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Chana Dal

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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.




Yield: 4

Chana Dhal - Yellow Split Lentils - A Popular Curry House Side Dish

Chana Dhal - Yellow Split Lentils - A Popular Curry House Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 300g dry chana dhal – soaked in water for two hours
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 pinch asafetida
  • 1 - 5 green/red chillies – finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic – finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 1/2 onion - finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 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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Sunday 5th of September 2021

Why is there no Fresh coriander in this?

Dan Toombs

Monday 6th of September 2021

Feel free to add some if you like. Dan


Tuesday 15th of March 2016

many thanks cooked this dish for tonights tea and it was really smashing, very fragrant, shall use again!

Dan Toombs

Friday 8th of July 2016

Thank you very much Kate. Really glad you liked it. :-)


Claire Jones

Sunday 15th of July 2012

Should the chillies be added whole or chopped?


Saturday 25th of February 2012

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!

Dan Toombs

Sunday 26th of February 2012

Thank you very much for that Adila. I'm really glad you liked it!

Fred Toombs

Thursday 23rd of February 2012

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

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