Chana dal chutney is a delicious and easy-to-make dip made from split chickpeas (also known as Bengal gram), chillies, and spices. It goes well with South Indian breakfast dishes. My family enjoys it as a dip and as a spread as well. Learn how to make this chutney recipe in a few simple steps.
This post contains helpful notes, tips, and tricks to help you make the perfect dish. However, if you are in a rush, please use the "Jump to Recipe" link above or the "Jump to" links below to get to the section you want.
To make these dishes, I use different spices, herbs, and aromatics to create depth and dimension in the flavor. In this post, I will show you how to make chana dal chutney, a delicious and easy-to-make dip that also has layers of flavor.
This delicious condiment is naturally vegan and is:
Why this chutney is such a winner
This recipe is already a winner because chana dal (chickpea lentils) are super healthy and nutritious! Besides that, here are some other reasons why you should make this zingy condiment:
- It has a smooth and creamy texture like hummus that you will love.
- It is spicy and tangy, making it lip-smacking delicious.
- It is versatile - you can use it as a side, a dip, or a spread. Check out the section below for some serving suggestions.
- It is a great make-ahead dish that you can store easily. See the notes below for more details.
- It is a crowd-pleaser that will impress your friends and family when they visit.
- It is a delicious way to add plant-based protein to your meals.
Most of these ingredients for this Bengal gram chutney will already be in your pantry if you cook Indian food regularly.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Chana dal also known as split chickpeas or Bengal gram are easily available in most supermarkets.
Asafoetida is one of the main flavor ingredients in this allium-free (no onion and garlic) dish. This recipe uses asafoetida twice - once in the chutney and once in the tempering.
Methi seeds, also known as fenugreek seeds, have a bitter after taste that adds a lovely depth of flavor to the chutney.
Oil: Any neutral oil will work well.
Mustard seeds add a nutty, warm crunch to the dish. I use the black variety. You can use yellow or brown variety, if that is what you have.
Dried red chili: Use it if you have or else skip it.
Have a question regarding the ingredients? Feel free to ask in the comments section below and I will try my best to answer it for you.
I learned this chana dal chutney recipe from my mum, and it is one of my favorite condiments. It was one of the first dishes that she taught me, and I have perfected it over the years to make her proud.
I am so happy to share this recipe with you, which I am sure your family will love as well. Let’s make it together!
Measure all the ingredients and keep them ready. You will need a heavy-bottomed skillet.
Step 1 - Roast the lentils: Heat the skillet on medium heat and make sure it is evenly hot. Then, add the lentils and roast them until they turn brown. Stir them occasionally to ensure even browning.
Step 2 - Soak the lentils: Transfer the roasted chana dal to a bowl and add water. Then, let them soak for 15 minutes.
Step 3- Fry the aromatics: Heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Next, stir in the methi seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds begin to darken, break the chilies into 2-3 pieces each and add them to the skillet. Fry them until they blister and release a wonderful aroma. Finally, spoon them out with the oil into a bowl and set aside until needed.
Step 4 - Temper the spices: Heat oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add mustard seeds, dried red chili (if using), and asafoetida. Stir them until the seeds start to splutter. After that, remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.
Step 5 - Make the chutney: Scoop out the soaking lentils from the water and add them to a blender jar. Then, add the fried chilies, methi seeds, asafoetida, and oil that you used to fry them. Add salt and remaining water and blend for 1-2 minutes until the chutney is smooth and looks glossy.
To finish off, add the tempered spices and oil, mix well.
That's it! Delicious and spicy chana dal chutney is ready to be served. See serving suggestions below.
Notes and tips
I am sharing here some notes and tips that I have learnt along the way to make the perfect lentil chutney every time.
Roast the dal on medium heat to make a delicious chana dal chutney. Roasting on high heat will cause the lentils to brown faster but they will not cook from inside. This process will take up to 20 minutes. During the first 7-8 minutes, it may seem like nothing much is happening, but do not be tempted to turn up the heat. Be patient and continue roasting on medium heat. This will ensure that the lentils cook from inside and taste deliciously nutty.
Does chana dal need soaking? Yes, chana dal (split chickpeas) typically benefits from soaking. Soaking chana dal in water helps to soften the lentils and make it easier to grind them into a smooth texture.
In this recipe the combination of red and green chilies add a lovely flavor and color to the chutney. I use medium spicy ones, but you can use your favorite ones to adjust the spice level. You can make it hotter or milder according to your preference.
No lime juice? Use tamarind pulp instead. Use shop bought one or homemade tamarind pulp for this recipe.
