January 22, 2021

by Alyssa Rimmer

Easy Chana Dal with Coconut Quinoa Flatbreads

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Easy chana dal recipe with curry powder, turmeric, garam masala & fluffy quinoa coconut flatbreads on the side makes a healthy vegan dinner.

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Ever heard someone say, “vegan food is bland” or “vegan food has no flavor”? That couldn't be farther from the truth!

And today's recipe is here to make your tastebuds sing. We're talking aromatic spices, soupy beans, all scooped up with homemade flatbreads. It's a plant-based feast that's easy to make and INCREDIBLY delicious.

We're making a simple chana dal and serving it with simple quinoa flatbreads. This recipe tastes amazing, takes about 40 minutes to make, and is something everyone who loves Indian flavors will adore.

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What is Chana Dal?

Translated into English, “chana dal” means split chickpeas. “Chana” means chickpea and “dal” refers to any split pulse. But chana dal is also a type of food. Cooked and simmered split chickpeas, that are then flavored with a delicious tomato-spice mixture that transforms them into this incredible curry-style dish.

Chana dal beans might sometimes be tricky to find, so if you can't find them, you can use split red lentils in their place. Just skip the soaking and cook for a little less time.

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How to Cook Chana Dal

There are essentially four steps to making chana dal: soak the beans, cook the beans, cook the tomato-spice mixture, stir everything together. Start to finish, it should take you about 40 minutes of cooking time plus another 30 for soaking (if you want).

To make this quick chana dal recipe, here's what you'll need:

  • Chana dal: again, these are split chickpeas and can be found on Amazon if you can't find them locally
  • Olive oil: traditionally, you'll see ghee or butter used, but since I wanted to make this recipe vegan, we're using oil. Use whichever you prefer!
  • Garlic: I like to crush my garlic using a garlic press so that it evenly distributes throughout the meal.
  • Onion: I recommend a red onion just for the flavor, but you can use any type (or shallot if you want!)
  • Ginger: freshly grated ginger adds a really lovely zing to the dish that I think elevates the flavor to a whole other level!
  • Tomato: the tomato adds flavor, juiciness, and a touch of sweetness to the “sauce” which I think is absolutely amazing!
  • Spices: we're using a fair amount – curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, cardamom, coriander, salt + pepper

And of course, you'll cook the beans in some water!

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What to Serve with Chana Dal

Chana dal can be served as a side dish, or it can be the main attraction! Since I follow a primarily plant-based diet, I like to have it as my main dish and serve it up with some sides.

Most often, I'll serve chana dal with:

  • White jasmine or basmati rice
  • Flatbreads (these quinoa flatbreads are awesome or you can try my gluten-free naan)
  • Cilantro
  • Side salad

And that's dinner! So simple to make, SO flavorful and all can be made ahead if you want to meal prep it. I think you're going to absolutely love this easy chana dal recipe and I can't wait to hear what you think!

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More Curry Inspired Recipes to Try:

Easy Chana Dal with Coconut Quinoa Flatbreads

Easy chana dal recipe in under 40 minutes and uses flavorful spices. Serve this chana dal with white rice and gluten-free quinoa flatbreads.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 421kcal
Author Alyssa Rimmer
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4.5 from 6 votes

Ingredients

for the dal:

  • 1 cup chana dal beans
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves , grated/minced
  • 1 small onion , diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 " piece of fresh ginger , grated
  • 1 small tomato , chopped
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro

for the flatbreads:

Instructions

  • Soak the chana dal beans for at least 1 hour. Rinse and add to a pot along with the water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until the beans are tender and the liquid is almost absorbed.
  • While the dal is cooking, heat the oil over medium heat in a pan. Once hot, add the garlic and onion and saute for 2 - 3 minutes until the onion is almost translucent. Add the ginger and tomato and cook another minute. Finally, add all the spices and cook for one to two additional minutes, until the mixture is fragrant and golden brown.
  • Next, make the crepes. Add all ingredients into a high powered blender and blend on high until smooth. Spoon 2 tablespoons of batter onto a lightly greased pan and swirl with the back of a spoon until they are thin and round. Cook for 1 minute then flip and cook for another 30 seconds. Repeat until no batter remains.
  • Remove from dal from the heat and gently mash a few of the cooked beans (this will make it thick and creamy). Stir in the spice mixture as well as the cilantro.
  • Serve dal with crepes (and some white rice if you want!) and enjoy.

