Every now and then, when I am chitchatting with my friends, the very first question is always about food. They like to discuss what I made for dinner, which recipe would I be sharing next and if it would be sweet or savory. Some even desire to be in my shoes and wish they could appreciate cooking as much I do. They share stories about how I encouraged them to bake a cake or make a simple soup. They always motivate me and I feel blessed!
Food Blogging is hard and only a food blogger can understand why I used that word instead of just saying fun. I don’t blame people who think it’s the easiest job or hobby one can have. It’s no math or biology and I agree to that, but it truly needs every bit of creative juice running inside you to blend properly with your enthusiasm and passion to bring out something good enough to share with the world. Food Blogging is beautiful fusion of hard work and fun.
Please don’t get me wrong here, I am not ranting, just sharing some thoughts along with a humble dal that I grew up gobbling a lot.
Back at my parents place, dal is prepared every single day, one kind or the other. Sometime it’s cooked thin so that one can sip and sometimes it’s so thick that would need a spoon to ladle. There was a time when I would never refer daal as a soup cause it was always eaten with rice or roti but these days, at times, even we treat it like a soup and dunk our bread in it.
This daal is different. I like to eat this only with white rice. It reminds me of home and of childhood. It also reminds of the time when I used to eat just because I had to and not because I love to. My life didn’t revolve around food back then.
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.
Mom prepares multiple dishes with Chana Daal but this one is my favorite and it’s called Cholaar Dal in Bengali. The recipe is simple, uncomplicated and flavored with Indian five-spice Paanch Phoron. Even though it’s a savory dish, at times it’s sweetened with a tad bit with sugar, raisins, dates and even fresh coconut. I like it plain, with just a pinch of sugar and chunky coconuts on top.
The other day, a friend asked me if there is always a feast spread out on my dinning table. I wish that was true but it’s not. A simple veggie stir-fry or a daal like this one happens more often. Cholar dal is my go-to dish on most busy weekdays, or a lazy one and sometimes I make it just because it takes me back home.
- 1 cup chana dal
- 1/2 tablespoon Indian five-spice
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 inch ginger grated
- 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes, roughly chopped to bite size
- 1 tablespoon oil
- salt to taste
- chopped cilantro to garnish on top
- Soak the chana dal in water overnight.
- Pressure cooker method of boiling the dal – Rinse dal and put it in the cooker along with enough water and 1 teaspoon salt. The thumb rule says the water level should be 1 cm above the dal. Cover the lid and let it cook in medium heat until you hear three whistles. Remove from heat and let it rest for 10 minutes or so before you open the lid. Be very careful while doing so as hot steam will come out as soon you open the lid.
- Boiling the dal in a deep sauce pan – Rinse dal and put it in the pan with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring it to boil and then let it simmer until the dal is soft. Add more water in the process, if required.
- Once dal is boiled, keep it aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a deep pan or wok. Add bay leaves and five-spice. Give it a couple of seconds for the spice to sizzle and infuse the oil. Now drop the boiled dal and add turmeric. Stir and let it cook for couple of minutes. Add water, if it looks too thick.
- Add sugar, grated ginger and half of the toasted coconut flakes. Check for salt and add any, if required.
- Once done, pour it in the serving bowl, add chopped cilantro and more toasted coconut flakes on top. Serve hot with rice or bread.
- The cooking time will differ if you boil the dal using a pan instead of a pressure cooker.
- Indian five-spice is very easily available in any Indian store. It's also extremely easy to make at home. Follow the link in the ingredient list to learn how to make it at home.