I’ve been cooking a bit of Indian food lately, inspired by Vaishali’s vegan blog over at Holy Cow.
Full credit goes to Vaishali for this recipe, which I have reproduced faithfully (slightly Australianised) because I enjoyed eating this so much.
It took only 6 minutes to cook the dhal in a pressure cooker, and another few to fry the seasonings, meaning I had it ready in the time it took to cook the rice.
It is made with channa dhal, which I have never used before. It looks like slightly large, slightly more yellow, split peas. It is, in fact, a kind of small chickpea, skinned and split. It is slightly nutty in flavour. I got mine at a local Indian grocer.
Of course I tweaked it, not for my usual reason of being an unrepentant tinkerer with recipes, but because I didn’t have any raisins. Actually I did, but couldn’t find them, a SURE sign I need to tidy my cupboards. Instead, I substituted them with dried cranberries, which I think worked really well with their sweet, tart flavour.
The final dhal was delicious, although perhaps a little sweet for my liking, so I might be inclined to reduce the sugar next time.
I ate it with some rice.
- 1 cup channa dal
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp vegetable oil (I used rice bran oil as it has a high smoke point)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 3 cloves
- 1-inch stick cinnamon
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- ¼ cup golden raisins (i used dried cranberries which worked well)
- ¼ cup thick coconut milk
- 2 tbsp grated jaggery (substitute with brown sugar if you can't find this)
- 3-4 slivers of fresh coconut (optional).
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped
- In a pressure cooker or in a saucepan, combine the dhal with bay leaves and turmeric.
1a. If using a saucepan: cover the lentils with an inch of water, bring to a boil, and let the lentils cook at a simmer, covered. Check frequently to ensure they don't dry up and add more water if needed. Cook the lentils until they are really soft and tender.
1 b. If using a pressure cooker: add 3 cups of water to the 1 cup of dhal, bring to high pressure, and cook for 6 minutes.
- In another saucepan, heat the oil.
- Add the mustard seeds and, when they sputter, add the cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.
- Saute a minute until the cardamom looks puffy, then add the slivers of coconut, if using, and saute until they get lightly golden brown.
- Add the raisins and ginger, saute for 30 seconds, then add the cooked dhal. Stir well to mix.
- Add some water if the dhal is too dry. You want it to have a thicker consistency than most dhals do, but not so thick that it's dry.
- Add the jaggery (i used brown sugar) and coconut milk and heat the dhal through.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot.
2 thoughts on “cholar dhal”
Hi Rosalie, glad you tried and liked the dal, and thanks for your kind words about the blog! Yes, this dal can be a little on the sweet side, which is probably why it is considered a “special occasion” dal– we Indians celebrate everything with sugar. 🙂
I know that Indians like their sweet desserts but I never really knew it extended to savoury dishes as well. 🙂 I do like discovering the range of dhal that can be made so I will continue my exploration.