Masala Chana Dal—Indian Snacks

Masala Chana Dal
Hi everyone! Today I am going to share a recipe from my childhood that most of us (Indian) grew relishing. I don't know about others exactly but me and my cousins were so fond of this Masala Chana Dal as kids and even today the fondness has nothing but increased only. It is the most popular snack that is sold in Indian Railways, with vendors bringing these in buckets decorated with all the other raw veggies like onion, green chillies, etc. As a kid, whenever we used to travel, I always looked forward to masala chana dal on my train journeys, of course with other stuff on my mind as well. My parents used to be so concerned with the hygiene issues and stuff as you never know how these vendors are making, what all they are adding, etc. but still, once in a while we used to relish this delight. I am still a kid at heart but since I'm in Japan, the Indian snack's scenario has really changed for me due to the availability and stuff, and there are certain snacks like this that you barely can find at any Indian restaurant. So, to curb the yearning I tried making it at home and to my surprise it came out as a super easy recipe with a scrumptious taste full of flavours and left me pondering why didn't I try it earlier! It is a very crunchy and crispy snack and is great for tea time company. OK, enough blabbering of Tales from my Childhood! Let's get started with the recipe. To serve 4, you're going to need:
  1. Chana dal, washed and soaked 5-6 hours—1 cup
  2. Red onion, chopped—1
  3. Tomato, chopped—1 small or half medium
  4. Green chilli, finely chopped—1
  5. Lemon—half
  6. Fresh coriander, chopped—few sprigs
  7. Salt—1 tsp. or as per taste (the actual tanginess comes from black salt, I didn't had so I added common salt)
  8. Red chilli powder—1/4 tsp. or a bit more if you like spicy
  9. Chaat masala—1/4 tsp.
  10. Oil for deep frying OR ~2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil or cooked vegetable oil*
  11. Large steel strainer for frying the dal (it becomes a bit easy, but if you don't have a large one, don't worry just do it in multiple small batches).
*If you're not too fond of deep-frying, then you can also make this by roasting chana dal in oven, see below for steps on how to roast. Personally, I love the deep-fried variant, as I've grown up eating that way and believe me in the end it doesn't even feel like loads of oil on the chana dal, but as always cooking is about palate preferences so do as you prefer, I'm happy to share both ways. 🙂 Method:
  1. Dry the soaked chana dal by spreading them on absorbent paper in a single layer. You can also put another sheet on top of this layer and try absorbing excess water from the chana dal by gently pressing with your palm. Repeat with fresh sheets if needed. We want the dal to be as dry as possible.
  2. In a bowl, or shaker, mix salt, red chilli powder and chaat masala, and keep aside.
For Deep Frying:
  1. Heat the oil for deep frying.
  2. Once the oil is hot enough, put chana dal in the strainer (as per it's capacity) and dip the strainer in the hot oil. Keep moving in between and take the strainer out once the chana dal look golden and crisp.
  3. Transfer the chana dal on absorbent paper and sprinkle the spices we prepared in step 2 of 'Method'.
  4. Do another batch, if some is left and repeat step 3 afterwards.
  5. Once all the chana dal is fried and spices mixed, check for taste.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients, i.e. onion, tomatoes, green chillies, lemon, coriander and give it a mix.
  7. Serve with some hot Chai and enjoy! 🙂
For Oven Roasting:
  1. Preheat the oven at 200°C.
  2. Spread in a single layer on oil-sprayed or lined baking trays, so that the chana dal is evenly roasted, and bake for about 30 minutes. If you have a large oven, you can put two trays at a time, speeding up the process. Remove and allow to cool for about 6-8 minutes and then again roast for 30 mins, keep checking in between as the cooking time also varies on the power of your oven.
  3. Transfer the chana dal in a bowl and sprinkle the spices we prepared in step 2 of 'Method'.
  4. Do another batch, if some is left and repeat step 3 afterwards.
  5. Once all the chana dal is roasted and spices mixed, add about 2 tsp. of oil (extra virgin olive oil or cooked vegetable oil, raw may have a strong smell) and check for taste.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients, i.e. onion, tomatoes, green chillies, lemon, coriander and give it a mix.
  7. Serve with some hot Chai and enjoy! 🙂
Have you enjoyed this masala chana dal as a kid? Which version would you prefer, frying or roasting? Do give it a try and share your views in the comment section, I'd love reading them and getting your feedback. 🙂  

Thanks for stopping by and reading! 🙂

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  • I have a similar version but prefer using chola instead. Instead of frying or roasting, I pressure cook the dal and drain the liquid once it is cooked.

    • Aditi

      Hey, I also use an almost similar method for chole that I prefer with rice or puri. But this version we prefer as snacks with tea mostly! 🙂 xx Aditi