Chana Dal Curry (Spicy Lentil Stew)

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 1x


  • 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)
  • 1/2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder (homemade or store bought) {optional}
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder (haldi) {optional}


  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 Рsaut̩ 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.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Cuisine: Indian