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Chana Daal

Cuisine: Indian
Courses: Main Course, Starters and appetizers
Serves: 1 people

Recipe Ingredients

2 cups 474mlChana daal
1/2 teaspoon 2.5mlTurmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons 7.5mlGeera - (cumin) powder
1 1/2 teaspoons 7.5mlSalt - (or), to taste
2 teaspoons 10mlSugar - (or), to taste
2   Green chilli - (to)
1   Coconut - optional
3   Indian bayleaves - (to 4)
1 teaspoon 5mlWhole geera - (cumin)
1   Ginger - peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon 2.5mlMoori - (aniseed seeds)
1 teaspoon 5mlKalwanji - (onion seeds)
1   Dried red chilli - (to 2)
8   Cardamom - (to 10)
6   Cinnamon sticks - (to 8)

Recipe Instructions

Daal is central part of almost any Bengali meal, whether it is served simply with rice and a chilli omlette, or as part of a true feast. All daals are based round boiled lentils, of which Chana is just one variety. Like our Pilau rice it bears little resemblence to the dish you find in most Indian restaurants and a glance at the ingredients below should tell you that it tastes delicious. Of all the spices you need the one most typical to Bengal is the Kalwanji or onion seeds. If you think you will struggle to get these spices, try the Ingredients section on our main page. As part of this recipe you will discover the joys of Shombar - not to be missed!


Wash and drain the daal using hot water. Add plenty of cold water and leave to soak for one to two hours. Drain.

Cooking the Daal:

Put the soaked daal in a large saucepan and half fill it with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 3/4 hour (if it starts drying out whilst boiling you can add more hot water). Add salt and mix.

Add the Tumeric and Cumin powder and a little sugar to taste. Take two or three small fresh green chillis and open them to expose the seeds by slicing them down their length; add these to the daal.

Fresh coconut flesh is sometimes now added - try it if you can get a whole nut. Halve the coconut and carefully remove the white pulp. Cut it into small squares and fry it separately until it is just going brown. It can now be added to the daal.

Frying the spices:

In a second saucepan you now prepare the remaining spices for the shombar.

Heat a little oil to a high heat but not quite smoking. Add the red chillis and Indian bay leaves and lightly fry. Then add the whole geera, mouri, kalwanji and chopped ginger. The seeds should fry instantly. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately pour the liquid daal into the hot oil. Be careful as the combination is explosive! I usually do this over the sink. The better the "shombar" the better the taste of the daal.

Finishing off:

Having had the fun off the shombar you are nearly there. Put the saucepan which now contains everything back on the stove and gently heat. You now add the whole Cardamom and Cinnamon sticks. These can be added whole to the daal, but if you are able to crush them into a powder first with a little mortar and pestle this gives even more flavour. You can also add a little butter at this point.

Boil the whole mixture together for a further 10 minutes and check if you need to add more salt or sugar.

You are now ready to serve the daal, though it will still taste wonderful if it is re-heated the next day.

Anita Pal's Bengali Cookery Page


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5.7 (3 votes)

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