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Chana Dal Curry (Spicy Lentil Stew)

I almost can’t speak. It really was that delicious.

I love Indian Curries. And thanks to years of eating spicy food, my tummy is pretty much okay with any spice I throw at it. And I religiously do.

Spicy curries & spicy rice >> the two beautiful things in my life that I wouldn’t give up for anything! Not even my most favorite cake in the world!

That being said, just how EASY is it to make Indian gravies! So easy, quick and delicious that I’m obsessed with curries. And yes, I’m a self proclaimed curry-Queen! :P

Besides being delicious, this curry has an added advantage of providing you with loads & loads of proteins! A simple bowl of brown rice or wholewheat breads along with this Curry will give you a wholesome meal of complex carbs, proteins & essential fats! You can of course swap the Chana Dal (Brown Chickpea) for ANY lentils that you have / use / like. But keep in mind that the amount of water and time required for cooking different lentils vary.

Chana Dal Curry – THE RECIPE

(I’m making in a pressure cooker. Scroll down to the recipe if you want an alternative to making this in a pan)

The ingredients are –

Soak the Chana Dal in water for 20-30 minutes. This helps the lentils to cook faster.

To the pressure cooker, heat oil, add the cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf & slit green chilli. Let that fry for a minute or two until an aroma starts to come from the dry spices.

Add the chopped onions, minced garlic & ginger & sauté for 1-2 minutes until the onions turn translucent.

Add chopped tomatoes and give it a good mix.

On medium flame, continue to cook for 5-8 minutes until tomatoes reduce to a mush. (remember to keep stirring every now and then so that the mixture doesn’t burn)

Drain the lentils and add them to the pressure cooker.

Add the seasoning – red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt. (You can add other spices like Garam Masala, Cumin powder etc. if you want. I decided to keep it simple)

Mix and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add water & mix well. Let that come to a boil.

Close the pressure cooker, put the whistle on – and let it cook for upto 6-8 whistles or until you feel the lentils have cooked as per your liking. The number of whistles will vary depending on which lentil you’re cooking, how soft or hard you like your lentils to be cooked. I like mine to be really soft so I take it upto almost 8-10 whistles. Switch off the flame, let the pressure escape completely (10 min) before opening.

Garnish with coriander / cilantro leaves & serve!

Chana Dal Curry (Spicy Lentil Stew)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe type: Side dish
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup Chana Dal (brown chickpea lentil) {Or any lentils you prefer}
  • 1 cup chopped Onions
  • 2 cups chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp minced Ginger
  • 2 Green chillies, split lengthwise (skip for less spicy version)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 inch Cinnamon stick
  • 2 Cloves
  • 2 tsp Vegetable Oil
  • Water, as required
Spice Powders
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • 1 TBsp Salt (adjust to taste)
  • ½ tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder (homemade or store bought) {optional}
  • ½ tsp Turmeric Powder (haldi) {optional}
Instructions
  1. Soak the Chana Dal in water for 20-30 minutes. This helps the lentils to cook faster.
  2. To the pressure cooker, heat oil, add the cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf & slit green chilli. Let that fry for a minute or two until an aroma starts to come from the dry spices.
  3. Add the chopped onions, minced garlic & ginger & sauté for 1-2 minutes until the onions turn translucent.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes and give it a good mix.
  5. On medium flame, continue to cook for 5-8 minutes until tomatoes reduce to a mush. (remember to keep stirring every now and then so that the mixture doesn’t burn)
  6. Drain the lentils and add them to the pressure cooker.
  7. Add the seasoning – red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt. (You can add other spices like Garam Masala, Cumin powder etc. if you want a more spicier version)
  8. Mix and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add enough water to cover the entire mixture & mix well. Let that come to a boil.
  10. Close the pressure cooker, put the whistle on – and let it cook for upto 6-8 whistles or until you feel the lentils have cooked as per your liking. The number of whistles will vary depending on which lentil you’re cooking, how soft or hard you like your lentils to be cooked.
  11. Switch off the flame, let the pressure escape completely (10 min) before opening.
  12. Garnish with coriander / cilantro leaves & serve!
Alternative to pressure cooking (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you’ll need 2 pans with high sides)
  1. On one pan, add the lentils and enough water to cover the lentils, add some salt and let that boil until lentils are almost cooked to your liking.
  2. In the other pan, follow the same steps as above – sauté onions, spices, tomatoes and cook till they have reduced to a mush. Also add the spice powders (chilli, salty, turmeric, garam masala) and cook for another 2 minutes
  3. Add the cooked lentils to this onion tomato mixture along with half a cup of the reserved water.
  4. Let that boil for 10 minutes or until the curry reaches the consistency you prefer.

 

About the author: Food Blogger, Recipe developer, Meal Planner .. and Chief Eating Officer! ;-)

{ 9 comments… add one }

  • Jenny February 15, 2014, 6:21 pm

    My pressure cooker doesn’t have ‘whistles’. Roughly how many minutes did it take once the pressure cooker had reached full pressure?

    • Kavitha | Foodomania February 17, 2014, 5:10 pm

      Hi Jenny! I think you have a rice cooker and not pressure cooker because all pressure cookers (as far as I know) must have whistles! Now, if you don’t have whistles, I’d suggest you cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes first, open and see if they have been cooked to the consistency you like. If they are undercooked, you can always cook them again.

      Hope this helps!

  • Caitie August 5, 2013, 5:04 am

    Nice! I definitely would use way less than a tablespoon of salt though.

  • Charul @ Tadka Masala February 23, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Love chana dal. Simple, heart and comforting! Yumm!

  • Sarojini February 22, 2013, 1:21 am

    …Mmmmm! ~I just love chana dal, and your version looks so tasty :)

  • vanamala February 20, 2013, 11:24 pm

    oh nice …looks tasty

  • Love2cook Malaysia February 20, 2013, 5:19 pm

    You are an awesome cook dear! This curry looks sooooo delicious!!! :)

  • Amelia February 20, 2013, 4:58 pm

    Hi Kavi, I love dal curry to go with any rotis. Yours look very delicious. YUMMY!

    Best regards.

  • Suman Arthy February 20, 2013, 4:09 pm

    love the flavour of tomatoes in this curry….

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