Now this is a new one! Chana dal cooked with paneer? How would that taste? Ummm.. unbelievable!
I get all these compliments when I prepare this curry for my get togethers or parties. Its an unusual combo, I get it. But its super delicious guys, and so hard to resist.
Chana dal has always been my most favourite one out of all lentils. I find it the most versatile and open for experiments. Its earthy taste adds a distinctive flavour to anything it goes in.
Take this Puran poli for example, I would have never guessed that this legume could be added as a sweet stuffing in a paratha (Indian flatbread). And its amazing how I can prepare so many curries like Chana dal Palak, Lauki chane ki dal and Chana dal vada curry all so different in taste and texture from each other.
And then there is Paneer. A perfect addition to any curry, capable of uplifting its taste single handedly. Combining these two things together is like watching movie with popcorn. Or like fries with coke. Or like tea with rich marrie biscuit. Anyway you got the point, right.
This chana dal paneer is made slightly thick so it can be eaten as a sabzi (side) with roti (flatbread). And the spice level is kept a bit up and not bland. Also, the onion, tomatoes, ginger etc that I have used in the dish are left a bit crunchy rather than all mushy.
All these things together make this a very different curry to have which goes with everyday meals or even special occasions. Such curries where a lentil is combined with a vegetable or Paneer also serve a good purpose to fulfil your protein and other nutritional needs. These are high in fiber, protein and minerals. Also most are vegan and gluten free making them a perfect dish to serve with people of special diet needs.
Lets see how to make this super healthy and tasty chana dal paneer curry.
Course: Mains or side
Cuisine: North Indian
Cooking level: Easy to medium
Nutritional info: High in fiber, protein and calcium. Good source of vitamins and iron. Low GI and Gluten free.
What you need?
- 1 cup chana dal, rinsed and soaked for at least 30 minutes
- About 150 gms paneer, cubed
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- A small piece of ginger, chopped small or grated
- 2-3 green chilies, chopped fine
- 1 tsp Curry spice mix (I used Kitchen king masala)
- 1 tsp red chili powder, turmeric powder each
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp Kasuri methi
- 1/2 tsp Garam masala, dry mango powder (amchur) each
- Salt to taste (about 2 tsp)
- Fresh cilantro (coriander leaves)
How to make?
Pressure cook chana dal with 3 cups of water + 1 tsp salt + turmeric powder for 2-3 whistles. Once the pressure eases off, check if the dal is cooked properly. We dont want dal to get mashed up completely but it should be soft with its shape almost retained. Drain any excess water and retain it for later use in any curry or roti.
In a heavy bottomed pan or Kadhai, heat the oil. Throw in cumin seeds and bay leaf, fry till they splutter. Add minced ginger and green chilies, saute for a few seconds then add diced onion. cook only till they start turning translucent but still slightly crunchy.
Add in paneer, tomatoes and all the spices. Cook covered for a few minutes till tomatoes get a bit mushy and paneer soak in the flavours. Add cooked chana dal (minus the excess water) and mix well.
Check the seasoning and cook till everything mixes properly and any excess water evaporates. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
You may want to shallow fry paneer cubes before adding to the curry. Simply pan fry them in about 2-3 tbsp of oil and keep aside. Add as stated in the above recipe. This will prevent paneer cubes to crumble and also help to retain the shape.
You may add some extra garam masala on top and keep it covered till served.
Some more lentil and vegetables combination that you might like:
Chickpeas cauliflower curry– 30 minutes vegan recipe
Raw mango dal– Andhra style kacche aam ki dal
Chana dal shalgum– Lentil stew with turnip
Beetroot sambar- Beetroot lentil stew with tamarind