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Alan's Chana Dal


  • 1 1/2 cups chana dal
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 1/4-inch slices of fresh ginger
  • teaspoon of dried turmeric
  • 1 head garlic
  • cayenne to taste
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • tomatoes and onions (optional)


Check over and clean the chana dal and place in a heavy, coverable pot. Add water, ginger, and turmeric. Bring to a boil over medium heat, skim, and reduce to a low simmer (covered).

After an hour, remove the top and stir every 5 minutes or so for a total of 1/2 hour. It will have thickened up nicely and want to stick near the end. Remove the 2 ginger slices.

In another pan, prepare the seasoning. A little peanut or canola oil in a non-stick fry pan works well. Fry a head of garlic cloves (peeled and chopped), some cayenne, cumin seeds and salt. You can also add garam masala, an Indian spice mixture that varies by region.

Brown them all, then dump the whole thing into the simmering dal and clamp the lid on. Careful here, because the hot oil can splash you. Cook for a few minutes and serve over hot spiced basmati rice. You can also use tomatoes and onions.


Recipe by Alan Feldman.

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Last modified: September 4, 2004

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