Tadka Chana Dal


One of the easiest dals to make, Tadka Chana Dal is quite common across homes in North India. Having chana (gram) as the main ingredient, this dal is healthy and filling. A variety of temperings (tadkas) can be added to it to make it all the more interesting. Here’s the recipe to the dal’s basic version.


  • Chana Dal (Gram Lentil)                                    1/2 cup
  • Water                                                               1-1/2 cups
  • Onion, chopped                                                 1 small
  • Tomato, chopped                                               1 small
  • Ginger, grated                                                   3/4 teaspoon
  • Green chilies, finely chopped                             1 – 2
  • Salt                                                                   To taste
  • Turmeric Powder                                               1/4 teaspoon
  • Cumin Seeds                                                      1/3 teaspoon
  • Coriander Powder                                              3/4 teaspoon
  • Red Chili Powder                                                1/4 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala                                                    1/2 teaspoon
  • Cooking Oil or Ghee (Clarified butter)                  2 teaspoons
  • Fresh Coriander (Cilantro), chopped                    For garnish

Equipment Needed

  • Pressure Cooker


  1. Wash the dal 2 – 3 times with clean water. Then put it in a pressure cooker along with water, salt and turmeric powder.

Note: The quantity of water should ideally be 3 times the quantity of dal.

If you wish to cook the dal without pressure cooker, you can cook it in an open pan. For this, soak the dal in water for 1 – 2 hours and after that, boil it in a deep pan filled with 3 – 4 times the water. When the dal becomes so soft that it squashes within your fingers easily, it’s done.

  1. Place the pressure cooker over high heat and let it come to a whistle.
  2. After 3 whistles, reduce the flame to low and let the dal simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then turn off the flame.
  3. Now you’ll have to wait till the steam within the cooker escapes. Meanwhile, prepare the tempering.
  4. Place a shallow frying pan over medium heat and pour cooking oil or ghee in it. When the oil / ghee heats up, add the cumin seeds.
  5. As soon as the cumin seeds start to crackle, add the grated ginger and chopped green chilies.
  6. Stir lightly and after about 30 seconds, throw in the chopped onion. Stir and let everything fry until the onion becomes light brown.
  7. Now add the chopped tomato to the pan and stir everything. Reduce the flame to low and let everything cook stirring occasionally till the oil / ghee starts to separate.
  8. Now add the coriander powder and red chili powder and stir. Cook for a minute and then turn off the gas.
  9. Check to see if all the steam has escaped from the pressure cooker. If it has, open the cooker and using a spoon, scoop out some dal. Test if it’s properly boiled by squashing it within your fingers. If it squashes easily, it is done.
  10. If the dal is not properly boiled, close the cooker again and place it on high heat (add a little water if there is too little left in the cooker). Allow the cooker to take another 2 whistles and then reduce the flame. Let the dal simmer for an additional 5 – 7 minutes and then turn off the flame.
  11. Once the dal is properly boiled, add the tadka (tempering) to it and stir everything properly. Then place the cooker along with the ready dal over low heat.
  12. Let the dal come to a boil and then sprinkle garam masala over it. Reduce the flame and simmer it for 1 – 2 minutes. Turn off the flame.

Note: If you feel the consistency of the dal is too thick, before placing it over heat for the final boil, add a little water. Allow it to come to a nice boil and then reduce the flame. Simmer on low flame for 1 – 2 minutes and then turn off the gas.

Tip: You can add the garam masala along with the coriander at step 8 too. However, adding it like this at the last gives the dal a great garam masala aroma. Try it

  1. Pour the dal out into a serving dish and garnish with chopped fresh coriander. Serve hot with chapatti or jeera rice!

Tip: To enhance the aroma of the dish, while preparing the tempering add some curry leaves before adding onions. You can also choose to garnish with curry leaves instead of coriander.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 2 – 3

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