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Easy Chana Dal Recipe

Ready to enjoy the cozy flavor and filling nutritional benefits of this easy chana dal recipe? Learn how to make this tasty, delicious Indian/Pakistani-inspired recipe.

A bowl of chana dal (made from this easy chana dal recipe) and rice on a blue background

What is chana dal?

Chana dal is a delicious, comforting, simple curry dish inspired by the traditional dal found in Indian and Pakistani dishes. The taste of dal differs by region, but the inspiration for this particular dish hails from the Indian subcontinent.

“Chana” is chickpeas, and “dal” is split lentils, peas, or chickpeas. Therefore, chana dal is split chickpeas in soup or curry form! For this dish, chickpeas are split and polished, resulting in a different texture and feel than whole chickpeas.

I absolutely love to cook this dish when I’m in the mood for something warm and savory. The ingredients used make this recipe a perfect dish for western home chefs looking for a taste inspired by (not authentic to) Indian food.

Three bowls of chana dal and rice on a blue background

Nutritional benefits of chana dal

This easy chana dal recipe is a surprisingly healthy option. Delicious and nutritious? I’ll take it. Check out the benefits of this vegan meal.

  • Protein: This dish is a fantastic source of protein. Each serving contains 5.9g. When eaten together with rice, it becomes a complete protein, meaning the combination contains all of the essential amino acids.
  • Fat: This recipe is low in fat and contains just 8.7 grams.
  • Calories: With only 187 calories per serving, this filling dish is a great filling yet low calorie meal.
Garlic, ginger, onion, chana dal, diced tomatoes, and spices on a blue background

Ingredients needed to prepare this curry dish

This delicious vegan dish consists of just 9 ingredients, and that includes water, salt, and spices! This dish only requires about 4 “main” ingredients, making it a pretty simple and low-maintenance option.

  • Dried Chana Dal: For this recipe, we’ll be using dried chana dal, which consists of split chickpeas.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil will be used to grease our pan and help the spices soak into the main ingredients.
  • White or Yellow Onion: You can use either type for this recipe. Choose your favorite!
  • Ginger: Any recipe that requires ginger is a winner in my book! Ginger will help to season this dish.
  • Garlic: Of course, we can’t forget the garlic! Like with the ginger, using garlic will add major flavor.
  • Garam Masala: To give this meal its Indian-inspired flavor, we’ll be using garam masala. (Make your own with this quick Garam Masala recipe!)
  • Diced Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes are used to add some hearty umami to this recipe.
  • Salt: I like to use ¼ tsp of salt for this recipe, but you can use as much or as little as you’d like.
  • For Serving: When it comes to serving this dish, I love to do so with rice and a squeeze of lemon. It’s also delicious with a bit of yogurt on top!
Chana dal ingredients in a skillet on a blue background

How to make chana dal

This is one of the easiest chana dal recipes ever. The cooking instructions basically consist of just four parts, and it truly couldn’t be easier. Though 1 hour and 45 minutes are required, most of that is spent letting the chana dal soak!

  1. Soak: Add chana dal to a pot and cover with water. Let soak for 1 to 2 hours (or 8 hours, if starting in the morning before work). Strain before using.
  2. Base: Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or pot, then add onion, ginger, garlic, and garam masala. Cook until onion is softened and fragrant (about 3 minutes), then add the whole can of diced tomatoes, strained chana dal, and water.
  3. Cook: Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until chana dal is soft enough to be pinched between two fingers (about 25 to 40 minutes). Add more water, as needed, until chana dal has cooked through. Season with salt, taste, and add more salt/garam masala as needed.
  4. Serve: Serve warm with rice, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and fresh cilantro. I also love it with a dollop of plain yogurt and some homemade naan!
2 bowls of chana dal, naan bread, rice, and cilantro on a blue background

If you liked this recipe, you’ll also love these!

And if you’d like a fresh vegetable side dish to pair with your chana dal, choose from these spring roll options:

Chana Dal (Split Chickpea Curry)

Ready to enjoy the cozy flavor and filling nutritional benefits of chana dal? Learn how to make this tasty, delicious Indian/Pakistani-inspired recipe.
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Indian, Japanese
Keyword: chana dal recipe, easy chana dal, pakistani chana dal, split chickpea curry, split chickpea soup, vegan chana dal
Diet: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Time: 60 minutes or more
Prep: 1 hr 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 1 hr 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 184kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
4 from 2 votes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup dried chana dal (split chickpeas) can sub whole chickpeas*, 200 g
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil 30 mL
  • 1 white or yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes 400 g
  • 1 ½ cups water 355 mL
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • To serve: rice, lemon, cilantro, yogurt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Soak: Add chana dal to a pot and cover with water. Let soak for 1 to 2 hours (or 8 hours, if starting in the morning before work). Strain before using.
  • Base: Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or pot, then add onion, ginger, garlic, and garam masala. Cook until onion is softened and fragrant (about 3 minutes), then add the whole can of diced tomatoes, strained chana dal, and water.
  • Cook: Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until chana dal is soft enough to be pinched between two fingers (about 25 to 40 minutes). Add more water, as needed, until chana dal has cooked through. Season with salt, taste, and add more salt/garam masala as needed.
  • Serve: Serve warm with rice, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, and fresh cilantro. I also love it with a dollop of plain yogurt and some homemade naan!

NOTES

*If you’re unable to find chana dal, you can use whole chickpeas here.
  • To use dried chickpeas, follow instructions as given, through they will need longer to cook.
  • To use canned chickpeas, use 2 (14-oz) cans, drained. Add them to the mixture and cook until hot (they will need less time to cook).

NUTRITION

Serving: 1serving (without rice) | Calories: 184kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 5.9g | Fat: 8.7g | Saturated Fat: 1.2g | Sodium: 252mg | Potassium: 88mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 5.5g | Calcium: 110mg | Iron: 1mg
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