Chana dal, or split chickpeas, can be made into a delightful and comforting soup in the Instant Pot or stovetop. This recipe combines the goodness of split chickpeas with aromatic ginger, garlic, onion, tomato, and flavorful spices. Not only is it easy to make, but it is also vegan and gluten-free.

Chana Dal made in the instant pot served in bowls over rice.
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Looking for dinner ideas for Meatless Monday? Enjoy this delicious & Healthy Chana Dal. It is perfect with a side of steamed broccoli and basmati rice. If you want to pair it with an Indian-style vegetable curry, Aloo Gobi or Saag Paneer are great options.

For vegetarians in India, dal (lentils) is the main component of the meal. A typical meal includes dal, vegetable curry (subzi), roti (flatbread), and/or rice with some salad. And there are enough varieties of dals to prepare a different one each day of the week. If you are curious, check out my collection of 15 Lentil & Bean Recipes in the instant pot.

If you don’t have Chana Dal at hand, you may want to check Dal Fry with Toor DalGreen Moong Dal or Brown Lentil Curry recipe.

Watch How to Make Instant Pot Chana Dal

What is Chana Dal?

Chana Dal is dried brown chickpeas that have been split and skinned. It is also called Split Chickpeas or Bengal Gram. These wonderful little beans pack a powerhouse of nutrients as well as protein into the dish. Chana Dal is also rich in fiber and has a low glycemic index.

Bengal Gram, also called Chana Dal in a white bowl

The best part about lentils is that they are budget-friendly and affordable by all. Chana Dal is usually used as lentil curry in North India and for tempering in South India. But there are other dishes that can be made such as Chana Dal Pilaf or Halwa (sweet pudding).

Curious about pulses used in Indian cooking? Check out my detailed guide about Indian Pulses.

Ingredients

  • Chana dal (split chickpeas): It is a nutritious legume rich in protein, fiber, and essential minerals.
  • Oil:  You can use any cooking oil of your choice.
  • Cumin seeds: They add an earthy flavor to the chana dal. 
  • Asafoetida (hing): It is optional, skip for gluten-free or use gluten-free hing. It adds a unique flavor to the dal.
  • Onion: I used yellow onions. They add sweetness and depth of flavor.
  • Ginger: It adds a subtle heat and flavor to the dish. I use freshly grated ginger.
  • Garlic: It provides a bold and savory taste to the chana dal. I used freshly minced garlic.
  • Tomatoes: Add a tangy and slightly sweet flavor. 
  • Lime juice: Adds a refreshing and tangy taste. 
  • CilantroIt adds a vibrant and herbal touch.
  • Spices: You’ll need turmeric, red chili powder, coriander powder, and salt.

How to cook Chana Dal?

Chana Dal takes a bit longer to cook compared to other split lentils such as Toor Dal or Moong Dal.  I prefer to soak chana dal for about 30 minutes before cooking. However, they will cook just as well with a few extra minutes of pressure cooking without soaking.

Instant Pot Chana Dal

Traditionally Chana Dal was boiled in a pressure cooker and tempering was prepared separately in a pan. Then the boiled dal was added to the tempering and simmered to infuse flavors.

However now with the instant pot, I like to make this as a one-pot dish. Hence in this recipe, I prepare the tempering with ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and spices in the instant pot. Then add the chana dal, and water and cook at high pressure.

  • Heat oil in the instant pot. Then, add cumin seeds and asafoetida.
  • Add the onions, garlic, ginger, and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and spices, and stir them well.
  • Add chana dal and water for cooking. Stir it all up.
  • Pressure Cancel and close the lid with the vent in the sealing position. Pressure cook for the time suggested in the recipe card.
Chana Dal in Instant Pot - before cooking
  • After the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally. Add lime juice and give it a good stir.
Chana Dal in Instant Pot - after cooking
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve chana dal over rice.
instant pot chana dal garnished with cilantro

Stovetop Pressure Cooker Method

  • Follow the same steps as the instant pot method until you close the lid.
  • Place the pressure cooker on the stovetop and cook on medium-high heat.
  • Once the pressure cooker reaches full pressure, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the cooker.
  • Add lime juice, stir well, and garnish with cilantro.
Chana dal in a ladle over the instant pot

Pro-Tips for Best Chana Dal

To enhance the flavors and texture of your chana dal, consider the following pro tips:

  • Soaking the dal before cooking helps reduce the cooking time and ensures even cooking.
  • You can add ghee instead of oil for a richer taste.
  • Adjust the spice levels to your preference. Add more chili powder for extra heat, or reduce it for a milder flavor.
  • If you like to make this even more nutritious, then add some spinach right after the dal is cooked. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. Spinach Chana Dal is ready to be enjoyed.

How to Serve Chana Dal?

It pairs well with a variety of dishes. Here are a few serving suggestions:

Chana dal served over rice in bowls.

How to Store Chana Dal?

