Chicken Dalcha

Dalcha is a north Indian stew with lentils and meats - the variations are endless. 

makes ~4 cups


¾ cup channa dal

4 Tbsp ghee

1 tsp mustard seeds

10-15 kari leaves

2 cups chopped onions

4 chicken thighs or legs, skinless bone in

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp turmeric

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tsp chili powder

2 Tbsp ginger purée

1 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves

3 cups water + more if needed.

1 cup coconut milk

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

juice of one lemon


  1. Rinse the channa dal 2-3 times in cold water. Soak in cold water for 30-45 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a heavy bottom stock pot, heat up the ghee and pop the mustard seeds. Add the kari leaves and onions and sauté until light golden in color. Add chicken pieces, turmeric, black pepper & salt. Cook on high heat for 5-7 minutes allowing the spices to coat the chicken. 
  3. Then add the chili powder, ginger purée and dried fenugreek - cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the drained channa dal and water. Cover the pot and cook on low-medium heat for 30-40 minutes (stir every 5 minutes) or until the lentils are tender and the chicken is cooked through. Add the coconut milk and continue cooking. If the lentils appear dry, add more water.  Then stir in the cilantro, lemon juice and serve. 

ideas / variations

  • Use any lentils in your pantry - cook time may vary.  
  • For a vegetarian option, replace chicken with large chunks of butternut squash. 
  • Use moong or masoor dal instead of channa.