Chana Dhal

Channa Dhal

So good!

Chana dhal is such a popular side dish at UK curry houses. It’s also quite good served on its own.

The first time I made a really good chana dhal, I was visiting Prashad in Bradford, the award winning vegetarian Indian restaurant.

The head chef Minal showed me her recipe and it was amazing. She used about four different types of lentils. Each of the lentils were cooked separately and then finally blended together with all the other ingredients.

I have since seen similar recipes made many times and cook them often at home too. Usually, the chana dhal you get at a curry house is made simply from chana lentils. I love this recipe and think you will find it very close if not exactly like the chana dhal you order at your favourite Indian restaurant.

Making chana dhal

The lentils need to be soaked for a good long while.

Making chana dhal

When cooking, be sure to skim all the foam off.

Making chana dhal

Then just let the lentils simmer until soft.

Making chana dhal

Meanwhile, make your tarka.

Making chana dhal

The fried onions are so good stirred into the dhal.

Making chana dhal

Don’t forget your spices.

Making chana dhal

Stir the tarka in when the lentils are good and soft.

Chana dhal

The perfect side dish.


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Chana Dhal - Yellow Split Lentils - A Popular Curry House Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 300g dry chana dhal – soaked in water for two hours
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 pinch asafetida
  • 1 - 5 green/red chillies – finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes roughly chopped
  • ½ onion - finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala
  • salt to taste
  1. Rinse the lentils in several changes of water and then place in a saucepan with 700ml water.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and drizzle about a tablespoon of oil on top to stop the water from foaming over the top.
  3. Skim any foam that does form. Reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are soft - about 45 - 60 minutes. Do not strain. Allow the water to reduce down.
  4. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, melt the ghee over medium high heat. Toss in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and asafetida. Fry for about 30 seconds and then add the chopped garlic and chilli and sprinkle with a little.
  5. Stir in the chopped onion and fry until the onion is soft and translucent.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric, coriander powder and cumin powder.
  7. Your channa dhal is ready when the lentils are nice and soft. You can serve it like this or do as many chefs and blend the lentils until creamy.
  8. Whisk the onion and ghee mixture into the lentils and sprinkle in the garam masala.
  9. To serve, top with a little chopped coriander and a little more garam masala if you like.

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    • Dan Toombs says

      Thanks Keith

      This recipe will be in my upcoming e-book so if you think it can be improved in any way, please let me know.

  1. VENKAT says

    are these dry channa. in that case should they not be soaked in water overnight.????????

    in North India the;y also add garam masala powder

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Venkat

      I have used dry channa that needed to be soaked overnight. The last batch I purchased didn’t need to be soaked. I’m not sure why. I recommend following the instructions on the package. I am currently writing an ebook where I have added garam masala. It does bring out the flavours.

      Have you seen the garam masala recipes on my site?

      Thank you for stopping by.


  2. Fred Toombs says

    Hi Dan, is it possible to add “Print the recipe” it would help since I collect all of the Indian, Thai recipes on hard copy


    Fred Toombs

  3. Adila says

    Hi, I tried this recipe and it was delicious!
    Perfect for a novice like me. Will be trying some of the others
    too. Thank you!

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