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Close picture of chana dal served in a bowl with coriander leaves as garnishing

Easy Chana Dal recipe

Chana Dal is hearty, nutritious, and makes for a healthy and fulfilling dinner with rice or roti, and has flavour from a handful of spices.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Dal Fry, Dal Tadka, easy dinner recipe, Healthy Recipe, Lentil Curry, Make ahead
Author Subhasmita


  • Pressure Cooker
  • Bowl


  • 1 cup Dry Chana Dal
  • 2 tablespoon Oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin/ Jeera
  • 1 large Onion diced
  • 2 teaspoon Ginger garlic paste
  • 2 medium Tomatoes Chopped
  • 1 green chilli chopped
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon Red chilli powder (increase up to 1 teaspoon for extra spicy)
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 1 teaspoon Kasuri Methi
  • 1 teaspoon Ghee
  • salt to taste
  • Fresh Coriander leaves for garnishing


  • Wash chana dal 2 -3 times until the water runs clear. Soak chana dal in a bowl for about 30 minutes.
  • In a pressure cooker or Instant pot, add oil. When the oil is hot add cinnamon, bay leaf and cumin. Saute for 30 seconds until aromatic.
  • Add diced onion. Saute for 3-4 minutes.
  • When the onion has softened and start to brown, add ginger garlic paste. Saute for a minutes, until the raw smell is gone.
  • Add chopped green chili, red chili powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder and cumin powder. Sauté for a minutes. Sprinkle some water if it looks too dry.
  • Add chopped tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until it is quite mushy and blends with rest of the spices.
  • Add drained chana dal, garam masala and 1.5 cups water. Add salt to taste. Stir it well.
  • Close the lid and pressure cook until 3 whistles. Switch off the gas and let the pressure release naturally.
  • After pressure has released naturally, Add warm water to get the desired consistency. Add ghee. Crush kasturi methi in between two palms and add to the dal. Mix well and let it cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Switch off the flame and add chopped coriander leaves.


  • Soak chana dal in water after washing them ideally for an hour. 30 minutes is a minimum here. Soaking in water removes any toxic or hard-to-digest substances and makes mineral absorption of any lentils easy for the human body.
  • When you add spices like cumin to hot oil, wait until they splutter. That helps in releasing their aroma. It usually needs 30 seconds. Do not wait too long because they will burn and give a burnt taste to the whole dish and spoil it.
  • Onions should always be sauteed until they are golden brown. It removes the rawness of the onions and makes them sweet to taste.
  • After adding other spice powders to the mix, sauté them well until they lose their raw smell.
  • You can also cook chana dal in a pan by covering it though I prefer a pressure cooker because cooking lentils in a cooker or instant pot is way faster and convenient.
  • You can control the consistency of the curry by either adding more water to make it thinner or keep it simmering to thicken it further.