If you have any leftovers, store them properly to maintain freshness. Follow these storage guidelines:

  • Allow the dal to cool down completely before storing it.
  • Transfer it to an airtight container or a food storage bag.
  • Refrigerate the dal and consume it within 2-3 days.
  • You can also freeze the cooked chana dal for a longer shelf life. Place it in freezer-safe containers or bags, which can be stored for up to 3 months.

Common Questions

Are split peas and split chickpeas the same? 

No, split peas and split chickpeas are different. Split peas are made from dried peas, while chana dal is made from chickpeas.

Does chana dal need to be soaked?

Soaking chana dal before cooking is recommended but optional. Soaking helps reduce the cooking time and improves the texture of the dal.

Can you freeze cooked chana dal? 

Yes, you can freeze-cooked chana dal. Ensure it is stored in airtight containers or freezer bags to maintain quality. Thaw the frozen dal in the refrigerator before reheating.

More Lentil Recipes You’ll Love

4.89 from 126 votes

Instant Pot Chana Dal

Easy & Delicious Chana Dal made in the Pressure Cooker. Split Chickpeas cooked with ginger, garlic, onion, tomato and flavorful spices, to make a comforting soup. Vegan & Gluten free. 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

Spices

Instructions 

Instant Pot Method

  • Soak Chana dal along with the water for soaking for 30 minutes. Then drain the soaking water.
  • Start the instant pot in sauté mode and heat oil in it. Add cumin seeds and asafoetida. 
  • Once the cumin seeds start to change color, add the onions, garlic, ginger and saute for 2 minutes. 
  • Add tomatoes and spices and stir them well. Add chana dal and water for cooking. Stir it all up. Pressure Cancel and close the lid with the vent in the sealing position.
  • Change the instant pot setting to manual or pressure cook mode at high pressure for 12 mins. If you skipped soaking, cook for 15 minutes at high pressure.  
  • After the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally. Add lime juice and give a good stir.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve chana dal over rice.

Stovetop Pressure Cooker Method

  • Follow the same steps as the instant pot method until you close the lid.
  • Place the pressure cooker on the stovetop and cook on medium-high heat.
  • Once the pressure cooker reaches full pressure, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the cooker.
  • Add lime juice, stir well, and garnish with cilantro.

Video

Notes

  • Chana Dal foams, so if you double/triple the recipe make sure to only fill up to half of the pot.
  • Make Spinach Chana Dal – Add spinach after opening the instant pot, right after pressure cooking. Cover and let it rest for 5 minutes.  
  • Vegan Variation: To keep this recipe vegan, don’t use ghee.
  • Gluten free Variation: Use gluten-free asafoetida or skip it. 

Nutrition

Calories: 206kcalCarbohydrates: 34gProtein: 8gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 0.5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gSodium: 601mgPotassium: 146mgFiber: 12gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 318IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 109mgIron: 2mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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4.89 from 126 votes (83 ratings without comment)

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94 Comments

  1. Texture turned out great, but I’m tasting a bitterness I can’t put my finger on. I skipped using hing. I added yogurt to offset, but curious if there’s any misstep on my part that would be causing the bitterness, followed the recipe exactly otherwise.

  2. Hi Meeta,
    Channa Dal recipe calls for one cup of split chick peas. What is the size of cup in dry ounces? Could I use cake flour measuring cup which holds 4.25 ounces of flour. I am told one can store chopped fresh cliantro in freezer and use it as needed. Is this OK?
    Thanks
    Rich

    1. Hi Rich – I use a regular US measuring cup which is about 240ml or 8 ounces. I measured 1 cup of chana dal and it is 6.7 ounces.

  3. Great recipie, realised (accidentally), that the natural release is essential to the lentils cooking through and sauce being a perfect consistency! My first tomato based recipe that hasn’t given me a burn notice, I realised this is likely because of the high water content! This recipe has taught me so much!
    Though I have to say I have never had this recipe homemade before, normally over sweet and over salted at a shop, so I’ll wait and see when it cools if my sweet tooth will miss this side…. could a bit of coconut work in it!? It is still a success in our house either way….thank you!

    1. Hi Felicity – So happy that you think the recipe was a success. You can surely add some coconut to this dal. Coconut milk is a great addition too.

    1. Hi – You’re absolutely welcome! I’m thrilled to know that the recipe and directions were helpful and that your dish turned out great.

  4. I made this today!
    I give it 4/5 because once I opened the instant pot everything was still water and tomatoes not incorporated properly. I had to pour out the dal into a big pot and cook on high heat for 20mins extra until the water is absorbed and more curry like texture. At this point the day was over cooked and mushy as you can imagine.

    Nonetheless it still tasted great with Roti but the method need adjustment or measurement reduce water a bit.

    1. Hi Amy – Thanks for sharing your feedback. You can also turn the instant pot on saute mode and cook the dal for 5-10 minutes to thicken it.

  5. I have been looking for a good Instant Pot Chana dal recipe and this one is wonderful. By the way, it doubles easily in my 6 quart model. I’ll be trying many of the other recipes on your site. Thank you!