Red lentil and chana dal

March 4, 2021 at 10:05 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, From a friend, Indian)


My sister told me recently that she tried one of the chana dal recipes on this blog and she wasn’t too impressed. She said it was okay, but it just wasn’t right somehow. So when a friend of mine (Satnam Singh) posted his own red lentil and chana dahl recipe on Facebook, we decided to give it a try. Satnam said the recipe is based on one this his mom (Dalip Kaur) makes, but he modified it a bit based on the Tadka dal recipe in the Bombay Brasserie cookbook. We made it (albeit with much less chili powder than called for) and enjoyed it. Alma, predictably, wouldn’t touch it.

Satnam gave me permission to share it on my blog. Below I’ve modified his recipe to use typical American spelling and terms. 

Lentils 

  • 300g masoor dal (peeled and split red lentils)
  • 150g chana dal (split gram)
  • 3 tsp. turmeric 
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (Indian, not Mexican!)
  • 2 ½ tsp. fine salt
  • 8.5 cups water
  • fresh cilantro to garnish
  • Frozen curry leaves (optional)

Tempering 

  • 4 Tbsp. oil
  • 4 large onions (about 1.2 kg), chopped 
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds 
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed or chopped
  • 1 cm ginger, chopped
  • 4 green chilis, seeded and chopped (optional, we used 2 jalapenos without seeds)
  • 4 tsp. Kashmiri chili powder (we couldn’t find any Kashmiri chili powder, plus the dal was spicy enough for us, so we just omitted this!)
  • 4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped or a 400g can of chopped tomatoes (total weight should be 400g, not drained weight)

 Instructions: 

  1. Mix masoor dal, chana dal, turmeric, chili powder, salt, and water in a large (4 to 5 quart) pot. Bring to a boil. This takes about 10 minutes on a large burner.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low (3 of 9 on my stove) with lid slightly ajar. Simmer vigorously until the liquid is absorbed and the chana dal is breaking down. Stir occasionally to avoid the dal sticking to the bottom of the pot. This takes approximately 50 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, chop your garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and onion.
  4. Heat the oil in a frying pan. When hot add the cumin seeds and fry until they crackle.  Add garlic and continue frying, stirring occasionally until the aroma of cooked garlic is evident. 
  5. Add the onion and continue frying on medium until the onion soft, very lightly browned around the edges, and starting to become sweet (but not caramelized).
  6. Stir in the green chillies, ginger and chilli powder and continue frying for 1.5 minutes. 
  7. Stir in the tomatoes. 
  8. Pour tempering over lentils and stir. 
  9. Mix in the cilantro leaves. Garnish with a few dried red chilies if you’re trying to impress your date.

Note: Satnam says he doesn’t bother to rinse the dal—he just checks it for stones. He also doesn’t bother to skim the foam off the top when it comes to a boil. He said you can omit the tomatoes if you want—his Mom doesn’t use them. The tomatoes are inspired by the Tadka Dal recipe from the Bombay Brasserie cookbook (a cookbook written by the the chef at a fancy Indian restaurant in London). He said they add raw chopped fresh tomatoes at the end, but lightly blended canned tomatoes are a fine substitute. Satnam advises that if you want to freeze the dal, not to add the tempering. Instead, make and add the tempering for each batch of lentils when they are needed.

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