Sunday, December 18, 2016

Chickpea Lentils Cooked in Coconut Milk - Narkol Diye Cholar Dal

Narkol Dudh diye Channa'r Dal
Split chickpea lentils cooked this way evokes memories of Mum who loved to entertain. These were not everyday lentils because back in the day in Darjeeling, it was not easy to separate the fresh coconut meat from the shell. The coconut meat had to be painstakingly sliced and browned before putting them in the lentils. That's how Mum prepared lentils flavoured with coconut on festive occasions or when friends were invited to dine with us. 

This recipe uses coconut milk which makes a very creamy lentil dish especially delicious because of the chauk/phoron/tarka at the very end, of black cardamom seeds, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cumin seeds and bay leaves. A final garnish of ghee, slit greet chilies and cilantro makes this dish outstanding!

1 cup chola/channa dal 
4 cups water or stock
1 tsp. ginger paste
1 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste

4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 cinnamon sticks, left whole
2 black cardamoms, left whole
2 star anise, left whole
2 bay leaves, left whole
1/2 tsp. shah jeera/cumin seeds

1 large onion, chopped
2 medium (Roma) tomatoes, chopped
1 (8 oz.) cup coconut milk

1 tsp. ghee
3 green chilies, slit at stem end
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped


  1. Place first 5 ingredients in a pressure cooker and bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and cook under pressure on medium heat for 20 minutes until lentils are tender.
  3. Remove pressure cooker from heat and allow steam to dissipate completely before opening lid.
  4. Heat oil over high heat in skillet, fry slit green chillies until skin blisters and turns grey, remove from oil and set aside.
  5. Sputter cinnamon sticks, cardamoms, star anise, bay leaves and cumin seeds and fry for a minute or so.
  6. Add onions and tomatoes and cook until oil resurfaces.
  7. Add coconut milk and simmer for a minute or so.
  8. Pour contents of skillet over lentils in pressure cooker and return to a boil.
  9. Garnish with ghee, slit green chillies and cilantro.
Serve over steamed rice or with tortillas.

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