Monday, 11 October 2021

Cholar Dal / Bengali Style Chana Dal


Cholar Dal is a flavorful lentil dish from the Bengali Cuisine. Made from chana dal, raisins, whole spices and flavored with fried fresh coconut, this Cholar dal is a Vegetarian Bengali delicacy, specially made during Durga Puja. This mildly sweet and a bit spicy in taste Cholar dal is aromatic, unique, and different from the North India Chana dal which is not sweet. Cholar dal can be served as a side dish with poori or steamed rice. The is a Satvik (onion-garlic free) lentil dish and the recipe is vegan, gluten-free.


Durga Puja Festival

Durga Puja also referred to as Durgotsava or Sharadotsav is an annual Hindu festival in South Asia that celebrates the worship of the Hindu goddess Durga. It is  particularly popular in the Indian states of West Bengal , Odisha, Assam, and Tripura. Durga puja festival marks the battle of the goddess Durga with the powerful buffalo demon Mahishasura, and her emerging victorious over the evil. Thus the festival epitomizes the victory of Good over Evil, but it also is in part a harvest festival that marks the goddess as the motherly power behind all of life and creation. 

Durga Puja festival is celebrated from the sixth to the tenth day of the bright lunar fortnight in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin. Bengali's celebrate it with dance, food, music, grandeur, and community gatherings. While in Northern and Western India, people observe 9 days of fasting during Navratri, Bengali's (die-hard foodies) enjoy scrumptious food during Durga Pooja. Check out my Bengali Vegetarian Thali / Durga Puja Special Platter.


                                                                                                                                                                        Durga Puja a major festival of Bengal is a five-day celebration that runs parallel with Navratri, a Hindu festival where nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshiped. The five days are Shahsthi, Maha Saptami, Maha Ashtami, Maha Navmi, and Vijaydashmi. It is believed that during Durga Puja, Goddess Durga, accompanied by her four children, Ganesh, Karthik, Lakshmi and Saraswati- descends on earth every year to visit her parents and to fight evil. As a part of Durga Puja celebrations, huge pandals with idols of Goddess Durga are set up and devotees come in large numbers to offer prayers to the goddess. During this festival of Durgostav, devotees wear new clothes, indulge in sweet and traditional food, and enjoy cultural programs. The rituals that start off on Shashthi come to an end on dashmi, when idols of the goddess are immersed by teary-eyed devotees in ponds, lakes, and rivers. 

I had made this emboss painting 20 years back and it still adorns the wall at my parent's house :

Related Event A to Z Recipe Challenge Group Part 2-Alphabet D

This Kala Cholar Dal recipe is featured in the A to Z recipe challenge group where we have started a new season or we can say part 2 of our A to Z series where we have decided to make recipes alphabetically with Hindi names. For instance, d for Dahi, Dal, Dalia, Dhaniya etc. I chose D for Dal as my key ingredient and made this healthy for the theme.


What goes into my version of Cholar dal / The Key Ingredients:

  • Chana Dal: Chana dal is the key ingredient of this lentil dish. You may substitute chana dal with moong dal.
  • Mustard oil: Traditional recipes use ghee. I have used mustard oil to make it vegan. If you do not have any dietary restrictions, you may top the dal with a dollop of pure ghee.
  • Coconut: Fresh coconut pieces are fried and added to the Cholar dal which lends lovely nutty flavor and bite to the soft dal.  I would strongly recommend not to substitute the fresh coconut with desiccated coconut or dry coconut.
  • Whole spices: whole spices like bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, dried red chilies, cumin seeds make the aromatic and flavorful.
  • Raisins and Sugar: Golden raisins and little sugar are added to the Cholar dal which lends a mildly sweet taste to the dal which makes it unique and different from the North Indian chanal dal.
Dietary Notes: This Bengali style Cholar dal is 
  • Satvik (No Onion No Garlic)
  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
  • Mildly sweet and savory lentil curry
  • Bengali Delicacy
  • Durga Puja special dish
  • Kid-friendly

Preparation Time: 2 hours

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 1 cup Chana dal/Bengal gram
  • 3 tablespoon Mustard oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh coconut slices
  • 8-10 golden raisins
  • 2 green chilies, split
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 clover
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Bengali garam masala/Curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  1. Wash the chana dal thoroughly and soak it in water for 2 hours or for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer drained soaked dal to a pressure cooker along with 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  3. Pressure cook the dal for 2-3 whistles on medium flame such that the dl is soft and well cooked, yet not mushy. On cooking, the dal should be able to retain its shape. 
  4. Heat mustard oil in a pan on medium flame until it smokes. Put off the flame. Allow the oil to cool down a bit. Now heat the oil again and add fresh sliced coconut to it. Fry the coconut pieces on low flame while stirring until it turns golden brown. Take care not to burn the coconut.
  5. Remove the fried coconut pieces to a plate.
  6. To the same oil add the cumin seeds. Once the seeds crackle, add bay leaf, slit green chilies, green cardamom pods, cloves, and dried red chilies. Fry the whole spices for few seconds. 
  7. Add grated ginger to it and stir fry for few seconds.
  8. In a bowl take 1/4 cup stock from the cooked dal and add turmeric powder, garam masala, and cumin powder to it. Give a good stir. Add this slurry to the tempering, so that the spices do not burn.
  9. Cook the spices in the slurry until you see oil floating on the top. Add the cooked chana dal at this stage and give it a good mix. Add more water if desired to adjust the consistency of the dal.
  10. Allow the dal to boil. Add sugar and a little salt. Be cautious while doing so, as we have already added salt while cooking the dal.
  11. Add raisins and fried coconut at this Stage. Cook for another 1-2 minutes and put off the flame. The dl thickens further on cooling. So adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  12. Serve the aromatic and flavorful Cholar Dal with hot pooris or rice and enjoy with your loved ones!  

Recipe Notes:
  • Traditional recipes use ghee. I have used mustard oil to make it vegan. If you do not have any dietary restrictions, you may top the dal with a dollop of pure ghee.
  • Cook the dal such that it should be soft yet not mushy. 

Would love to hear from you!

I hope you would love to try out this healthy and delicious Bengali Style Cholar Dal. If you do so, feel free to share your feedback with us in the form of likes and comments in the section below this post.

All your suggestions are more than welcome. If you like my work and feel that it is worth following, do hit the follow button on the top right corner of this blog. Your appreciation means a lot to me. It gives me the inspiration and motivation to keep doing my work and give my best each time.

If you like my work and want to be updated with new recipes, do follow us on various social media platforms. My social media handles for your kind reference are as follows. 


You Tube Channel English:


You Tube Channel Marathi:


You Tube Channel Hindi


Facebook Handle: https://www.facebook.com/poonambachhavblogspot

Instagram Handle: https://www.instagram.com/poonambachhav/

Pinterest Handle: https://in.pinterest.com/poonambachhav/

Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/poonampagar_B


See you soon with yet another healthy and delicious creation from my Kitchen. Until then Stay safe and eat right!


Happy Cooking!

Happy Eating!



Poonam Bachhav 

Related Posts: