Cholar Dal is a quintessential Bengali Dal that we prepare during any special occasion and especially during the festive season. We prepare this dal with Bengal gram (chana dal) and it has a beautiful flavor blend of sweet and savory. Paired with Luchi, this is such an indulging hearty meal.
We enjoy this classic Cholar Dal during breakfast, lunch or dinner. Filled with warm flavors, this Bengali Chana Dal comes together super quick and with very minimal ingredients.
The texture of the dal is prepared based on what you are pairing it with. The dal tastes good with rice or luchi or paratha.
You keep it more soupy if you are enjoying it with rice and make it into a thicker stew if you are serving with Luchi.
My favorite way to enjoy Cholar Dal is with Luchi, and so I keep the texture thick.
Pure Vegetarian Cholar Dal
Every family makes dal a little different based on how spicy they want it and what texture they prefer.
I personally prefer the Pure Vegetarian Cholar Dal without any onion and garlic.
Spices Used in this Bengali Chana Dal
- Bengali five spice - Paanch Phoron - Link to the recipe
- Bhaja Moshla - A unique three spice blend spice mixes used in several vegetarian recipes. Link to the recipe
- Cinnamon Stick
- Green Cardamoms
Few Key Ingredients that make this Dal so interesting:
- Sliced Coconut
Split Bengal Gram (chana dal) is very commonly confused with Split Pigeon Peas (toor dal). They both look very similar, except the Bengal gram is chunkier and doesn’t cook down to creamy or mushy.
It’s kept whole and soft, giving a beautiful texture at every spoonful.
Just how Dal Makhani is a specialty in North Indian wedding and special occasions, we Bengalies love our Cholar Dal the exact same way.
The sweetness from coconut and raisins works beautifully with the earthy chana dal. Making it so very comforting!
Pro-tip to prepare Cholar Dal
Soak the Split Bengal Gram overnight and then boil, so the texture comes out perfect. You want to see the texture of the dal, but it should also just melt in mouth.
Since there are no onion added, you want to mix the dry spices with water before adding to the wok. This will avoid the spices getting burnt in hot oil.
The dal is typically prepared in mustard oil for the pungent aroma. But at the end, add a little ghee.
Once you soak and boil the dal which in my opinion takes more amount of time. The rest of the cooking happens effortlessly with almost no chopping at all. This festive season give this Cholar Dal a try!
- ½ cup Chana Dal (Split Bengal Gram)
- 1 inch fresh ginger (finely grated)
- Few coconut slices (sliced in tiny pieces)
- ¼ cup cashew
- Few raisins
- 2 green chili
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon panch phoron (Indian five spice)
- 3 green cardamoms
- few cloves
- 1 teaspoon Bengali Bhaja Moshla (link in notes)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons mustard oil
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- Sat and sugar as per taste
- Soak the chana dal in water overnight.
- Boil the dal but don't make it mushy. You want it to hold the texture.
- In a bowl, add the bhaja moshla and turmeric with little water and whisk.
- In a heavy bottom wok, add the oil and heat it up. Then add the coconut slices and roast it to golden. Also roast the cashew. Take both out of the wok and keep aside to be used later.
- To the wok at medium heat, add the whole spices (bay leaves, cardamoms and clove and panch phoron) and stir for few seconds. Then add the spice paste that was kept aside and keep stirring for few seconds. Add the grated ginger and continue stirring.
- Add the boiled dal and mix it around. Season with salt and add some sugar. Now add the green chili, toasted coconut and cashew along with the raisins.
- Let it simmer for 10 minutes.
- Once done, taste for salt and add more if needed.
- Finally, add the ghee.
- You can make some extra toasted coconut slices to garnish on top.
Fabulous pictures to accompany one of my favourite Bengali dals. Surprised that you haven't mentioned Cholar Dal and Luchi! I love Cholar Dal with Pulao or Luchi or 'Karaishutir kochuri'!
I think we can all relate to the blogging issues. It's never easy. But my philosophy about blogging is similar to Ray -- take it as something you love doing, and it'll never equate to "work" 🙂
This recipe has "comfort" written all over it!
That sounds delicious! I've never heard of Indian five spice before but now I am quite intrigued!
Kankana, I could flip through a book of your photography for hours and not get bored. You fill your blog with such beauty, really.
i totally relate to what you said about blogging. it doesn't mean you don't love it or don't have fun to admit that it can also be hard.
but i am happy you do it, because you make it look easy.
wok with ray
Someone once told me. . . "If you love what you do, you are not working." That got stuck in my mind all these years and the same with food blogging. I treat it as fun activity or hobby but never a job because if I do . . . I am working for free. I don't think anyone likes to work for free unless it's for charity. But you don't need to worry about any of these because I think you are a "natural." You have the natural ability to see and to create all of these delicious food arts that amaze everyone including me, Kankana.
stunning pics of dal. i love the way you frame and compose your pics.
Dal has always been special comfort food. My brother and I used to laugh at my mum when her cure to everything was a good dal! But now i totally agree. Whenever I miss them i make a good dal. Yours looks gorgeous!
The colors are so brilliant, would love to have it as an entry for the Holi event in my blog.
I never used panch phoron in cholar dal, I always do it with jeera. Will try panch phoron the next time I make it.
Had this in Kolkata recently! The coconut slices and sweet-spices are new to me.
Laura (Tutti Dolci)
Beautiful images! I love the flavors in your dal :).
Without sounding like an idiot-is this the dal that is so often found on Indian buffets? I love that one and would love to figure out if this might work. I too, find dal very homey and wholesome.