Cholar Dal (Bengali Style Chana Dal)

4.67 from 6 votes

Cholar Dal (Bengali Style Chana Dal) is a traditional Bengali lentil dish prepared from chana dal (Bengal gram lentil), ghee, coconut, and a few spices. It is sweet and savory and is best paired with luchi or steamed rice.

If you like Bengali recipes, try more from my blog: Bengali Chicken Curry, Bengali Aloo Dum, Bengali Style Veg Pulao, Jhal Muri, Kosha Mangsho, and Basanti Pulao.

Bengali Cholar Dal served in a bowl.
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

We have had many Bengali friends at every stage of our lives. One common thing between them is that they all love their food and are so proud of it, and why not? Bengali cuisine is one of the finest and is still one of the most important factors binding the community together.

My first encounter with cholar dal was at a friend’s house in Banda, the city I grew up in. Her family had invited some relatives, and my friend asked me to join.

I was awestruck when I saw the lunch table; it was loaded with so much variety of food that I don’t even remember everything there. I quickly loaded my plate with Luchi, Cholar Dal, Aloor Dum, and various Mishti (Sweets) and instantly went into a food coma.

About Cholar Dal

Cholar Dal (Bengali Chana Dal, Chholar Dal) is a Bengali delicacy made using split Bengal gram (chana dal), fresh coconut, and a few other ingredients.

Each Bengali household has its own way of making it. Some make it Niramish, i.e., without onions and garlic, and others with onions and garlic.

Cholar dal can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, along with luchi (Bengali poori), kochuri, porotta, or polao.

Healthy, easy to make, light on the stomach, and super delicious, this lentil dish has perfectly balanced sweet and savory flavors and is unique from other dal recipes.

Make this Bengali cholar dal recipe for everyday meals, special occasions, or festivals like Durga Puja.

You can cook the dal in a traditional stovetop pressure cooker or an instant pot. I am sharing both methods in the post below.

This vegetarian recipe can be easily doubled or tripled. I made it in my 3-quart instant pot (or a 3-liter pressure cooker). If you are scaling it, use a bigger instant pot or pressure cooker. The cooking time will remain the same.

Ingredients

Dal – Cholar dal is prepared with chana dal (split Bengal gram).

Turmeric powder and salt are added to the dal while cooking.

Coconut – To add a unique flavor, fry some fresh coconut slices and add them to the dal.

Tempering – This dal is tempered with ghee (or mustard oil), cumin seeds, asafetida (hing), fresh ginger, green chilies, raisins (kishmish), and sugar.

Whole spices like dry red chilies, cloves (laung), cinnamon (dalchini), green cardamom (hari elaichi), and bay leaf (tejpatta) give the dal a lovely flavor.

You will also need spice powders like coriander powder, roasted cumin powder, and garam masala powder.

You can adjust the green chilies as per your taste.

If you can get your hand on Bengali ghee, nothing is like it. You should be able to get it online or in any Indian grocery store near you.

Use oil in place of ghee to make this dal vegan.

How To Make Cholar Dal

Cook The Dal

In A Traditional Pressure Cooker

Wash 1 cup channa dal with water a few times and drain the water.

Soak the dal in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes.

Soaked chana dal.

Drain the water, add the soaked dal to a pressure cooker with the following ingredients, and stir gently.

  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Soaked dal, water, salt and turmeric added to a pressure cooker.

Close the lid and pressure cook for one whistle on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.

Note – This dal is slightly thicker in consistency and not mushy like other Indian lentils. So please do not add a lot of water to it while cooking.

Lid of the cooker closed.

Once cooked, remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally.

Open the lid of the cooker. The dal should not be mushy after cooking. It should still hold its shape but is cooked well.

Cooked dal.

In An Instant Pot

Wash 1 cup chana dal with water a few times and drain the water.

Soak the dal in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes.

Drain the water, add the soaked dal to an instant pot with the following ingredients, and stir gently.

  • 2 and ½ cups of water
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Close the instant pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position.

Press the PRESSURE COOK button and set the timer to 15 minutes at high pressure.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.

Release the remaining pressure manually and then open the lid.

Temper The Dal

Heat 3 tablespoon ghee in a skillet over medium-high heat. 

Ghee heating in a pan.

Once the ghee is hot, add ¼ cup of thinly sliced fresh coconut and fry until golden brown, frequently stirring for even browning. Remove the browned slices to a plate.

Fried coconut slices.

In the same ghee, add the following ingredients and fry for 5-6 seconds.

