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Madhur Jaffrey's Chana Dal


"I haven't cooked any of the Indian pulses in ages, but dals are great, as is the fact that their GI is so low," writes Gail Zeigler on the Sweetalk mailing list on August 24, 1998. "Here is a recipe, in the Indian style, that you might try." She says that the recipe came from a cooking show on the BBC back in the '80s by actress Madhur Jaffrey.


  • 1 1/2 cups chana dal or yellow split peas, picked over, washed and drained
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 thin slices of unpeeled ginger
  • 1/4 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder


Put the dal in a heavy pot along with the water. Bring to a boil and remove any surface scum. Add the turmeric and ginger. Cover, leaving the lid just very slightly ajar, turn heat to low, and simmer gently for one and a half hours or until the dal is tender. Stir every 5 minutes or so during the last half hour of cooking to prevent sticking. Remove the ginger slices. Add the salt and garam masala to the dal. Stir to mix.

Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. A couple of seconds later, put in the garlic. Stir and fry until the garlic pieces are lightly browned. Put the chili powder into the pan. Immediately lift the pan off the heat and pour the mixture into the pot with the dal. Stir to mix.

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Last modified: January 11, 2001

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