Flavor boost: To further add flavor to this already yummy chutney, add all or any of these:
- 1 tablespoon of fresh coconut or flakes. If using fresh coconut, add them to the blender jar along with the lentils. If using flakes, fry for a minute along with the chilies.
- Tahini - 1 tablespoon. Add it to the blender jar just before the last round of blending. Tahini will add another layer of flavor and make it creamy like hummus.
- Make it more tangy by adding 2 teaspoons more of lime juice.
- When tempering the spices, add a few curry leaves and a teaspoon of urad dal (white lentils) for extra flavor and crunch.
Any doubts or questions? Feel free to ask via the comments below. I will try my best to answer them for you.
More chutney recipes
Chutneys are an easy way to dial up the flavors if you are a mad fan of flavors like me. Here are some chutneys that you should have in your refrigerator:
This green chutney recipe requires only 5 ingredients - cilantro, mint, salt, chilies, and lime juice. You can spread this chutney as a base layer for your wraps or sandwiches. Or you can stir it into some leftover rice and warm it up to make a delicious chutney fried rice. You can also try this variation of cilantro mint chutney with gooseberry for a change.
If you love coconuts, you will love this mint coconut chutney! This chutney has juicy coconut, burst of mint flavor, and crunch of golden fried lentils. It is so delicious! I like to spread this chutney on my toast for a refreshing breakfast.
Caramelized onions, chilies, and tamarind give this onion chutney recipe a sweet, fiery, and fruity flavor. It is the perfect accompaniment for your cheese board or a dip for your nachos. You will love this chutney for its versatility and taste.
Serving and Storage suggestions
Here are some delicious and creative ways to add this healthy chutney to your meals:
As a side: While coconut chutney is common in Southern Indian, this chutney can be a good change from the regular.
Spread the chana dal chutney generously on dosa (thin savory pancake) and serve alongside soft idli (steamed rice cake) for a perfect South Indian breakfast.
I go a step further and have it with flatbreads. I especially love this chutney with these spicy bullet naans and when I want to have a gluten free lunch, with these melt-in-the mouth gluten-free naan.
As a dip: Use the chutney as a dipping sauce for
- fresh vegetable sticks or roasted vegetables
- with crispy samosas (fried stuffed pastries) and pakoras (deep-fried fritters)
- kebabs and tikkis (croquettes) for an irresistible combination.
As a spread: For an extra burst of flavor, you can add a dollop of this chutney to your favorite sandwiches or wraps. Sometimes, I like to use this chutney in my burgers (my girls love it!) just like I use this dosakaya pachadi - it’s a cheeky trick, but it works!
Salad dressing: You can create a flavorful dressing for salads by mixing the chutney with some more water. Or you can use yogurt or buttermilk instead of water, if you don’t mind it being non-vegan. This will make your salad more creamy and tangy.
Rice accompaniment: Serve the chutney as a side dish with steamed rice, providing a tasty and tangy complement to your meal. There are days when I stir in the chutney with leftover vegetable pulao to make a wholesome meal.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless, so feel free to experiment and discover new ways to incorporate this delicious chutney into your culinary adventures!
How have you enjoyed this lentil chutney? Do let me know in the comments below. I would love to hear from you. - Padma
Making ahead and storage
Make a large batch of this chutney. It will stay good in the fridge for up to a week. Once you've prepared the chutney, allow it to cool down to room temperature before storing.
Refrigeration: Transfer the chutney into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator. It can stay fresh for up to 7 days. Make sure to use a clean and dry spoon every time you take out the chutney.
Freezing: If you want to store the chutney for a more extended period, freezing is an excellent option. Place the chutney in freezer-safe containers or bags. Ensure to remove any excess air before sealing the bags or containers. Frozen chana dal chutney can retain its quality for up to 3-4 months.
Thawing and serving: When you're ready to use the refrigerated or frozen chutney, transfer it to the refrigerator the night before if possible, or allow it to thaw at room temperature. Give it a stir before serving to ensure an even consistency.
This chutney does not need to be reheated.
Chana dal and chickpeas are related, but they are not the same thing. Both chana dal and chickpeas come from the chickpea plant, but they are processed and used differently in cooking.
Chana dal refers to split chickpeas, where the chickpeas are split and the outer skin removed. This process creates a smaller, yellow-colored lentil with a smooth texture. Chana dal is commonly used in Indian cooking and is a staple in various dishes like dals, curries, and chutneys.
