Chana Daal or Gram Lentils

There is something about daal roti that gives me immense satisfaction. Not daal chawal (rice), but daal roti. Since I am not motivated enough to make fresh roti/bread I frequently buy the kind that comes in a pack of ten and then just heat it over an open flame on a gas stove. As you can see from the picture, I like it a little charred. Does it taste exactly like home? Nope. But it sure is a whole lot easier!

This recipe is one of those that I started making not that long ago. I find it is at its most delicious when I use fresh ginger – hence the grating. It is about a minute more of work – 10 seconds to grate, 50 to wash – but so worth it for the depth that it provides to this daal.

Also please note the super cute grown up measuring cup in the first shot, my friend Aalya gave that to me for my birthday last year, makes even daal seem fancy!

Chana Daal

1 cup chana daal
½ medium onion (diced)
¾ inch piece fresh ginger (grated)
3 garlic cloves
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp coriander powder
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 tomato diced
Freshly cracked black pepper
3-4 green chillies
½ cup chopped cilantro


Chana Daal is a tough one – literally. To make my life easier I just soak it overnight, run it through a few changes of water, and then boil it the next day. Doing it this way allows me to basically ‘stir fry’ the daal and minimizes active cooking time. I also tend to boil multiples of what I need and then toss them in the freezer.


Heat about ¼ cup of oil in a 3 or more inch deep saucepan, add cumin seeds and onion and let the onion turn golden brown.


Now add in the garlic, ginger, and the rest of the spices EXCEPT the pepper. Stir fry for about two minutes and then add the tomato, cook it till it is nice and mushy. Add a little water if it starts to stick. After about five minutes add your chana daal, cook at high heat, and keep stirring. Add a little more water if necessary, but remember this will be a fairly ‘dry’ daal. Add a few turns of black pepper, then the chopped cilantro and the green chilli (sliced or whole is up to you). Cover your saucepan, turn the heat off, and dig in.

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