Chana Dhal With Tadka (Split chickpea lentil curry with tempered whole spices)

Golden Tiffin Chana Dhal (2)

Chana dhal is a recipe that will always be comforting and nutritious, particularly during the chilly autumn months! Bengal gram, or split chickpeas, take a little longer to cook than the usual lentil curry but it’s worth it- they’re high in fibre, low in calories and ridiculously cheap! Dhal is usually made in two steps: first by boiling lentils and onions and then adding the tadka (tempering spices in oil and adding to the dhal.) This ‘entry level’ version is a light, everyday recipe which is great for when you’re feeling under the weather and need something easy to digest. I find it best to have with parathas but there have been times where I’ve just slurped on this like a soup!


Recipe by Thahmina |

Cooking Time: 1 hour (plus overnight soak)
Serves: 6-7


  • 1 cup chana dhal, left to soak in 3-4 cups of water overnight
  • 1 tsp ready made garlic and ginger paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp cumin powder
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped coriander, to garnish
  • 2-3 tbsp vegetable oil (for tadka)
  • Ginger juliennes (for tadka)
  • ½ onion, finely sliced (for tadka)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, finely sliced (for tadka)
  • 1 star anise (for tadka)
  • 1 dried red chili (for tadka)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (for tadka)


  1. Rinse the chana dhal in running water before letting it soak overnight. Tip: if you’re in a rush, soak the lentils in the morning in boiling water, ready to cook by lunch time.

  2. Prepare all you ingredients beforehand by chopping and leaving to one side. Separate the dhal and tadka ingredients as they will go in at different times.

  3. Drain the lentils and place in a non-stick saucepan with fresh water, enough to sit above the water by an inch. Bring to a boil over a medium flame. Cook with the lid on for 15 minutes.

  4. Add the tomato, chopped onion, garlic and ginger paste along with the salt and spices. Bring the pulses to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes with the lid covering the pan.

  5. While the dhal is simmering, heat oil in a separate frying pan and add each tadka ingredient in the order above. Add a pinch of salt to help soften the onions. Ginger and garlic take longer to fry whereas star needs only a few seconds!

  6. Turn off the flame for the frying pan, stand a little way away from the simmering dhal and pour in the tadka (oil and all) into the saucepan. Make sure you are pouring away from your body to avoid oil splattering on you!

  7. Stir and serve with generous amount of chopped coriander.