Calcutta Dal

A dal is simply a generic word for any split lentils, peas, or beans cooked with spices and seasonings. The type in this recipe, channa, is a split chickpea! A hearty and comforting dish that is like a blank canvas. Spice it up with your favorites.

makes ~4 cups


2 cups channa dal, soaked and drained

5 cups water

¾ tsp turmeric

2 Tbsp ginger purée 

1 tsp salt (plus more to taste)

¾ tsp jaggery

½ Tbsp serrano purée (or minced serrano) 


4 Tbsp mustard oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp fennel seeds

½ tsp kalonji seeds

¼ tsp fenugreek seeds

Small pinch asafoetida

2 Tbsp kari leaves, roughly chopped



  1. Soak the channa dal in cold water for 2-3 hours. Drain and add 5 cups of fresh water . Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower heat, add turmeric, ginger and salt then cover and cook until tender (~40 minutes). 
  2. Turn off the heat & stir in jaggery & serrano purée. Stir to combine.
  3. Mix all of the spice seeds together for the pop. Heat up mustard oil and pop the cumin, mustard, fennel, kalonji, fenugreek seeds & asafoetida. After the seeds pop, turn off the heat &add the kari leaves. Add this to the dal and stir to combine.
  4. Serve & enjoy!

ideas / variations

  • Mix 2 parts dal with one part peanut butter and spread on toast for breakfast and top with cilantro or other herbs. 
  • Serve with your favorite basmati rice or as an accompaniment to a salad. 
  • No jaggery? Or asafoetida? Use honey & garlic respectively.