Bengali Cholar Dal / Cholar Dal Narkel Diye

Today's recipe of cholar dal comes from the Bengal region and was included in my Bengali thaali that I posted in September. Cholar dal is a traditional dal prepared in Bengalis homes using chana dal / split chickpeas, ghee toasted coconut and spices. It is not every day kind f dal but usually meant for festive meals like Durga puja bhog and special occasions. This savory and subtly sweet dal does not contain any vegetables and the preparation is quite simple and straight forward. 

It doesn't contain the panch phoran, the traditional five spice mix that is frequently used in Bengali cooking but uses other whole spices.  This flavor filled dal is unique with an inviting addition of toasted coconut slices and raisins along with sugar. I found it interesting and the dal very enjoyable with a slight crunch of those crispy coconut pieces and raisins in each bite. It can be served with luchi, a Bengali puffed bread, rice, khichdi or pulao. 

Ingredients:
1/2 cup split chickpeas / chana dal
1 - 2 tbsp. ghee
2 tbsp. fresh coconut pieces
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 or 3 cardamom
1 tsp. ginger paste / grated ginger
2 dried red chili
1 pinch of asafoetida
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. cumin powder
1/4 tsp. garam masala powder
1/2 tsp. sugar
(I added 1/4 tsp. chili powder as well which is optional.)

Directions:
* Rinse and soak chana dal for a couple of hours. Drain the water used to soak the dal. Pressure cook chana dal adding about 1.5 cups water, for 3 or 4 whistles. The dal should be cooked such that it doesn't turn mushy but still hold some shape. (I had about a cup of cooked dal along with water.) 

* Heat ghee in a pan. Fry coconut pieces and raisins separately and keep aside.

* To the same ghee, add cumin seeds, bay leaf, red chili, cinnamon, and cardamom. Saute for few seconds and add asafoetida and ginger paste. Cook on low flame for about a minute.
 
* Next add the cooked chana dal along with the water, turmeric, salt, chili powder, and sugar. (The toasted coconut and raisins are also added at this point but I decided to add them at the end.) Cook the mixture until it thickens.
* Add cumin powder and garam masala at the final stages and cook for a minute and turn off the stove

* Garnish with the fried coconut pieces and raisins and serve it warm with rice / khichdi or luchi.


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