Spicy Chana Dal

Spicy chana dal served in a white bowl with rice, salad and breads

Spicy Chana Dal for dinner

This easy to make Spicy Chana dal is a very tasty little recipe to add to your repertoire. If you are looking for an economical, healthy, fibre and protein filled meal with Indian flavours youʼre in the right spot.

Dal, daal, dhal, dhall or however you want to spell it is eaten throughout India. Dal simply means dried legumes…..think peas and lentils. Recipes for Dal are found in every Indian household on a daily basis in millions of flavour combinations.

Onion and cumin frying in wok
Frying garlic after tempering the cumin

Itʼs the spices and vegetable additions that turn these nutritious legumes into healthy home comfort meals. On their own, they are often just plain bland and boring.

Frying off spices in ghee, adding onions, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, chilli and curry leaves is just so super easy to form the basis for this Spicy chana dal meal.

Adding onion to garlic and cumin to wok
Adding onion to garlic and cumin in the wok

You need to cook your dal until it is soft and almost a rough purée, a little like the consistency of cooked porridge.

Serve with steamed basmati rice, a quick little salad combo of tomatoes, cucumbers and red onion along with some chopped fresh coriander. Add some yoghurt and fried flatbread or cumin spiced pappadums and you are on a complete Indian roll…YUM!

Wok after adding curry leaves with browned onions, garlic and cumin
Wok after adding curry leaves


 tomatoes, ginger and chilli added to wok with wooden spoon
Adding tomatoes, ginger and green chilli to wok


Turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powder added to wok with wooden spoon
Turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and coriander added to wok


adding chana dal and any residual cooking water, salt and fenugreek leaves with wooden spoon
Adding chana dal and any residual cooking water, salt and fenugreek leaves

Indian pantry

You will probably be surprised that you already have a lot of widely used Indian spices in your pantry. Cumin, coriander seeds, turmeric, mustard seeds, Garam masala, fresh ginger, garlic, cinnamon, chilli powder, cloves, fennel seeds all add to the diverse flavourings of Indian cuisine.

Youʼve got to love an emporium that at every turn or new shelf youʼre picking up products and excitedly ‘googlingʼ their uses. We would much rather go on the shopping hunt for new ingredients than any other form of retail therapy.

Indian cuisine has got to be one of the worlds most diverse and flavoursome cuisines. So, so, many flavour combinations with earthy spices to searing hot chilli flavours. Whatʼs not to love?

scroll down below for the spicy chana dal recipe

check out some more winning Indian recipes

indian madras beef curry

click on the link for the recipe…..Indian Madras Beef Curry

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Ready to dip into your curry. Yum!

click on the link for the recipe…..Roti Jala – Malaysian net pancakes

Indian vegetable curry

click on the link for the recipe…..indian vegetable curry

Cauliflower, lentil and tomato curry

click on the link for the recipe…..cauliflower lentil and tomato curry

Whatʼs your favourite Indian meal?

We would love to hear from you in the comments below when you make this delicious spicy chana dal.

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Spicy chana dal

  • Author: Recipe Winners, adapted from vegrecipesofindia.com
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6


This simple easy to make, cheap and healthy delicious dal is made in an hour not counting soaking time for chana dal. Nutritious, full of fibre and protein and healthy. What’s not to like!


1 cup (200g) chana dal – soaked for an hour or more before cooking

45 cups of cold water

1 teaspoon turmeric for cooking with chana dal

1 teaspoon vegetable oil for cooking with chana dal

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow (brown) onion

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

3 medium tomatoes finely chopped

2 green chilli (seeds optional)

1 stem ( about 20 leaves) curry leaves

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon garam masala

2 teaspoon coriander powder

1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (optional)

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh coriander finely chopped


 cooking the chana dal:

  1. place strained chana dal in a saucepan and add 4-5 cups cold water, turmeric and oil
  2. bring to boil, then simmer for 45-60 minutes till softened – you may need to add some additional water

tempering the ingredients:

  1. place ghee or oil in a wok or heavy based saucepan till hot and add cumin seeds and stir for 1 minute as they spit and splutter
  2. add garlic and stir for another minute
  3. add onion and stir for 3-4 minutes till golden
  4. then add curry leaves and stir for a minute
  5. next add tomatoes, ginger and chilli and cook stirring for around 5 minutes till tomatoes start to break down
  6. add turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powder stirring for a minute
  7. add chana dal along with any residual cooking water salt and fenugreek leaves
  8. simmer and stir for 5-8 minutes – dal may need some additional water to thin out the consistency
  9. stir through the coriander and serve.
  10. We like to serve with steamed basmati, a quick salad of chopped red onion, cucumber, tomato and yoghurt add some roti or flatbread and enjoy!


  1. Fenugreek leaves can be bought from Indian food stores. The leaves impart a distinctive sharpness and are known in India as Kasuri methi.
  2. Curry leaves are best fresh but can be frozen. Curry leaves add a refreshing citrus-like flavour
  • Category: Asian
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Indian


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