Bengali cholar dal is made from chana dal and is a very special delicacy of Bengal. It is a dish relished on special and festive occasions like Durga Puja, weddings and even if you have a guest over for lunch / dinner. This preparation is slightly different from other methods of making chana dal all over India. It is unique because of a typical taste imparted by few special ingredients like bay leaves, ghee and coconut. Moreover authentic cholar dal is always strictly vegetarian as there is no use of onions and garlic in the recipe.
My childhood is marked with memories of this special dal which we got to savor during weddings and functions at home. It is slightly sweet, aromatic and irresistibly good! DH got introduced to cholar dal only after our wedding and he loves it! There is one particular restaurant in Singapore that serves authentic Bengali food. Whenever we visit with our parents, we make sure to order cholar dal with some aloo jhuri bhaja (fried potatoes). Mostly kids will love this dal as it is not at all spicy but at the same time it is delicious because of a distinctive taste imparted by the combination of sweet coconut, ghee and spicy garam masala and green chillies.
Ravishing cholar dal, I would say, is an upscale dal which is luxurious, tastefully fine and elegant.You should prepare this dal if you want to impress your loved ones.:)
Enjoy this awesome dal with luchis (Bengali puris made with maida) and fried potatoes on the side.
P.S: Cholar dal is usually prepared a little thick, however DH loves his lentils a bit on the runny side so I have added some extra water. However you could adjust the density of this dish by adjusting the amount of water.
Chana dal / Bengal Gram – 1/2 cup (washed and soaked)
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp (1 tsp for initial tempering and 2nd tsp for the final tempering)
Bay leaves – 3-4
Cinnamon stick – 2-3 small pieces
Green chillies – 4-5
Ginger – 1 medium sized portion
Shredded coconut – 3-4 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp (optional – traditionally it is not used in the recipe)
Hing / asafoetida – 1 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Sugar – 1 tsp
Ghee – 1 tbsp (necessary)
- Take a pressure cooker and add oil. Add 1 tsp cumin seeds, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Let the cumin splutter. Stir for a few seconds.
2. Take the ginger and 2 green chillies. Pound and crush them roughly using a mortar and pestle. Add the ginger – chilli paste to the pressure cooker. Stir fry for 1 min.
3. Then add in the shredded coconut and saute for 1 min.
4. Add in the washed Chana dal and saute for 1 min.
5. Then add in water. Add turmeric powder and red chilli powder (optional). Mix well.
Pressure cook the dal for 2-3 whistles. The dal must be cooked but still should be able to hold its shape.
6. Take 2 tbsp ghee in a separate pan. You can take a combination of oil and ghee, but remember not to skip out on the ghee as it is important in order to achieve that unique taste of cholar dal.
Add 1 tsp cumin seeds, green chillies and hing. Let the cumin seeds splutter. Stir well for 1 min.
7. Add this tempering into the cooked dal. Mix well.
8. Turn back on the heat. Add salt and sugar. Mix well. Let the dal come to a boil and let it boil for 4-5 mins. Turn off the heat.
Serve Bengali cholar dal with Luchis or kachoris.