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Channa with Toor Daal: Staple Indian Dish

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Three inspirations happened to bring this recipe to life. One, it is very high in nutrients and fibre. Two, I went to Iqbal and discovered they have devoted one wall to organic product. On this wall you will find an array of Indian spices and legumes to please your craving and palates. The best part is that they are all very reasonably priced for organic dry goods, bonus! Three, this recipe has a spice blend called, Bengali Panch Puran. This spice mix is really easy to make as it uses whole spices. I love the flavours and whole textures. Don’t let the long list of ingredients fool you. This is so simple and fast to prepare. Just line up the ingredients and dump and do.

The recipe is Channa Toor Daal. It uses two kinds of legumes, split peas and a baby form of split chickpea. When you cook down these pulses with fresh tomatoes and spices, they basically make a fragrant mush. This daal did not take very long to prepare. I used my 8 litre Instant Pot, a new kitchen toy with which to experiment. I love this thing. It’s easy to throw food in, wait for it to cook, then a fast clean up follows. Bringing food to pressure is what takes the time. There are other benefits to the Instant Pot to be shared at another time.

Here is a funny, not so humorous story with this dish. I portioned it into 4 plastic bags to freeze. One of the plastic bags formed it’s way around the slats of the shelf in my freezer and froze solid. I required some ingenuity to figure out how to get that sucker out! Eureka! I boiled some water, put a bowl underneath the Daal bag on the bottom shelf, got a dish cloth and put it over the plastic bag holding the Daal, and then poured the hot water over and sporadically continued this procedure while hitting with a mallet. It worked! Made lunch with the partially melted Daal, added cooked barley, spinach, cucumber and green apple. Was very tasty. Worth the prodding, banging, and pushing.

This Daal makes enough to freeze and take out for a quick vegan lunch or light dinner. Just make sure you package it in a sturdy container so you can actually remove it from the freezer when the spirit moves you.

Channa Toor Daal with Cucumber Tomato Salad Topping

Serves 4

For Daal Mixture:

1 cup Toor Daal

½ cup Channa Daal

3 ½ cups water

1 large tomato ½ green chilli, slit, or more to taste, optional

1 inch nub of ginger, minced

1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder (haldi)

Pink Himalayan sea salt or other salt, to taste

Lemon or lime juice to squeeze

I add hot sauce as a topping to cooked product. Allows me to add the amount of desired heat.

  1. Place the Channa and Toor Daal in a pressure cooker or a regular pot.

  2. Add Green Chili, Minced Ginger, Tomatoes, Salt and Turmeric.

  3. Mix well and close, place on manual and for 10 minutes of cooking in an Insant Pot. Or, just boil in a medium pot for 20 minutes or longer until soft.

  4. Allow the pressure to release naturally.

For Spice Seasoning:

Panch Puran:

Indian Spice Seasoning

¼ teaspoon cumin seeds,

¼ teaspoon fennel seeds,

¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds,

¼ teaspoon black mustard seeds

Curry fresh leaves, about 10 (found in Iqbal's produce section). No substitute, so if you can't find then leave out.

​You can garnish with Cilantro or make this cucumber tomato salad as I did.

  1. In a separate saucepan, heat Oil.

  2. Once hot, add Panch Poron mix and allow it to sizzle and pop.

  3. Add a pinch of Asafoetida, immediately after that the curry leaves.

  4. Fry for just a few seconds, then pour hot mix into the cooked daal.

1/8 teaspoon Asafoetida (hing), optional Red Chili Powder, to taste, optional 2 teaspoons Jaggery (found organic at Iqbal, major find!) Or, use brown sugar 2 teaspoons Garam Masala or cinnamon


  1. When the Daal is cooked, add the Jaggery or brown sugar and Garam Masala or cinnamon. Heat through.

  2. Allow the Daal to cook for another 5 minutes.

  3. Adjust spices and flavors.

  4. Add a dash of Lemon or Lime Juice and mix well.

  5. At time of serving, garnish with Cilantro or the salad below or both:

Cucumber Tomato Salad Topping

1 cup cucumber, medium dice

1 large tomato, medium dice

juice and rind of a lime

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Himalayan pink sea salt to taste, or other salt

Mix together and chill until Daal is ready.

Dollop salad on top of Daal mixture.

I kept the tomato out and served it along side.

Serve with rice or other whole grain.

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