Chholar dal

Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Bengali Cooking: Seasons & Festivals

Bengali Cooking

By Chitrita Banerji

Published 1997

  • About


For Chholar dal to feed four people, my mother would weigh out 250 g (½ lb) of yellow split peas and cook them in the pressure cooker with double the amount of water, 3 bay leaves and 3 whole red chillies. She left the cooker for about fifteen to twenty minutes on a high flame. By then the cooked dal would be of a thickish consistency and the individual grains would be soft but unbroken. This she would empty out in a bowl and set aside. Then she would take one half of a whole coconut and pry out half the flesh from the shell. The brown skin at the back would be painstakingly peeled with a sharp knife. If you find this too hard, you can try soaking the coconut for ten minutes in a bowl of hot water. Once peeled, the coconut would be chopped into tiny pieces and fried in 2 tablespoons of sizzling mustard oil in a large karai until they turned pink. She would add teaspoons of whole cumin seeds to the coconut and fry them for a couple of minutes before adding ½ teaspoon of ginger paste, ½ teaspoon of ground chilli, 1 teaspoon each of fresh ground cumin and coriander and salt to taste. Once all this had been fried for two to three minutes, she would pour the dal into the karai. (On bad days when there were no freshly ground spices and she had to fall back on powdered spices, she would pour in the dal after frying the coconut and the whole cumin, adding the other spices later.) The dal would be checked for salt, 400 ml (13 fl oz) of water added and the whole mixture assiduously stirred until the grains were smashed. Some sugar, about 3 teaspoons, would be added; this is a dal in which the sweetness should be a little pronounced. Just before removing the dal from the fire, she would add 1 tablespoon of ghee and 2 teaspoons of ground garom mashla.