‘Cholar Dal’ is a festive dal that is often made for celebrations in Bengal homes. ‘Cholar Dal’ and ‘Luchi’ or ‘Peas Kachori’ is made for special occasions like wedding, festival, pujas or a special guest.
‘Cholar Dal’ is made with chana dal or split Bengal gram. The ‘dal’ is slightly sweet and fragrant due to the addition of whole spices or garam masala like bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. I like to use chopped coconut in this ‘dal’ as it gives additional flavor. You can skip the coconut if you don’t have it. You may use raisins and cashews too. This Bengali festive ‘dal’ does not have onion or garlic added to it. ‘Cholar Dal’ is usually made thick unlike other Indian ‘dals’ like, if you prefer you can make the ‘dal’ with medium or slightly thin consistency. Traditionally ‘Cholar Dal’ is always accompanied with ‘Luchi’ or ‘Kachori’. I think even just plain steamed basmati rice or jeera rice would be great with this dal.
- Soak the dal for 2-3 hours in water. If you want to reduce the soaking time, then heat water and soak the dal in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain the water.
- Add the soaked chana dal, turmeric powder and 3 cups water in the pressure cooker.
- On a medium to high flame pressure cook the dal for 4-5 whistles. The grains should be separate and yet cooked thoroughly. Once the pressure settles down on its own then remove the lid.
- Heat oil in a pan. First add all the whole spices – cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and dry red chilies. Fry till you get nice aroma. Add the asafetida and fry for a few seconds.
- Now add the chopped coconut and fry till the coconut becomes light brown. If you are using grated coconut add it at the end.
- Add ginger paste and fry till the raw smell goes off.
- Pour the boiled dal and mix well.
- Stir and then add cumin powder, red chili powder, sugar, salt, raisins and cashews.
Simmer cholar dal for 5 minutes more.
- Add grated coconut (if you are using grated coconut) and ghee.
- Serve Cholar Dal with Luchi, Koraishutir Kachori and even steamed rice if you prefer.