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Chana Dal Recipe

An easy 30-minute recipe for a punchy chana or split yellow gram dal that derives it sharp flavor from a rich spice blend and tamarind sauce.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Soak Time 6 hours
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani Cuisine
Servings 4 people


  • 1 ½ cup chana dal split yellow gram
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoon tamarind paste home-made or store bought, see notes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ½ yellow onion sliced in half rings
  • ¼ cup oil canola/sunflower/vegetable
  • 4-6 dried red chilies
  • 3- inch ginger julienned
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro finely chopped


  • Rinse the chana dal and soak overnight.
  • Place the dal and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring it to boil.
  • Add crushed ginger and garlic, tamarind paste, ground spices and salt. Lower heat and let the dal simmer uncovered for roughly 20-25 minutes. The dal should soften and the water boil out. Remove from heat.
  • While the water is boiling, fry sliced onion in ¼ cup oil for about 10 – 12 minutes until it’s a deep even brown. Drain on paper towel.
  • When the dal is done, heat 2 tablespoon of oil, and fry 4-6 dried red chilies for a few seconds.
  • Place the dal in serving dish, top with caramelized onions, fried chilies and oil (tadka), and freshly cut ginger and cilantro. Serve with roti/chapati or naan.


For this recipe, I used a store-bought tamarind paste. If you want to make it at home, soak a walnut-sized tamarind pulp in warm water. Using your fingers or a spoon, deseed the tamarind pulp and press it to extract the juice out of the tamarind. Strain it and add the tamarind water to the saucepan along with the rest of the ingredients.
Keyword dal, lentils