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Cholar Dal
It is yet another protein rich lentil dish of Bengali cuisine made on special occasions like Durga Pooja, weddings etc. In this Bengali chana dal recipe, chana dal is first boiled with turmeric powder and then it is tempered with Indian spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and green cardamom and finally it is mixed with fried coconut, raisins, sugar and ghee. It is best enjoyed when served with luchi (Bengali style deep fried puffed bread) and makes for an ideal lunch treat. With this recipe’s step by step photos, tips and serving ideas, making lip smacking cholar dal at home and impressing your loved ones with your cooking skills is a kids play.
1/2 cup Chana Dal (cholar dal / Bengal gram)
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
2 tablespoons sliced Fresh Coconut
7-8 Raisins
4-5 Cashew nuts
1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
A small pinch of Asafoetida (hing), optional
1 small piece of Bay Leaf
2-inch piece of Cinnamon
2 Cloves
2 Green Cardamoms
1/2 teaspoon grated Ginger
1 Dry Red Chilli
1 Green Chilli, slit vertically
1/2 teaspoon Sugar or to taste
1 tablespoons Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ghee
1/2 teaspoon Salt or to taste
1 cup + 1/2 cup Water
  1. Wash and soak chana dal in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Drain water and pressure-cook it with 1-cup water, turmeric powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a 3-liter capacity steel pressure cooker for 4-whistles over medium flame. Turn off flame and let it stand for 15-20 minutes to release the pressure inside cooker (Do not open the lid of pressure cooker immediately as it may burn with piping hot steam). After pressure releases, open the lid and keep cooked dal aside.
  3. Heat oil and ghee together in a small pan over low flame. Add sliced coconut, raisins and cashew nuts and shallow fry them until coconut slices turn light brown. Drain excess oil and transfer them to a plate.
  4. Add cumin seeds, asafoetida, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms, grated ginger and dry red chilli in the same pan and sauté for 20-30 seconds.
  5. Add cooked dal, slit green chilli, fried coconut slices, fried raisins and fried cashew nuts.
  6. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes over medium flame.
  7. Add 1/2 cup water and sugar.
  8. Mix properly and cook until medium thick consistency for approx. 5-6 minutes. Stir in between occasionally to prevent sticking. Taste for salt at this stage and add more if required.
  9. Turn off flame and transfer prepared dal to serving bowl. Authentic Bengali cholar dal is ready.
Tips and Variations:
  • You can also fry coconut pieces individually and then garnish dal with it for variation.
  • Dal will turn thick as it cools so adjust the water (in step-7) accordingly to make it thicker or thinner to your liking.
  • You can also add grated coconut if sliced coconut is not available or you can completely skip it.
Taste:  Mild spicy and mild sweet
Serving Ideas:  Serve this yellow lentil dal with luchi (Bengali style deep fried flat bread) or hot and fluffy puri.

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