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Viji's Chana Dal


"I loved your article on chana dal and I'd love to add to your repertoire of recipes," writes Viji Sashikant. "One odd thing I found in all the recipes listed was that there is no mention of pressure cooking. Believe it or not, the pressure cooker is every woman's best friend in India. I now live in Chicago and use a small stainless steel pressure cooker that I bought in Bombay."


  • 1 cup chana dal
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp hing (asafoetida) powder
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger root, julienned
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • a handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves

  • Boil the chana dal in the pressure cooker (takes about 15 minutes).
  • In a large saucepan, add the oil and mustard seeds till the seeds splutter. Add the hing, onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno and fry on medium heat till onions are lightly brown. Then add all the powders—turmeric, chili, cumin and coriander, and the stick of cinnamon. Sauté for a minute and then add the tomatoes. Cover the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes till tomatoes are mushy and cooked. Add the cooked dal and enough hot water to make a stew-like consistency. Season with salt and sugar and cook on low heat for 10 minutes (by the clock!).
  • Remove from heat, add lemon juice and serve garnished with coriander leaves.
  • Serve with rice or chappatis or tortillas, with wedges of tomato and sliced onions.

Contributed by Viji Sashikant of Chicago, Illinois.

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Last modified: August 31, 2003

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