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Two Chana Dal Recipes

By David Mendosa

Last Update: January 16, 2001

Kabuli Chana Dal

This is a very tasty and spicy dish that we serve often.


  • 2 cups chana dal
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1/2-1 tsp. red pepper powder (cayenne)
  • 3 cups tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice

Cook dal in 4 cups of water until tender. Purée partially, using a hand-held blender or put half in a regular blender. Set aside. Heat a nonstick pan over moderate heat. Add the cumin seeds and stir until they crackle (about 10 seconds). Add onion, ginger, and garlic. Stir until onion is translucent. Add turmeric, coriander, and red pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 20 second, being careful not to burn. Add tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer 1 minute. Add chopped and puréed chana dal. Cook, stirring, 2-3 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Add salt to taste. Remove from heat. Add limejuice and stir.

Serving suggestions:

Serve over a bed of one-half rice and one-half barley. Top with chutney or fat-free sour cream or plain non-fat yogurt.


Based on a recipe in Indian Light Cooking.

Chana Hummus

Hummus is a classic Middle Eastern dip served with pieces of pita bread cut into triangles. It's quick and easy to make. Usually made with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), hummus has a rich, earthy flavor. Made with chana dal, hummus is lighter, sweeter, and even better. High in soluble fiber, hummus is one of the healthiest dips you can make. Other healthy dips, such as salsa and baba ghanouj are not as nutritious as hummus, especially if you leave out the traditional tahini (sesame paste) and olive oil, either of which can add lots of fat. Made with chana dal, you will appreciate the low-fat version not only with pita (or crackers) but also with raw vegetables, in a sandwich, or as a salad.


  • 3 cups cooked chana dal (about 1 1/2 cups uncooked chana dal), drained (reserve 1/4 cup liquid for thinning and 2 tablespoons beans for garnish)
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately 2 lemons)
  • 3 large cloves garlic (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 4 teaspoons dill
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Optional Ingredients:

Hummus has many variations. The most common optional extra is:

  • 1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste) or, to minimize fat, a few drops of toasted sesame oil
Other options include:

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 onion, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (can be omitted to reduce fat)
  • 2 tablespoons whole, cooked chana dal
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

  • As you cook any dried beans, pick over dried chana dal and wash in several changes of water. Soak them in fresh cold water for 8 to 12 hours. Rinse in fresh cold water, drain, then cook in more fresh cold water, until tender (about 1 hour). The cooking time depends on the age and quality of the chana dal. Or you can speed up the process by bringing them to a boil for about three minutes, cover, remove from heat and let stand for 2 hours, rinse, and cook further on low until tender.

  • In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the chana dal, reserved liquid, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cayenne, cumin, dill, and sugar. Process or blend until smooth and creamy in texture, scraping down the sides as necessary.

  • Taste for seasoning, adding optional tahini (or toasted sesame oil) or herbs and spices as desired. If too thick, add a small amount of lemon juice or water.

  • Transfer to a bowl, cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes until ready to serve or refrigerate for future use. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Serving Suggestions:

If used as a dip, dribble paprika and optional olive oil over the surface. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and arrange a decorative pattern of cooked whole chana dal on top.

Serve with wedges of warm pita bread (or crackers). It's great with vegetable crudités of celery, red and green bell pepper strips, carrots, radish slices, broccoli, or cauliflower.

You will also enjoy it on an open-face sandwich with cucumber and tomato slices. Some people serve it as a side salad.

Source: Recipe by David Mendosa. 

This article originally appeared on the Diabetes Digest site, April 1999.

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