Chana Dal with Chicken –  This is a recipe my mum makes a lot. It is a recipe that always seems to go down well with others too and is so simple to make. It is flavourful, healthy, delicious and gluten free. 

Chana Dal in a pot with Coriander and dry red chillies on grey towel


This easy Chana Dal Recipe with chicken is made from split chickpeas. It has a nutty texture and is very filling and wholesome. It makes for a great midweek meal. 

Chana Dal with Chicken

Dal is one of the most popular staples of an india diet with a lot of homes making some version of it every single day. 

I love Dal and could eat it all day. I love that it provides warmth and comfort in the colder winter months. In Bristol there is a Dal festival every year. It’s this week actually. Sounds like my kinda festival.

Dal for me, is the ultimate hug in a bowl meal that everyone enjoys.Though as you can probably tell, this picture was taken in Summer and that my friends is how much of a back log I have with getting recipes up on the site. I really wish I was like the bloggers who have weeks of work prepped in advance but alas (so dramatic) I am just not built that way. 

In this recipe the dal is cooked al dente rather then like most other dals that are broken down or pureed in the process of cooking. The masala is very simple and pretty standard. The tempering adds to the flavour and intensifies it. 

This is the Chana Dal I use in this recipe.

Serve the dal with roti or rice or cooked grains and pickles. You know I love a pickle side. 

About this Dal

There are countless variations of Dal all across India. Every household has their favourite, different regions use varying methods and spices, sometimes it’s served as a meal, sometimes as a side.

This dal is a Dal that is sometimes added into rice and is mostly cooked al dente rather then blended down. Tadka Dalis a popular version. A ‘tadka’ is when spices are tempered in oil/ghee and then poured over Dal at the end of cooking to add an extra flavour punch. In this recipe it is optional because the dal already has plenty of flavour.

What goes into Chana Dal with Chiken

Spices – All the usual spices that are found in most curries, also go into Dal.

Tadka Spices– This is an optional step. Spices are warmed through in oil/ghee and this is then poured over the Dal at the end of cooking. The Tadka is made with cumin seeds, garlic and dried red chillies. 

Other Curry Recipes that you will love

Lamb Keema and Potato Curry

Healthy Egg Curry with Potatoes and Peas

Masoor Dal Tadka

Chicken and chickpea curry

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  • Soak Lentils: Rinse lentils and leave to soak in plenty of water for 1 hour. Drain in colander.

Chana Dal soaking in a bowl of water

  • Heat ghee/oil in a heavy based saucepan over high heat. Add onions and fry until browned. The picture below is when the onions are just beginning to brown.

Chopped onions browning in a pot

  • Lower heat to medium, add garlic, ginger and green chillies. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add tomatoes and simmer for a while before adding in the turmeric, salt, red chilli, coriander and cumin powder.

Pasta with wooden spoon, simmering in potSpices and Passata in pot with wooden spoon

  • Add chicken. Cover and allow to cook.

Chicken and passata in pot

  • Add Dal and water and simmer for another 30 minutes before stirring in Garam Masala and Curry Spice.
  • Make and pour over Tadka (Heat Ghee/Oil and add cumin seeds, dried red chillies and garlic). Cook until lightly coloured, then pour over Dal.

Tadka in pot

  • Serve Dal over rice, or with Naan/Roti.

Chana Dal in pot

Chana Dal in a dark pot
5 from 5 votes

Chana Dal with Chicken

Chana Dal with Chicken -  This is a recipe my mum makes a lot. It is a recipe that always seems to go down well with others too and is so simple to make. It is flavourful, healthy, delicious and gluten free. 

Course Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Daal, Dahl, Dal
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Soaking 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Servings 4


Chana Dal with Chicken

  • 1 cup Chana dal (Split Chickpeas)
  • 2 tbsp Oil/Ghee
  • 2 Onions diced
  • 6 cloves Garlic crushed
  • 1.5 inch Ginger grated finely
  • 2 Green Chillis pierced
  • 250 ml Tomato Passata
  • 1.5 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder
  • Salt
  • 1 lb Chicken Breast chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 500 ml Water
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Curry Powder I use Madras

Tempering (Optional)

  • 1 tsp Oil/Ghee
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 1 clove Garlic sliced finely
  • 2 Dried Red Chillies


  1. Soak the dal for 1 hour to overnight.

  2. Heat the oil/ghee in a large pot. Add the onions and braise for 10 - 12 minutes over medium heat until golden brown. 

  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger and green chilli and saute for 2 minutes.

  4. Pour in the passata and add the coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt and cover. Cook for 15 minutes on low heat. Check in between to make sure it isn't sticking. Add a splash of water if it is.

  5. Turn the heat up to high and add the chicken. Cook for a further 5 minutes before adding in the dal and water. 

  6. Bring to the boil, cover, turn the heat down and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes. You may need to add more water so check in between.

  7. Stir in Garam Masala and Curry Powder and simmer for 2 minutes.

  8. To temper - Heat oil in a small pan pver medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seed, dried red chillies and garlic cook until the cumin seeds colour a little. Pour over the Dal. Taste and adjust salt and spice. 

Recipe Notes

Ghee/Oil - I think with Dal dishes, a little extra ghee makes all the difference but feel free to change the quantity here. I always use a mixture of ghee and oil together. 
Be careful making the tadka, as it's very easy to burn the spices. Don't over heat your oil before adding the spices as they will burn instantly and add a bitter note to the Dal.


Nutrition Label


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