Chana Dal with Golden Raisins

April 25, 2012
0 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 4 cups
Author Notes

Adapted very slightly from Raghavan Iyer’s "660 Curries." —Nicholas Day

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup chana dal (yellow split peas)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded and minced (if no sensitive palates present, quadruple)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  1. Rinse split peas in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Drain. Add 3 cups of water and turmeric and bring to a boil. Skim foam and simmer the peas, uncovered, until they are cooked but al dente, approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Add 2 more cups water and simmer until tender, approximately 15 more minutes.
  3. In the meantime, heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a large pan on high heat. Add onion, raisins, and bay leaves, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions look almost fried. Remove from pan.
  4. In pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook just until they sizzle, which will be almost immediately. Add ginger and garlic and cook for a minute, stirring.
  5. Add tomato, chiles, salt, garam masala, and 1 cup water. Scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan.
  6. When the peas are tender, add the tomato-cumin mixture to the peas and simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes or so, until the tastes meld.
  7. Add the onion-raisin mixture. Eat.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • NuMystic
  • mtrelaun
  • Rivka
  • Nicholas Day
    Nicholas Day
  • lisanrs
I'm the author of a book on the science and history of infancy, Baby Meets World. My website is; I tweet over at @nicksday. And if you need any good playdoh recipes, just ask.

7 Reviews

NuMystic March 1, 2015
Just want to make sure that folks are aware that Chana Dal is not the same as the regular supermarket "yellow split peas" packaged by Goya etc.

It's actually small split Chickpeas.

From Wikipedia:
"Yellow split peas may sometimes be confused with the Indian toor dal (split pigeon peas) or chana dal (split yellow gram, desi chickpeas); while all are commonly known as peas, the latter are from other legume species."

And for the difference between Chana and Chickpeas:

While this recipe would undoubtedly be yummy with yellow split peas it will still be quite a different dish in both flavor and texture than actual Chana Dal.
mela November 21, 2016
Thanks for the info about chana dal, and for posting that valuable link. Great for those of us who are just learning about GI and GL.
mtrelaun January 26, 2014
I used to swear by Madhur Jaffrey’s recipe for Chana Dal but this is 1 louder! Tastes fantastic on it own, but I love gilding the lotus with jasmine or basmati rice, yogurt, chutney and chopped cilantro.
JWB May 14, 2012
My 3 year-old was not willing to try this, but the adults enjoyed it very much. Even better as leftovers.
Rivka May 10, 2012
Have made this thrice: once with raisins, once with prunes, once - best - with dried cherries. Sublime; it's in the regular rotation.
Nicholas D. May 9, 2012
Hey Lisanrs,

So sorry -- I didn't see your comment until now. (I was looking at the column page, not the recipe page, stupidly.) RE onions: I've never measured it in cups, but if your red onion is enormous, I'd just stick with one. I'm pretty sure Iyer calls for a single onion, but I like it so much in the dish I always add more.
lisanrs May 3, 2012
Made this tonight for myself and two young (under 6 YO) kids and we all loved it!!!! I left out the serrano chili completely because one of my kids has no tolerance for spice & I was afraid even the garam masala would be too much, but she LOVED it. All the flavors came together really nicely. Going to add some spinach to the leftovers tomorrow!

Looking forward to future posts from this column. I do have one question regarding the recipe. As onion sizes vary so greatly approximately how many cups of sliced onion should I be aiming for?