Simple Chana Dal

I like it thick, but you can thin it down and make it into a soup

Serve with rice/ chapattis and vegetables for a substantial meal

As I was listening to a radio discussion on "comfort" foods I noticed that home-made soup was a very popular one. I also realised that hot, soup-y dal is one of my own favourite Winter "comfort" foods, as it is warming on the coldest of days, and reminds me of my mum. This chana dal will suit everyone: in our house some of us like a little chilli, some of us like a lot and some of us don't like chilli at all, so I leave the chilli out of dals and put red chilli powder out as a condiment at mealtimes so everyone can add their own to their plates. This is a really easy and basic recipe- you can add some extra flavours of your own if you like. I prefer chana dal to yellow mung dal, as it's more hearty and satisfying.

These quantities easily served 6 of us as an accompaniment. If you serve it alone or just with chapattis it would probably serve 4 or 5 people.
1 1/2 cups (250ml=1 cup) chana dal
6 cups water
10 larg cherry tomatoes (4 or 5 ordinary-sized ones)
2 tsps seasalt
3 tsps turmeric (haldi)
1 tab cumin seeds
1 tab powdered coriander seed
1 heaped tsp powdered ginger (or the equivalent in fresh ginger root)
1 tsp hing
2 tabs peanut oil

  • Cook the dal in the water until soft and starting to break down. I always use a pressure cooker as it's so quick and you don't need to pre-soak the dal. (Tip: don't add salt when cooking pulses as it greatly delays softening.)
  • If you like, you can use a good old-fashioned potato masher to break the dal down a little further.
  • At this point, if you have pressure-cooked the dal you may want to add 2 more cups of water.
  • Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan with the salt and turmeric, all the while keeping it gently simmering on a low heat.
  • In a small pan, heat the oil and cook the cumin seeds until they release their aroma and are just browning (be careful not to overbrown them, or the dal will taste scorched). Remove from the heat and stir in the hing, ginger and coriander.
  • Add to the dal and see it sizzle!
  • Continue to simmer until the tomatoes have broken down and the dal has thickened somewhat, according to your taste.
  • Make sure it is served piping hot.
So what's your favourite comfort food, and why? Please use the comments below to tell me.


  1. Dal is a comfort food for me.

    I'm sorry...I should have informed you earlier, it just got off my head... I haven't received the book yet.


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