Mamta's Kitchen

Chana Dal (Split Bengal Gram) Lentil

Chana Dal Dhuli

Reeta Kumar

There are many different lentils eaten in India. Each takes slightly different time to cook. If you eat lentils regularly, I would recommend buying a pressure cooker. It makes cooking much quicker and easier. The water required and cooking times given here is average but do remember that there are many variants in cooking. For example, quality of the lentil, softness of water, whether the dal was soaked beforehand (soaked dals take a little less time to cook), the intensity of heat and the efficiency of your pressure cooker. It will get easier as you cook more dals. Remember that if undercooked, you can cook a dal some more but you can't do anything with overcooked dal. It does not taste bad if overcooked, only looks are not as good. Serves 4


  • 200 gm. or 1 cup skinless chana dal or Split Bengal Gram

  • 3 cups water. (use more if not using pressure cooker)

  • Salt to taste (1-1 1/2 tsp.)

  • 1/2tsp. turmeric powder

  • For basic tarka (for other types of tarka, see notes below):

  • 2-3 tbsp. ghee or sunflower or olive oil. Ghee tastes better but oil is healthier.

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • A large pinch of asafoetida or hing powder

  • 2-3 whole red chillies broken up

  • 1/2 tsp. chilli powder

  • A handful of chopped coriander leaves


  1. Wash dal well and soak in water for a couple of hours.

  2. Drain this water off before cooking.

  3. Cooking in Pressure cooker

  4. Place the dal, 3 cups water, salt and turmeric in the pressure cooker and bring to boil, until you hear a hissing sound. Cook under pressure for 5-6 minutes.

  5. Allow pressure cooker to cool before opening.

  6. Open the lid and check water. If too thick, add a little boiling water until it reaches the consistency you desire.

  7. Cooking without a pressure cooker

  8. Place the dal, 5-6 cups water, salt and turmeric in a pan and bring to boil. Now simmer briskly until tender. If the dal begins to look too thick and dry, you may need to add more water through the cooking process.

  9. Dals, when ready, should be soft but not mashed.

  10. Stir in coriander leaves.

  11. Place in a serving bowl.

  12. Basic tarka or tempering:

  13. Heat ghee or oil in a tarka ladle (ladle can be bought from an Indian store) or a small pan. Ghee tastes better but oil is healthier.

  14. Add cumin and asafoetida powder and let the seeds start to splutter.

  15. Add whole chillies and chillies powder, stir with a small spoon, add to the cooked dal and cover with a lid. This will infuse the flavours into the dal and stop the dal from splashing out during tempering.

  16. Other variations of tarka or tempering:

  17. Use mustard seeds instead of cumin seeds.

  18. After spluttering the cumin/mustard seeds, add a little grated ginger and/or garlic to the hot oil, fry until beginning to turn golden brown. Add chillies and chilli powder. Now add to the dal. Or

  19. After spluttering the cumin/mustard seeds, add one chopped onion, 1 tsp. each of grated ginger and garlic, and fry until browned. Add 1 tsp. curry powder or sambhar powder and 2 chopped tomatoes. Fry a little longer and add to dal.

  20. Serve with Chapatties and Boiled Rice.

  21. Also see Dal Selection.


  • Other points about dals:

  • Overcooked or leftover dal can be added to roti or chapatti flour when making a dough. This makes delicious roti and paratha.

  • The amount of dal required per person depends on whether you are serving the dal with roti or with rice. Rice requires more dal.

  • You can add chopped coriander leaves to all dals as a garnish.

  • Healthy-option:

  • Use only 1-2 tsp. olive oil for tarka or tempering

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