Chana dal has a rich texture and a hint of sweetness in its taste when compared to other yellow dals such as moong or toor. These qualities make chana dal the perfect pairing choice with green leafy vegetables, especially greens that lean towards bitter. For those who would not touch fenugreek chutney or chaulai saag, a smart alternate to get their dose of greens is by "hiding" the leaves in chana dal.
Here is a recipe of chana dal with greens. I have used amaranth leaves, you could instead add any other such as fenugreek or spinach.
For the dal base:
- Chana dal – 1/2 cup
- Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon
For the greens masala:
- Green leaves (amaranth/spinach/fenugreek) – 1 cup, chopped
- Tomato – 1
- Onion – 1
- Garlic – 6 small cloves (2 teaspoons when chopped)
- Ginger – 1/2 inch stick (2 teaspoons when chopped)
- Green chili – 2
- Coriander powder – 1 teaspoon
- Cumin powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Oil – 2 teaspoons
- Lime juice – 2 teaspoon
- Ghee – 1 teaspoon
- Coriander leaves – a few sprigs
How To Make Chana Dal with Greens:
1. Cook the dal
Wash and soak chana dal in 3 cups of water for two hours. Drain.
Boil soaked chana dal in water, with turmeric powder, till the dal softens. In an Indian-style pressure cooker, boil in two cups of water on high heat till one whistle, then on low heat for another ten minutes.
Let the pressure release naturally.
Mash the dal gently with the bottom of the ladle.
2. Make the greens masala
Chop onions finely. Make a paste of ginger and garlic.
Slit green chilies vertically.
Chop the greens finely.
Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add finely chopped onions, ginger-garlic paste and slit green chilies. Saute till the onions are translucent.
Add chopped greens. Saute for five minutes on medium heat.
Add coriander powder and cumin powder. Saute for another two minutes.
Add finely chopped tomatoes and salt.
Continue to cook the greens masala till the tomatoes are soft.
3. Put it all together
Transfer the greens masala to the pressure cooker with dal. Cook it all together with the lid locked for another whistle. [If not using a pressure cooker, cook for 10 minutes or till the masala has blended well with the dal.]
Chana dal with greens in ready to eat. Serve hot with a dash of fresh lime juice, ghee and chopped coriander leaves.