Urad & Chana Dal Masala (Spicy Punjabi Dal)

Urad & Chana Dal Masala otherwise known as “Maa Chole ki Dal” is one that is commonly relished in Punjabi households. Made from tempering a combination of split urad dal and chana dal (split bengal gram) lentils in a typical Punjabi masala, this dish never fails to satisfy at dinner time! This is a favourite of my Pops, especially when served with red onion, raw mango pickle and fresh hot tandoori chappatis. Creamy in texture and spicy in flavour, it’s not hard to see why it tops his list (well..he doesn’t actually have a list..but if he did, it would!). Check out the recipe below. Comments/tweets are always appreciated!

Serves 4

What we need:
1/2 cup split urad dal lentils
1/2 cup chana dal lentils (aka split bengal gram)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 onion, finely chopped
2″ ginger, peeled and grated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes plus 3 tbsp juice (from tin)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
Handful fresh coriander


How to: 

  • Soak both lentils in water overnight. Wash well and rinse.
  • Add the washed lentils to a pressure cooker. Add approx 4 cups of water, 1 tsp of salt and the turmeric powder. When the first whistle goes, cook for a further 20-25 minutes. (If you do not have a pressure cooker, cook lentils in a pan with approx 5-6 cups of water. Cook them until they are tender and slightly mushy in texture.
  • Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds begin to splatter, add the onions. Now add 1 tsp of salt and mix continuously until the onions begin to brown slightly. Once light golden, add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Mix well.
  • Now add the garam masala, paprika and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes at this point and mash them well with a wooden spoon. Continue to mix and cook for 2 minutes.
  • When you begin to see the oil separate from the masala, add the coriander and mix. You are now ready to add the masala to the cooked lentils. Once you have added the masala to the dal, mix well and add approx 1 cup water (or according to how thin/thick you would like your dal to be).
  • Bring to boil on high heat, mixing every 1-2 minutes. Turn off heat. Check for salt and adjust accordingly.
  • Serve with fresh chapatis and salad.


10 thoughts on “Urad & Chana Dal Masala (Spicy Punjabi Dal)

  1. Pingback: Punjabi dal
  2. Hi Monica! This looks amazing and I’d love to try it but I’d need to track down urad dal – do you have any recommendations on Indian grocery stores in Manchester? I live in the city centre and don’t drive, so ideally close to public transport!

    1. Hi Emma,

      I’d recommend checking out the “world food” aisle of your local supermarket. Failing that, I’d suggest taking a bus to Cheetham Hill Road (it’s only a few minutes from the city centre)-there are lots of Asian grocery stores there or alternatively Wilmslow Road. Hope this helps! Monica :)

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