When we were kids we took a trip to the Northern parts of Pakistan, to Swat and Kaghan with their beautiful peaks and glacial rivers. I would share pictures, but I have some izzat (i.e. self respect).
Those weren’t necessarily my best years.
I don’t remember many details about the trip, but I do remember those delicious bags of chana daal that we would pick up from the nearest restaurant for dinner. When I say bags I am serious. The chana daal or chanay ki daal actually came in clear plastic bags that I would clumsily try to serve myself from, using roti to scoop up what I could, spilling some in the process. It was one of my favourite things about that trip and I really wish that I could recreate that kind of nostalgic magic.
This simple chanay ki daal is a lighter, soupier, less masala version of the dry version I posted some time ago. When I make it I sometimes give in to the urge to add more spices or temper it twice, but I find that more often than not I regret it. Temper it twice you ask? Many people cook their chana daal in a base of browned onions and then add a second tempering at the end. I recently had chana daal at someones house, a simple, clean tasting one and I was reminded of how good it can be without the muss and fuss. So I went back to the drawing board, dialled back the spices and am far happier with the outcome.
I should confess here that my family is not remotely Punjabi. Therefore if you are and are looking for your mothers chanay ki daal recipe I cannot guarantee that this is it. Mothers have something special in the way they cook, especially Punjabi ones (if anyone’s wants to make makkai ki roti and send it my way I won’t protest).
Until recently I have always made it the traditional way. That is to say I soak for a few hours or overnight then cook the daal. This time around I washed it, put it on pressure in the Instant Pot for 10 minutes, ran an errand and came back to beautifully cooked chana daal.
Another ‘new’ thing that I have started to do is to use Passata for cooking Pakistani food. Passata is essenially a robust tomato puree that you can use in desi food without any of the sharp twang associated with canned tomatoes. I love that it is readily available in grocery stores, usually where the tomato sauce or pasta sauce is. It works in any dish where the texture of the tomato isn’t important. In other words don’t put it in your Karahi Chicken 😉
Chana Daal or Chanay ki Daal
A simple Pakistani daal recipe that requires a few ingredients for healthy every day comfort food. An Instant Pot makes this dish a cinch!
For the Daal Mix:
- 1 cup chana daal (split chickpeas)
- 5 cups water
- 1-2 tomato finely chopped or 1-2 tbsp of Passata
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- lemon juice (according to taste)
- 2-3 green chillies, sliced or horizontally split
For the Baghaar/Tadka/Tempering:
- 3 tbsp neutral oil
- 1/2 onion thinly sliced
- 3-4 whole dried red chillies
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
Put the first seven ingredients into your instant pot and put on Manual, High Pressure for 10 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release, i.e. don't do anything until it releases on it's own (15-20 minutes)
The daal should be tender but holding shape, mash lightly to thicken
Put the IP on Saute, medium heat. Adjust thickness of daal according to preference - cook down to thicken, add water to thin.
Add the cilantro, green chillies, a little lemon juice and adjust seasoning (I usually add more salt)
Heat a lug of oil in a small frying pan
When it shimmers add your sliced onions, whole red chillies and cumin seeds
Brown the onions and the pour the baghaar over the cooked daal. Eat with roti or rice.
I like this daal best with one tomato, but feel free to add the second!
Chanay ki daal not your thing? I have lots of daal recipes for you to try instead! There is my Mamas Masoor, the simple mixed Moong daal I grew up eating, and the “kaali daal” or Sabut Masoor that my daughters and I love.