Comforting chana (bengal gram/chickpea lentils) dal cooked with lauki(opo squash) is an easy north indian (punjabi) lentils recipe using basic ingredients in your pantry. This simple and nutritious dal that almost tastes like a curry is commonly prepared in indian homes during summer season.
About Chana Dal With Lauki
This comforting dal combined two main ingredients - Chana Dal and lauki(bottle gourd or calabash). Chana Dal is a staple in indian kitchens and it is full of fiber and is high in protein. It has a very nutty and mildly sweet taste.
Lauki is quite popular in indian cooking and this squash is very similar in texture to zucchini. It is full of vitamins and has a mild, sweetish flavor and a high water content.
It is very common in indian cooking to combine vegetables and lentils (see moong dal khichdi with palak) to maximize nutrition. We are going to begin by soaking the lentils and then pressure cooking them first. Then,lauki is added once the lentils are soft. We are then going to cook together. Followed by tempering.
When it comes to tadka or tempering, I guess every family has its own twist on it. Some temper the dal with just cumin, leaving out the garlic or onions, while some prepare it with touch coconut and black mustard seeds.
I had the opportunity to taste a variation tempered with curry leaves at one of my friend's place. There is no right or wrong, just a preference.
How to Make Lauki Chana Dal (Step Photos)
- You could use the same recipe without adding lauki. Or you could add vegetables like zucchini, yellow summer squash, turai, or chayote squash instead.
- For a vegan version, don't use ghee. Instead use vegan butter or plant based oil.
- For a gluten free version- skip the hing.
- Make sure that the lentils are not more than 6 months old. They will be tough to cook and the taste might not be fresh.
- Sometimes, lauki has too many seeds, always check before adding to the dal. In such case, either scoop out the insides of lauki or don't use it. Overripe lauki will be hard to cook.
Chana Dal (With Lauki)
- Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot
For Boiling The Lentils
- 1 cup chana dal bengal gram lentils
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 medium tomato chopped (yield about ½ cup)
- ½ tablespoon ginger finely chopped, adjust quantity to taste
- 2-3 pinch hing powder asafoetida
- 2.5-3 cup water or as needed
- 1 small lauki (opo squash),peeled and cut into 2" batons
- Chopped cilantro to garnish
For The Tadka (tempering)
- 3-4 tablespoon ghee or use oil for vegan
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2-3 dried kashmiri chillies
- Pinch hing asafoetida
- 1 small red onion finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder adjust quantity to taste
Boil The Chana Dal
- Thoroughly wash the lentils under running water 2-3 times. Soak for 30-40 minutes in enough water.
- Drain and transfer the soaked lentils to a pressure cooker or steel insert of IP. Add 3 cups of water.
- Add all the listed ingredients except lauki. Put the lid on and pressure cook the lentils on medium heat for 4-5 whistles (This cooking time and number of whistles will depend on the quality of lentils, adjust as needed). Take off the heat and let sit on the counter till the pressure naturally releases out of the cooker.For IP, cook on high pressure for about 8 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker or IP, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid and cook the lentils for around 30-40 minutes or till 95% cooked.
- Once you open the lid, with the help of a whisk or back of spoon, mash the lentils a little bit to cream them.
- Add the lauki. Add ½ cup water (if needed) and return the pressure cooker to the stove. Cover and let simmer (not pressure cook) on medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until the gourd is completely soft. Lauki will release its water so make sure that dal is not too runny at the beginning.
Temper The Dal
- In a small sauce pan, warm up the ghee. Add the cumin seeds, let crackle, about 8-10-20 seconds.
- Add the whole dried chillies & hing and let them turn darker in color. Lower the heat and immediately add the onions and garlic and let cook till are golden brown, taking care not to burn. Once onions are browned, put off the stove and add the red chili powder. Immediately add this tadka on top of to the simmered lentils and cover so that the aroma infuses. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm.
- Replace lauki (ops squash/bottle gourd) with your choice of summer squash (yellow squash or zucchini). You can skip the squash all together.
- The cooking time mentioned in this recipe are for split lentils. If you use whole lentils the cooking time wouldÂ be more.
- Hing or asafoetida is a strong, stinky spice available both in granular and powdered form. A little goes a long way!. It gives a unique flavor to dal but can be skipped if you do not have it. Skip hing for gf version.
- If you are vegan, use any oil in this recipe instead of ghee. Coconut oil will not be a very good choice since it will make chana dal taste coconutty. Any neutral oil or avocado oil is good.