Cholar Dal | Split Chickpea in Whole Spices & Coconut

This bowl of Cholar Dal would have never come to my knowledge if I had not fallen in love with Calcutta or Kolkata food! Simple but flavourful and totally new to me that breaks all the norms of our usual dal curry. Cholar dal is always made using split chickpeas (chana dal). The tempering (tadka) ingredients are what gives Cholar dal a unique taste. Read on to know how and what goes into making a bowl of Cholar dal that pairs so well with chapatis, luchis, pooris, etc. 
Cholar Dal | Split Chickpea in Whole Spices & Coconut

Have you found yourself in a state of absolute zero inspiration? something like “Cooking block” maybe? I did and off late it's too often. My only comfort in those hours is my friends who are just a ping away. It just makes the rest of the day easy. Why is “What to cook today?” taunting me! 

Off late though, I have started to take an approach towards that question – I ask myself – what has to be used up from the pantry? What would mom cook with it? Does F like it? then let’s make that. If he doesn’t – then add cheese. There is no dearth of must-try recipes on my Pinterest board, just that Post Eid and up until now and no idea for how long more - I am taking a very relaxed approach to cooking meals. I think in the process of feeding my blog, I fed us too many calories and we both need to keep a tab on our health now. It is a very thin line between cooking for the blog, or blogging what I cooked! 😛

Cholar Dal | Split Chickpea in Whole Spices & Coconut

Bengal cuisine never fascinated me until I went to my bestie Rajashree’s wedding in Calcutta. That trip changed my outlook on Bengali food! I instantly loved most of their dishes except for the fish fried in mustard oil. Ewwwww. If you haven't read it already, I have her Kosha Mangsho recipe too. Before I bid adieu to Bangalore, I stayed with her for a few days and ate all her signature dish and went to Oh! Calcutta for extra Bengali food fix! 😜

Today’s recipe is her Cholar Dal! I have lost count of times I have made this and each time I want to take a picture, the circumstances were never favourable. Either I have a Hangry man waiting, or the sun refused to stay longer! :-) Even these pictures are taken in the late evening and I am not too happy but I just can’t wait any longer to share them here!

Cholar Dal | Split Chickpea in Whole Spices & Coconut

In these updated images, I have used a Bengali Cotton saree that my same friend gifted and it is the only saree that travelled with me to Yanbu. Such beauty! Cholar dal is made with cooked split chickpeas that are poured into a freshly prepared tempering of whole spices and grated coconut. A richer version is with nuts and raisins. Traditionally served with poori, but I serve with pulkas and rice. It has a unique taste that lingers between savoury and sweet - which we are open to.  

Updated 12th May 2020: I had made this during the Pandemic lockdown and paired it with luchi pooris. 

Cholar Dal | Split Chickpea in Whole Spices & Coconut 


Pressure cook
3/4 cup split chickpeas (channa dal), soaked for at least an hour or two
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 cups of water
Salt to taste

Prepare tadka
1 and 1/2 tablespoons ghee or more
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1" cinnamon stick
3 to 4 cloves
2 to 3 green cardamoms
2 to 3 dried red chillies
a few cashew nuts and raisins
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 heap full tablespoons of grated coconut


  1. Pressure cook the soaked chana dal with the spice powders, salt and water for 3 to 5 whistles
  2. Switch off and let it cool on its own
    1. If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can cook in a pot until channa dal is cooked through and are soft but holds its shape. 
  3. Open the cooker and keep it on a low flame while you prepare the tempering
  4. In a small pot, heat ghee on a medium flame, add all listed items for tadka (not the coconut) and fry them for a few seconds or until fragrant
  5. Finally, add in the grated coconut and saute for a few more minutes until aromatic
  6. Switch off the simmering cooker 
  7. Pour the prepared dal over the tadka and stir immediately or you may do vice versa - pour the tadka over the dal. 
  8. Cover for a minute so the flavours can marry
  9. Serve hot with luchi, or any simple rice, or even methi or onion paratha would go well with this Cholar Dal
Cholar Dal | Split Chickpea in Whole Spices & Coconut

I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then do share the recipe link on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchai so that I can see your creations!