Video

Nutrition

Serving: 0.75cup chana dal + 3 flatbreads | Calories: 421kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 29mg | Potassium: 201mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 324IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 151mg | Iron: 4mg

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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24 comments
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  1. This was a disappointing recipe. The dal was tasteless; had to add more salt and pepper to get any flavor from the spices. It ended up being a porridge without even having to mash any of the dal.Sadly, the recipe for the flatbread was maybe meant to be written differently? Perhaps letting the chia seed sit in the water first for a while? Instead I followed the instructions to blend all the ingredients into a blender and it thickened a little as it blended. Tried making the flatbread/crepes and they never cooked properly. Ended up being just crumbs, tasteless crumbs. The rice was the only thing worth eating. Perhaps a video of how you make the flatbread may help for next time.

    • Sorry you felt that way! I definitely never want anyone to be disappointed 🙁 Did you make any changes to the ingredient list or anything? I’ll definitely make a video for the flatbread as well!

  2. Hello Alyssa, The channa dal and rice platter is looking so hearty and delicious. Thanks for sharing.
    From-Sonia

  3. The flatbread fell apart when I tried to smooth it out with the back of a spoon. I finally got it to old together after 4 tries, but it was in much smaller pieces than shown. I guess it takes getting used to the right heat, pan, etc. it all tasted wonderful.,though!

    • Sorry you had some trouble Debbie! I do think it takes a little getting used to–they’re very delicate since there isn’t any gluten to help hold them together. Glad all the flavors were there for you though 🙂

  4. That flatbread looks really amazing!
    Would you believe it I have every gf flour you can think of (well…..) an the only one I have run out of us quinoa flour!
    Still, off to health shop tomorrow (got lovely chestnut flour last time) it is get what you can in rural ireland!
    They do not run out of quinoa often or there would be people waving placards I am sure. I cannot believe how popular it is nowadays.
    But cold too, so daal on my list of goodies to cook big pot of, perfect.
    I dot salad with mini falafels or burgers, I make them in the mini doughnut machine (we hate doughnuts) but do lots of spicy, garlicky cakes in them and freeze bags, they travel with us.
    I do sound as a bit as though I am losing it don’t i , but I am all for improvisation.
    Keep yours coming won’t you as I love to get my healthy quinoa in there, I send to my sister abroad and she loves our emails with all your ideas. So, we share you!

  5. My husband still isn’t sure about quinoa but I love it so would definitely try quinoa flatbreads. The curry looks deliciious. I have never tried making my own but maybe it’s time now!

  6. I love making Indian food and have just decided to keep all those ingredients on hand in case I get a hankering. Lucky for me I have all these ingredients on hand to male this!

  7. My husband is from India so I’ve had to learn to make it. I’ve never made chana dal though. Your looks so good especially with the coconut flatbread.

    • So great! I love how much there is to learn about Indian cooking – all the nuances of flavor and spices – something I’d certainly love to explore more.

  8. I can’t believe you managed to squeeze two such flavorful looking recipes into so few ingredients! This looks so, so good Alyssa!

  9. Oh my gosh, this sounds like my kinda meal! I miss Indian so much, we used to have it once a week in England, but I can rarely convince my other half to try it here. booooo! Love that you used quinoa!

    • Oh I remember how tasty the Indian food in England was when I visited a few years ago. I loved it! Surprisingly we don’t have too many great joints in NYC, but I certainly think I’ll be exploring it more in my own kitchen 🙂

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