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Smoky Chana Dal Spread with Garlic and Basil


  • 1 pound chana dal, picked over
  • 2 cloves
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, plus 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon liquid hickory smoke flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage


In a medium bowl, cover beans with cold water and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Drain beans. In a large pan, cover them with cold water. Push cloves into onion half. Add onion half and thyme to beans. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover tightly, lower heat and cook gently, stirring once or twice, until very tender, about 50 minutes (cooking times vary widely; add more boiling water and continue to cook as necessary). Reserve one cup cooking water. Discard onion half and thyme. Drain and cool beans.

In a food processor, combine beans, chipped onion, 2/3 cup of the reserved cooking water, garlic, lemon juice, salt,smoke flavoring, and pepper. Process until smooth, stopping several times to scrape down sides of work bowl and adding more cooking liquid if mixture seems too thick. Transfer to serving bowl and stir in basil and sage.

Serving Suggestion:

"I eat this in a pita loaf, sometimes with chicken," writes Ogden Hall. "The author reccomends it spread on a cold lamb sandwich with tomato and arugula. It also makes a good veggie dip. The original recipe also calls for a carrot, peeled and cut crosswise into three peices, added and discarded the same times as the 1/2 onion. I don't use the carrot as that would be a SB [Sugar Busters!] no-no."


The source is an e-mail message from Ogden Hall to the Sweetalk mailing list, which supports the Sugar Busters! diet. Ogden writes that his recipe was based on Pamela Morgan's Flavors by Pamela Morgan and Micheal McLaughlin (Viking Press, April 1998).

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Last modified: January 11, 2001

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