This Bengali Cholar Dal is nutty with chana dal, mong dah or split chickpeas, and it has an assertive but exquisite sweetness from coconut and raisins. It's a delicious, unique and comforting dal that's usually served at celebratory meals, but its simplicity makes it a great weeknight recipe. Perfect for transitioning from winter to spring or experimenting with a rather unique recipe for delicious dal. Full of low glycaemic index ingredients, it will keep you full during the day. The smell and benefits of healing spices are endless, too.
- 1 cup chana dal
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 6 cloves
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 1- inch stick cinnamon
- 2 dry red chili peppers(broken into pieces or left whole)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- ¼ cup fresh or dried coconut (cut into slivers of small pieces. If you can't source this, see recipe notes for how to substitute with coconut milk.)
- ¼ cup dried sultanas
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons jaggery or coconut sugar/ raw sugar
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- Salt to taste
Wash the lentils. Add turmeric powder and bay leaves. If you are using an Instant Pot, cook the lentils with 3 cups of water on manual pressure for 10 minutes. If using a saucepan, soak the lentils for several hours first. Discard the water, add fresh water to cover the lentils by a couple of inches, and bring to a boil. Let the lentils cook at a simmer, covered until they are soft and tender but are still holding their shape.
In a saucepan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, and when they sputter, add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks and red chilli peppers. Sauté a minute until the cardamom looks puffy, then add the slivers of coconut, if using, and sauté until the coconut is lightly golden brown. Watch carefully because coconut can burn quickly.
Add the raisins and ginger, and sauté for 30 seconds, then the coriander and cumin powder. Mix.
Pour in the cooked lentils or dal with a cup of cooking stock or water. Mix well and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and let the lentils simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the jaggery or coconut sugar and mix it in. Follow with the garam masala. Mix well and let the dal simmer for five more minutes. It should have a rather thick consistency with little visible liquid. Serve hot with steamed rice, roti or naan bread.
Find all your ingredients in-stores or online! Enjoy