Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chana Dal

On this fabulous rainy day in Portland I decided to warm up with some Indian spice. I purchased a bag of Chana Dal from work not to long ago, and it has been sitting in my pantry screaming at me to use it. Chana Dal is sort of like a small chickpea. Actually it is a black chickpea with the skin removed, then split. They look like yellow split peas, but have the texture of a chickpea. Unlike split peas, this legume does not boil down to mush, which is why I like them so much. Chana Dal does stay whole after fully cooked, but releases starches that thicken the soup.
Chana Dal beans take from 20 minutes to an hour to cook, depending on if you soak them beforehand. They are available wherever Bob's Red Mill products are sold, as well as at Indian groceries. You may also find them in many stores bulk bins. They have a whopping 17 grams of fiber per serving and not to mention 19 grams of protein. They are high in complex carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin C. For all you diabetics, Chana Dal has a very low glycemic index too, considering how many complex carbohydrates and grams of protein they have. Check out this guys diabetic story. Why wouldn't you want to eat these lucious legumes.
To cook Chana Dal I started by measuring out my spices. This consisted of black mustard seeds, coriander, cumin, salt and cayenne. With coconut oil hot and ready in the pot, I added the mustard seeds and let them start popping. No they don't make popcorn, but they do sound like it. Mustard seeds must pop to release their delicious flavors and aroma. After they stopped popping I added the rest of the spices then the beans. Stir, stir, stir. Then I submerged them in water and let it all boil and come together. After about an hour, give or take, I lifted the lid of the pot and was amazed at the color and aroma. MMmm smelled so good. To accompany my Chana Dal I made Saffron Brown Basmati Rice with Green Peas. Lastly, I topped the two with chopped tomatoes and onions. This was very comforting on this dreary rainy day. Hope you all have a great day and see you in the kitchen!