On the other hand, chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are the whole and intact seeds of the chickpea plant. They are round, beige-colored legumes and are available in various sizes. Chickpeas are used in a variety of cuisines worldwide and are commonly found in dishes like hummus, salads, stews, and curries.
Yes, Bengal gram and chana dal are the same. Both terms refer to the same type of lentil, which is the split and skinned version of chickpeas. Bengal gram is a common name for chana dal in India and other South Asian countries, where it is widely used in various traditional dishes. Chana dal is popularly known for its nutty flavor, smooth texture, and versatility in Indian cuisine, particularly in making dals, curries, snacks, and chutneys. So, whether you refer to it as Bengal gram or chana dal, it is the same delicious and nutritious legume derived from chickpeas.
Another name for chana dal is "split chickpeas." Chana dal is made by splitting chickpeas and removing their outer skin, resulting in small, yellow-colored lentils with a smooth texture. In some regions or cuisines, it may also be referred to as "Bengal gram dal" or simply "gram dal." However, "split chickpeas" is a commonly used term that describes the same type of lentil.
If you have made this chana dal chutney, please take a moment to leave a comment and a rating below. This will make me super happy and motivate me to create more good content for you! You can also engage with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram xx Padma
Chana Dal Chutney (Split chickpea lentil dip)
- 1 skillet (heavy bottomed)
- 1 spatula
- 1 bowl
- 1 mixer-grinder
- ½ cup (~110g) chana dal (chickpea lentils)
- 2 teaspoons neutral oil
- 2 red chili peppers (as hot as you can handle)
- 3 green chili peppers (as hot as you can handle)
- ¼ teaspoon hing (powdered asafoetida)
- ¼ teaspoon methi (fenugreek seeds)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon hing (powdered asafoetida)
- 1 dried red chili (optional)
to finish off
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lime juice (½ a juicy lime)
Roast the dal
- Place the skillet on medium heat and let it become evenly hot.
- Place the chana dal in the hot skillet and on medium heat, roast them till they are evenly brown. Keep stirring to get them evenly brown. Roast the dal on medium heat to make a delicious chana dal chutney. Roasting on high heat will cause the lentils to brown faster but they will not cook from inside. This process will take up to 20 minutes. During the first 7-8 minutes, it may seem like nothing much is happening, but do not be tempted to turn up the heat. Be patient and continue roasting on medium heat. This will ensure that the lentils cook from inside and taste deliciously nutty.½ cup (~110g) chana dal (chickpea lentils)
Soak the dal
- Transfer the roasted lentils to a bowl and add water. Then, let them soak for 15 minutes.1 cup water
Fry the aromatics
- Heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Next, stir in the methi seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds begin to darken, break the chilies into 2-3 pieces each and add them to the skillet. Fry them until they blister and release a wonderful aroma. Finally, spoon them out with the oil into a bowl and set aside until needed.2 red chili peppers, 3 green chili peppers, ¼ teaspoon hing (powdered asafoetida), ¼ teaspoon methi (fenugreek seeds), 1 tablespoon neutral oil
Temper the spices
- Heat oil in the same skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add mustard seeds, dried red chili (if using), and asafoetida. Stir them until the seeds start to splutter. After that, remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside.2 teaspoons neutral oil, ½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds, ⅛ teaspoon hing (powdered asafoetida), 1 dried red chili
Make the chutney
- Scoop out the soaking lentils from the water (save the water, we will use it to blend the chutney) and add them to a blender jar. Then, add the fried chilies, methi seeds, asafoetida, and oil that you used to fry them. Add salt and blend everything for 1-2 minutes. You will get a crumbly mixture of lentils, chilies, and spices.1 teaspoon salt
- Next, add some water and blend for 1-2 minutes. Then, stop the blender, take off the lid, and mix the chutney well. Make sure to push down any lentils that escape grinding. After that, add the remaining water and lime juice and blend again until you get a smooth and glossy chutney.Check for salt and tanginess and adjust these according to your palate.1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lime juice
- To finish off, add the tempered spices and oil, mix well. Delicious and spicy chana dal chutney is ready to be served.
- 1 tablespoon of fresh coconut or flakes. If using fresh coconut, add them to the blender jar along with the lentils. If using flakes, fry for a minutes along with the chilies.
- Tahini - 1 tablespoon. Add it to the blender jar just before the last round of blending. Adding tahini to this chutney will add another layer of flavor and make it creamy like hummus.
- Make it more tangy by adding 2 teaspoons more of lime juice.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only.
Note: The nutrition information is based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.