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Channa dal & patties

March 9, 2010

I’ve been looking for ways to get more protein in my diet and wanted to include more vegetarian ways to achieve that. As a result, I’ve been making a lot of Lentils, Pulses and beans lately, and I’ve been learning so much about them. The Channa Daal is one such protein source that I’ve truly come to enjoy. I remember having it as roasted, in a spicy Indian snack called Chivda, but hardly had the chance to enjoy it as a meal. I finally got down to making it the other day and thought of sharing it here. On further research, I learned that the Chana dal is incredibly nutritious for diabetics. Read about it here.

Chana dal takes longer to cook than other types of Dals so I strongly recommend using a pressure cooker for this recipe. The dal can also be cooked in a heavy-bottomed pot.

My recipe is lightly spiced and fragrant with the aromas of cumin seeds and curry leaves.  The dal is cooked in oil along with some ghee (clarified butter) to aid digestion. Enjoy it with some hot Roti’s (Indian flatbread) and a bowl of Raita (Indian spiced yogurt). Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Spiced Chana dal

Spiced Chana dal

Chana dal / Split chickpeas

Chana dal / Split chickpeas

You will need:

  • 3 tbsp oil + 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 cups Channa dal or Split Chickpeas, washed well and soaked for 2 hours (NOTE: If not using a pressure cooker, soak the dal overnight.

    • Update: Make sure to soak the dal in a large bowl / utensil as the chana dal tends to expand considerably if soaked overnight (All credit to Mehnaz for pointing this out)
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 3-4 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger & garlic paste (available as a mixed paste in Indian grocery stores)
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp Dhania-Zeera powder (Cumin & Coriander powder – available as a mixed spice in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp Garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water if cooking in a pressure cooker (more needed if cooking in a pot)
  • A large handful of chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon for garnishing


  • In a large pot, or pressure cooker, heat the oil on medium-high heat
  • Once well heated, add the mustard and cumin seeds, with the curry leaves
  • As soon as the seeds start to splutter, add the chopped onions and chopped garlic
  • Cook till onions are translucent and soft
  • Add the ginger & garlic paste, and allow to cook for 30 seconds
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they are soft too
  • Finally, add all the dry spices and cook them in the tomat0 + onion paste till the oil starts to leave the mixture
  • Drain off all water from the soaked Chana dal and add to the pot / pressure cooker
  • Add salt to taste and mix well
  • If cooking in a pressure cooker, add 1.5 cups water, close the lid and allow 3 whistles. If cooking in a pot, cook the dal, uncovered on medium heat, till they are soft but not mushy. Add hot water to the pot every time it needs more
  • Once the pressure cooker has cooled down, slowly open the lid and check if the dal is cooked. It should be soft to bite but not mushy
    • Cook for one more whistle, after adding some more water, if you feel the dal is still raw.
  • Finally, garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice
  • Serve with hot Roti’s or Paratha’s

What to do with leftover chana dal

I once made too much dal by mistake and didn’t have the heart to throw it away and came up with this recipe for chana dal patties. The patties are a perfect evening snack or party appetizer. My version is tangy, spicy and as one would say back home – “Chatpata!” (really mouth watering)

Chana dal patties

Chana dal patties

Simply re-cook the dal till mushy. Mash it together with some boiled potatoes and about 1 tbsp of all-purpose flour, for every cup of daal. Add more flour if you feel the mixture is too paste-y. Add about 1 tsp of Chaat masala, some more salt, some chopped onions and scallions and mix well. Make small flat patties, shallow fry them in some vegetable oil, and serve with some green chutney. Yum-O!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2010 2:07 pm

    This looks Yummy, Sab.

    I find that if you soak the channa daal overnight, it cooks much faster. But if you do, remember to put it in a rather bigger bowl because it also has a habit of expanding in water 🙂

    • March 10, 2010 2:27 pm

      Thanks for the tip Mehnaz! I’m updating the blog. 🙂


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