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MASALA SUNDAL / मसाला सुंदल (Tempered & Stir fried Black Chickpeas) – GF & Vegan

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Sundal is a south Indian dish which is made as ‘prasadam’ i.e. an offering to the Gods. So you can imagine how good it has got to be! The sundals are usually made using kala chana (black chick peas) or safed chana (white chickpeas) and sometimes with peanuts. You can use either or both. In fact you can make it with practically anything that you fancy – chickpeas, green peas, corn, peanuts, black eyed beans, red kidney beans, mung beans or a healthy mix of a few of these. Having said that, I feel that black chickpeas with their robust and earthy flavors make for the best sundal. 

I had the opportunity to first taste it at a south Indian friend’s house approximately six years back and I enjoyed it for its crunchy (because of the fried lentil), herby, earthy flavours and of course its simplicity. I did not need to ask her for its recipe since I could easily make out all the ingredients from its taste. I was pretty happy the way it turned out and later a friend told me to coarsely grind the chana dal instead of adding it whole in the tempering and it did make a difference in taste. Although most people don’t do this but I added a dash of lemon to give it a zing and it kind of wraps up the whole thing so well. This recipe is perfect for an evening snack since it is packed with protein and iron. Delicious and nutritious! 

For Chana

1 C (200 grams) Kala Chana (Black Chick Peas)

¼ tsp Salt

For masala

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp Chana dal

1 tsp whole Coriander Seeds

1 dry whole Red Chili

1 tsp grated Coconut

For tempering

2 tbsp Oil

A small pinch Heeng (Asafoetida)

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

2 dry whole Red Chilies (broken into 2 – 3 pieces)

1 tsp Urad Dal (Ivory Lentils)

A sprig Curry Leaves

1 tbsp finely chopped, fresh Coriander (cilantro)

1 tbsp finely shredded, fresh Coconut

2 – 3 tsp Lemon juice (optional)

Pick and wish the kala chana and soak it enough water for at least eight hours (preferably over night).

Discard the water and transfer the chana in to a pressure cooker. Add a glass of water and salt. Pressure cook till two whistles escape.

The pressure cooker off the heat and wait for the pressure to get released on its own. Drain the chana and set aside. (you can reserve the water instead of draining it and use it for curries or pulav)

Meanwhile, dry toast the first three ingredients of the masala will the chana dals begins to turn golden. Add the grated coconut and roast further for a minute or two or till the chana dal begins to turn golden brown.

Cool the masala and grind it to a coarse powder in a spice mixer or grinder. Keep aside.

Take on in a wok or pan and add the oil. Heat the oil and add heeng, fry for a few seconds or till it becomes aromatic and golden brown.

Add mustard seeds, broken red chilies and urad dal. Fry till the dal turns golden brown. Add curry leaves and add the chana along with the masala. Add a little salt as well.

Stir everything well. Remove from heat and add the fresh coriander, fresh coconut and lemon juice. Mix well.

Masala sundal is ready to be served as a snack or to be used as prashad.

Serves – 4 (as snack)

Thanks for visiting. See you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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(This is an updated post that I had uploaded over five years back. I had managed to lose all the photos there were on the blog. I could retrieve some from my archives but lost a lot many of them. So here is the post along with the pics of the dal) Chana daal is made from black chick peas. Rather skinless and split black chick peas, commonly called Bengal gram, is what chana dal is made of. Chana Dal is great for stews and yields rich creamy taste when slow cooked. It is usually preferred in north during the winters since it is supposed to keep your body warm while bottle gourd is a summer squash known for its cooling effect on the body. Chana daal brings out the best in bottle gourd and as a matter of fact an amalgamation of the two results in a creamy and tasty daal. Bottle gourd is rich in minerals and this summer vegetable is high in water therefore considered to be light on the digestive system. It is quite a bland vegetable so it needs plenty of support from other ingredients/ spices and a healthy dose of chillies to make it taste good. Many people consume its juice since it is believed to help reduce weight. We use it for making kofta curry, fritters, kheer and also add it to yogurt during summers.

Read more about this vegetable here

Here is an easy and tasty recipe:

For Daal:

¾ cup Chana daal

125 grams / 1 cup diced Bottle Gourd (diced in small pieces)

500 ml water

Salt to taste

½ tsp chili powder (adjust to taste)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 small Bay Leaf

For tempering:

1 tbsp Oil

¼ tsp Cumin Seeds

2 dry Whole dry Red Chillies

1 Bay Leaf

1/3 C/ medium size Onion

½ tsp finely chopped, Ginger

1 medium Tomato

½ tsp Coriander Powder

2 tsp Ghee

2 tsp finely chopped, Garlic

½ tsp Garam Masala powder

1 – 2 tbsp chopped Fresh Coriander

Pick and wash the dal and soak it in enough water for half an hour.

In a pressure cooker put together all the ingredients written under ‘for daal’ category. Pressure cook till the cooker gives two pressure whistles. Turn of the heat. Remove the pressure cooker from heat. Let the pressure get released on its own.

The daal and bottle gourd will look watery at this stage.

For tempering, heat the oil and on medium heat add cumin seeds along with dry chillies. Once the cumin starts to crackle and red chillies take on a darker shade, add bay leaf along with onion and ginger. Sauté till they become golden brown.

