Cholar Dal is a hearty Bengali preparation made with split chickpeas. It is packed with a variety of flavours, and has a sweet tinge to it. Mostly made during Pujo or special occassions, this dal is served with luchis (deep fried Indian flatbreads) and even goes really well with a pulao or plain rice. This is my version of this hearty dal, which is an absolute favorite.
What makes this cholar dal so special?
There are many ingredients that add a lot of punch anf flavour to this cholar dal. But the hero ingredients are coconut and jaggery.
Cholar dal is a royal preparation, and only cooked for special occassions like Durga Puja, weddings or other events. It is cooked very differently than the north Indian chana dal. The coconut adds a beautiful nutty flavour to the recipe. The fresh coconut is cut into small bits and fried till golden brown and crunchy. It is then married to the rest of the spices. The base of the dal is made with curd or plain yogurt. It’s not nexessary to use hung curd here, but make sure the curd you use isn’t too thin. The curd adds a beautiful creamy texture to the recipe and also enhances the taste.
The jaggery is for the sweetness. You can also add sugar but jaggery also adds a beautiful colour and thickness to the curry unlike just plain sugar. This dal is on the sweeter side as it also has raisins. Since it is not a regular preparation and only made for special occassions, it calls for some extra ingredients.
Make it vegan
If you are a vegan or looking for a vegan cholar dal option, you can easily turn this cholar dal into a vegan version. Just replace the plain yogurt with thick coconut milk in the same quantities.
The traditional dal also uses ghee, but I have used mustard oil here, which is another vegan option.
Here’s the recipe: