Chana Dal Fry dishes are very popular and for a good reason. The combination of the creamy dal, the crisp and caramelized onions, the taste of the ghee and cumin seeds, and the occasional piece of tomato combine very well together, producing a complex range of flavors from a simple dish.
Why You'll Love This Instant Pot Dal Recipe
- Fast. A delicious meal ready in under 30 minutes.
- Easy. Fry up onions and spices while your dal cooks in the Instant Pot.
- Vegetarian. A great Vegetarian-friendly dish.
- Versatile. Use any split dal you have in your pantry.
What Is Chana Dal In English?
Chana is actually nothing more than split chickpeas, or garbanzo beans. For this dish, you can also have the cooked chana dal already using the PIP rice and Chana recipe I've provided here.
Or you can make it as the recipe calls for below, which is just the dal.
Does Chana Dal Need To Be Soaked?
Unlike some other lentils, this kind does not need to be soaked before you cook them. Since it is a split lentil, it cooks much faster than a whole bean.
Do I Have To Use An Instant Pot For This Recipe?
No, you don't. You can definitely cook the chana dal on the stovetop. It's just that it takes a while and you have to keep an eye on the pot so it doesn't boil over.
How To Make Stove Top Chana Dal
If you want to do this, here are the steps:
- Add 1 cup of Chana Dal to a large pan
- Add 1 cup of water
- Let simmer until fully cooked (about 30 minutes).
Is Chana Dal The Only Thing I Can Use In This Recipe?
Nope, it's not. This can be made with any split dal, such as tuvar, masoor, moong, etc. The dal must be split though so don't use whole beans, as what you want is a creamy final texture.
But I like chana dal and it is less likely to cause sugar/insulin spikes than some other dals, so if I must have dal, that's what I have. Besides, chana dal just tastes so good to me.
So in this picture below, you can use ANY of these dals--except the little brown ones at the top, as that is a whole bean, not a split dal.
How To Make This Chana Dal Recipe
- First, cook the savory portion on the stovetop.
- Next, cook the dal in the Instant Pot.
- Mix the Chana Dal with the cooked spices and onions.
More Delicious Lentil Recipes
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For the Fry part
- 4 teaspoons (4 teaspoons) Ghee, or use coconut oil for dairy free
- 1/2 teaspoon (1/2 teaspoon) cumin seeds
- 4 (4 ) Dried Red Chilis
- 6 cloves (6 cloves) Garlic, minced
- 2 cup (2 cup) Red Onion. chopped, thinly sliced
- 1 cup (2 ) Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Turmeric
- 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) Ground Cumin
- 1-2 cups (250 ml) Water
- 1/4 cup (4 g) Chopped Cilantro or Parsley, chopped
Cook the Dal
- Place the chana dal and water into your Instant Pot or pressure cooker and cook at high pressure for 7 minutes, and allow it to release pressure naturally for 10 minutes. Release all remaining pressure quickly.
- Open the lid and mash the dal with the back of a spoon to get a creamy texture.
- While the dal is cooking, you can get the "Fry" part of this recipe together.
For the "Fry" part
- Heat a saucepan and melt the ghee or coconut oil. When it shimmers, put in cumin seeds, red chiles and garlic and cook for 1 minute until the ghee picks up the flavors. That red chili looks vicious but it really doesn't add that much heat--unless you chew it. Then you're on your own.
- Add the onion slices and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are crisp and lightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. Flatten the onions in the saucepan and don't stir too often, since you want the edges to burn a little. (You say burn, I say caramelize). Watch video to see how long to cook the onions.
- Add in the tomato and let it get heated through as you gently mash it with the back of your spoon. Sprinkle the turmeric, salt, and powdered cumin, mixing well.
- Turn the Instant Pot to sauté. Pour in the spiced onions and tomatoes and mix well. Add a little water to get a thick, soupy but pourable consistency. Leave on sauté for 5-10 minutes until the flavors meld.
- Add chopped cilantro and serve with rice.
Watch The Video
- You can use any kind of split dal for this recipe.
- You can also make PIP rice with this dish at the same time.
- If you don't have the dried red chili peppers, you can omit. You may want to increase cayenne by 1/4 teaspoon--or not.