Now, add grated tomato, coriander powder and stir the contents for half a minute or till the masala releases oil towards the edges. Add this tempering to the daal and stir it in.

Keep the daal again over fire on high flame and once it starts boiling, reduce the flame and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes or till the contents are all well assimilated and look creamy. Switch off the heat and remove the dal from heat. Scroll down for details on the final tempering…

In a small pan, take ghee and heat it on medium heat. Add garlic and fry till it turns golden brown. Add this tempering to the dal. Add garam masala along with it and gently stir the dal.

Transfer the daal to a serving bowl.

Garnish the dal with fresh coriander.

AND! To relish this dal the typical Punjabi way, drizzle ghee over the dal before serving. ENJOY!

Note: Make the daal at least half an hour before you intend to serve it. This daal needs some resting time to let its consistency become creamy. If the daal turns thick, boil some water and add it to the daal.

Serves 4 – 6


KHATTI MEETHI DAL / खट्टी-मीठी दाल (Sweet & Sour Lentil Soup)



The most wonderful feeling after a holiday, for me, is the feeling of being back home. The comfort of one’s own house and one’s routine, even though mundane, is unsurpassable. This year I didn’t take a break from the blog which I usually do around Diwali. Instead, this year, I prepared the posts in advance and kept uploading them from where ever I travelled while meeting friends and family. It so happened that a few weeks before Diwali a friend casually remarked that I take too many breaks from blogging and sometimes I simply disappear from my blog for weeks. I mulled over his words and realised that he was quite right. I have been doing the disappearing act quite often and although most of the times, the ‘breaks’ have been unplanned and unintentional but they do affect my blog and me in the process. The circumstances force me into phases of inaction and then it takes me a few more days to switch on my ‘get into action mode’ button. My target is always to upload five recipes a month and an extra one is a huge bonus; although that rarely happens. And talking about five posts a month, I yet again managed to skip a post scheduled for the 3rd of this month. Some things never changedo they!?

While the weather in north had begun to change with a nip in the air in mornings, here the weather doesn’t go through much change. Nonetheless a bowl of this dal or lentil soup is something that I can have irrespective of the weather being hot, warm or cold. Lentil soups are easy, wholesome, and fast to make; even more so if you pressure cook the lentils. There is something about the sweet and sour flavours of this particular soup which is so compelling that the palate never seems to get gratified. You keep on spooning more and more mouthfuls of it, hoping that this soupy bliss never ends. Perhaps it has got something to do with the pungent earthy flavors of its tempering. Why not try it for yourself and figure it out! You can enjoy it as a soup or the typical Indian way, which is, with a bowl of rice and a side dish. For a change, try pairing it with Papad instead of a loaf of good ol’ rustic bread. You can use what ever tempering you wish to add to this soup. For those who do not like the pungent flavors of garlic can opt for finely chopped shallots and minced ginger.


½ C Toor Dal/ Arhar Dal (Split Pigeon Peas)

2C Water

¼ tsp Turmeric powder

½ tsp Red Chili powder (adjust heat +/-)

Salt to taste (I used ½ tsp)

1st Tempering:

2 tsp Oil

½ tsp Mustard Seeds

½ tsp Cumin Seeds

¼ tsp Asafoetida Powder (mine isn’t too strong)

7-8 Curry Leaves

½ tsp Coriander Powder

1 tsp, levelled, Tamarind Paste (adjust to taste +/-)

1 tbsp Palm Sugar (Gur Shakkar) or Jaggery (adjust to taste +/-)


2nd Tempering:

1½ tsp Ghee

1 tsp chopped Garlic

¼ tsp Degi Mirch, optional (to add color to the tempering)

Pick & wash the dal and transfer to a pressure cooker. Put the pressure cooker on stove top, switch on the heat and add water to the dal along with salt, turmeric powder and red chili powder. Allow the dal to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to minimum and fit the lid over the pressure cooker. Cook on low flame for 5 – 7 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the dal sit in the cooker (do not try open the lid) till the pressure has worn off. Open the pressure cooker and mash the dal with the potato masher or back of a big spoon. Keep aside.

For the first tempering: The whole process of tempering will take just a few seconds so keep all the measured ingredients ready with you. Heat oil a small pan and once it begins to get hot, reduce the heat and add asafoetida powder. Bring the heat to medium and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, add the curry leaves (be careful when you add curry leaves as they will splutter oil). Add the coriander powder and cook it only for a second or two since the oil is hot and can burn the coriander powder. Add this to the lentils and stir well.

Add the tamarind (I dilute it with water) and the palm sugar. I strongly advise you add the palm sugar and tamarind little by little so as to adjust the sweetness and sourness according to your taste. The quantity mentioned here is how we like it.

For second tempering: Take ghee in a small pan and heat it. Add the chopped garlic and fry on a low heat till it becomes aromatic. I prefer to turn the garlic golden brown. Switch off the heat and add the degi mirch. Add this to the dal and stir again. (this tempering is visible in the pics) I usually add half of it to the dal and the rest I divide equally to garnish the dal before serving.

Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve hot.

Yield: serves 3


You may also like to check out these recipes:

 Lauki wali Chana Dal (Split Bengal Gram w/ Bottle Gourd)

Fox Nut Seeds Soup w/ Brown Butter Lentil Tempering

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Thanks for visiting and see you soon again

Yours truly got lucky and won the OCTOBER’S YBR at Nancy’s blog.