consistency and texture. Although this preparation is a Bengali classic, other parts of India, and Pakistan and Bangladesh, too, enjoy their own versions of this delicious and nutritious chana dal.
- 200 g chhola or chana dal (split Bengal gram)
- 20 g coconut (thinly sliced)
- 20 g raisins
- 20 g mustard oil
- 1 pc cinnamon
- 5 pcs cardamom
- 3 pcs cloves
- 4 pcs bay leaves
- 2 pcs dried red chillies
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ¼ tsp hing (asafoetida)
- 30 g ginger paste
- 2 g turmeric powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- 3 g cumin powder
- 6 pcs green chillies (slit)
- ¼ tsp Bengali garam masala
- 5 g ghee
- 18 g salt
- 24 g sugar
- 700 g water
- Rinse the chhola’r dal well and soak it in water for at least 2 hours. After this time, strain the dal and transfer it to a boiling pot or pressure cooker. Add 700 g water, 6 g salt, and the bay leaves. Boil the dal until it is tender, but the grains are still whole. The texture of this dish will depend a whole lot on how well the dal is boiled. We want each grain of lentil to be perfectly cooked, but not turned to mush. On medium heat, our chhola’r dal cooks to the desired doneness in 2 whistles. The time may vary for you.
- Before you begin cooking, make a spice slurry by mixing together the ginger paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and 50 g water. Also, slice the coconut and slit the green chillies.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan (on medium heat) and once it starts to smoke lightly and changes colour to a pale yellow, add the thinly sliced coconut. Fry until the coconut turns golden brown. This should take about a minute. Remove from the oil and set aside.
- Temper the same oil with the dried red chillies, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and cumin seeds. Stir in the hing, allowing it to fry for about 10 seconds.
- Add the spice slurry we made earlier to the pan. Fry on medium heat until the raw smell of the spices is gone. This should take about 6 minutes. Add the slit green chillies and raisins, and continue frying until you see oil leaving the sides of the spice mixture.
- Now add the boiled dal along with the water to the pan. (If you feel there’s a lot of excess water with the dal, reserve some in a bowl.)
- Add the remaining salt (12 g) and allow the dal to bubble until it thickens (about 6 to 8 minutes). Depending on how soft or hard your dal is, you may have to adjust the flame and water accordingly. For example, if your dal is still slightly hard, boil on low heat, adding water to maintain consistency, until it is cooked. If it is on the softer, mushier side (first of all, you need to make note of where you went wrong and try correcting the boiling time on your next attempt!), turn up the flame to thicken the dal quickly.
- Pick out a softened green chilli from the dal, mash it with the back of a spoon and add it back to the dal. Add the sugar and bubble for about a minute before stirring in the ghee, Bengali garam masala, and fried coconut. Allow the dal to rest, covered, for 2 minutes before serving.