Chana dal

A delicious blend of warming spices makes this Indian classic a standout dish
1 rating
Recipe by: Sarah Drabble | Healthy You Editor

When I go for curry with my family, we always get lots of dishes to share. A big pot of dal is always a feature, but quite often it is rather salty and rich in butter. My version is just as satisfying, but contains less fat and salt.



  • 120g chana dal (sometimes called yellow split gram)
  • 400ml water
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium leek, trimmed and finely sliced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon dried coriander
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon curry powder (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2cm root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Lemon juice (optional, to taste)
90 minutes

Nutrition information (per serving)

5 A DAY:
  1. Pour the chana dal into a sieve and rinse under cold running water. Then transfer into a saucepan and add the water. Place the pan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Skim off any foam that forms.
  2. Reduce the heat. Add the shallot, carrot, leek, turmeric, coriander, cumin, curry powder (optional), garlic and ginger, and mix thoroughly. Place the lid slightly ajar over the pan, and leave to gently simmer for 60–75 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the dal has broken down to a creamy consistency. Add more water if needed.
  3. Warm the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook for 1–2 minutes, until the seeds begin to pop. Pour the mustard seeds and oil over the dal and stir through. Season with black pepper, salt and lemon juice (optional), and then serve.

Serving suggestion: Serve with steamed brown basmati rice or wholemeal flatbreads.

Instead of chana dal, try lentils or mung beans in this recipe. Stir a large handful of spinach or halved cherry tomatoes through the dal before serving to boost your 5 A DAY.