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida
  • 4-5 whole dry red chilies
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 whole green cardamom
  • 2 bay leaves
Whole spices added to the pan.

Add 1 teaspoon grated ginger and 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies and fry for another 5-6 seconds.

Ginger and green chillies added to the pan.

Now add the following ingredients and fry for 2-3 seconds. Do not over-fry; otherwise, the spices might burn.

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
Coriander powder, cumin powder and garam masala powder added to the pan.

Pour the tempering over the cooked dal. Add fried coconut slices, 2 tablespoon raisins, and 1 teaspoon sugar, and mix well.

Check for salt and add more if needed.

Tempering poured over the cooked dal along with raisins, sugar and fried coconut.

Serve hot.

Ready cholar dal.

Pro Tips By Neha

As a North Indian, I am reluctant to add sugar to savory recipes, but a hint of sugar elevates the taste to the next level. So do not miss adding that bit of sugar, however reluctant you may be.

This dal is supposed to be thick, like a latpati sabzi, so do not use excess water.

You Might Also Like

GFIndian Gluten FreeVIndian Vegan

Tok Dal

Cholar Dal (Bengali Style Chana Dal) is a traditional Bengali lentil dish prepared from chana dal (Bengal gram lentil), ghee, coconut, and a few spices. It is sweet and savory and is best paired with luchi or steamed rice.
4.67 from 6 votes

Cholar Dal Recipe (Bengali Style Chana Dal)

Cholar Dal (Bengali Style Chana Dal) is a traditional Bengali lentil dish prepared from chana dal (Bengal gram lentil), ghee, coconut, and a few spices. It is sweet and savory and is best paired with luchi or steamed rice.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Soaking Time: 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

To Cook The Dal

  • 1 cup chana dal (split Bengal gram lentils)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For Tempering

  • 3 tablespoons ghee (use mustard oil for a vegan recipe)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh coconut
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing) (skip for a gluten-free recipe)
  • 4-5 whole dry red chilies
  • 3-4 cloves (laung)
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 2-3 whole green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
  • 2 whole bay leaves (tejpatta)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoons raisins (kishmish)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Want to save this recipe?
Just enter your email and get it sent to your inbox! Plus you’ll get new recipes from us every week!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Instructions 

Cook The Dal

    In A Traditional Pressure Cooker

    • Wash the dal with water a few times and drain the water.
    • Soak the dal in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes.
    • Drain the water and add the soaked dal to a pressure cooker along with 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, and salt, Stir gently.
    • Pressure cook for one whistle on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.
    • Once cooked, remove the cooker from heat and let the pressure release naturally.

    In An Instant Pot

    • Wash chana dal with water a few times and drain the water.
    • Soak the dal in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes.
    • Drain the water and add the soaked dal to an instant pot along with 2 and ½ cups of water, turmeric powder, and salt, and stir gently.
    • Close the lid of the instant pot and set the valve to the sealing position.
    • Press the PRESSURE COOK button and set the timer to 15 minutes at high pressure.
    • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
    • Release the remaining pressure manually and then open the lid.

    Temper The Dal

    • Heat ghee in a skillet over medium-high heat. 
    • Once the ghee is hot, add coconut and fry until golden brown, stirring frequently for even browning. Remove the browned slices to a plate.
    • In the same ghee, add cumin seeds, asafetida, dry red chilies, cloves, cinnamon, green cardamoms, and bay leaves, and fry for 5-6 seconds.
    • Add ginger and green chilies and fry for another 5-6 seconds.
    • Now add coriander powder, cumin powder, and garam masala and fry for 2-3 seconds. Do not over-fry; otherwise, the spices might burn.
    • Pour the tempering over the cooked dal. Add fried coconut slices, raisins, and sugar, and mix well.
    • Check for salt and add more if needed.
    • Serve hot.

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    This dal is slightly thicker in consistency and not mushy like other Indian lentils. So make sure not to add much water to it while cooking.
    I make this recipe in my 3-quart instant pot (or a 3-liter stovetop pressure cooker). If you are scaling the recipe, use a 6-quart instant pot (or a 5-liter pressure cooker). The cooking time will remain the same.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 337kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 28mg, Sodium: 20mg, Potassium: 692mg, Fiber: 16g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 445IU, Vitamin C: 67.5mg, Calcium: 38mg, Iron: 5mg
    Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

    Leave a comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Recipe Rating




    9 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      Simple and delicious. Substituted dessicated coconut for fresh coconut slices and omitted the raisins. Even my 2 year old enjoyed it with rice. Paired it with your baingan bhaja recipe. An easy and tasty lockdown meal.