Tag Archives: chana dal


Baked marrow, soya mince & chana dal

Stuffed marrow soya mince

Well here we are and the marrow plants have born fruit and the squashes glowing orange, waiting to be picked.  I use marrows a lot when they are around – cooked with lentils, or in a tomato sauce or baked of course.  Baked marrow is the simplest and provided you bake it covered with the skin for 20 minutes, maybe 5 more minutes after checking with a skewer, and you should have a firm textured marrow with the stuffing in tact.

For this recipe I have stuffed the marrows with soya mince and chana dal cooked with tomatoes and it was as scrumptious as it looks in the picture.  If you don’t have the time to cook chana dal, simply substitute it with a tin of black eyed beans – voila!


1 medium marrow, cut into rounds about an inch and half tall – scoop out the inside pulp and seeds
½ cup chana dal, cook separately before you do anything else!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1½ cups frozen soya mince
1 cup frozen peas
Salt to taste


  • Fry onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent and lightly brown
  • Add chopped tomatoes, turmeric and salt and cook covered for 20 minutes until tomatoes are cooked and soft
  • Add soya mince and peas, cover and cook on low heat for a further 10 minutes
  • Now add the chana dal which you’ve cooked earlier and give a good stir to mix thoroughly

Stuffed marrow soya mince(2)

  • Place the hollowed marrow slices on an oiled baking tray and stuff them – stuff the filling as much as you can and let some of it sit on the surface of the marrow – any leftover stuffing simply put spoonfuls on the tray

Stuffed marrow soya mince(3)

  • Cover with foil and bake in preheated oven at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for 20 minutes
  • Uncover and bake for another 5-10 minutes

Crispy potato based rice

Rice with roast potatoes


This is a variation of one of many Iranian rice dishes and this crispy potato based rice is simple to prepare and delicious with salad or a light curry.

So we just boil the rice as usual, pop it on a layer of sliced potatoes and steam to create a fabulous dish of crunchy and moist potatoes with rice – a simple, appetising dish of rich to be served with either a salad or a light curry – we had it with aubergine with chana dal cooked with soya mince and it was a huge success!  Click here for the aubergine recipe

Aubergine, chana dal & mince

4 good servings


300 grams Basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour at least
4 large waxy potatoes, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt


  • Rinse rice, add salt and boil in a large deep pan with lots of water
  • Good quality basmati rice will take about 3 minutes from boiling to cook – keep it al dente
  • Strain rice in colander and add the peas and gently stir to mix
  • In the same pan, put the oil and 4 tablespoons of water
  • Layer the potatoes on the base of the pan
  • Top it with rice, cover the lid with a clean tea cloth and steam on med/high for 5 minutes, reduce heat to low and steam for further 15 minutes.
  • To loosen the potatoes, place the saucepan in an inch of cold water in the sink for 3 minutes

Aubergine with chana dal and soya mince

Aubergine, chana dal & mince

Mince and chana dal (split peas) cooked in a rich tomato sauce and whole dried lime, split in two is a very popular dish in Iran.  Dried lime can be bought at Middle Eastern or Asian stores or online, click here.   I have successfully added aubergines to this dish as aubergines go very well with soya mince and tomatoes.  Served with plain boiled rice or flat bread this makes a very satisfying and healthy meal to serve to the family! 

I tend to add a pinch of baking soda when cooking any tough legume or bean as this hastens the cooking time – a trick I learnt from my dear Laxmi, who was a loving and gentle second mother to me and my family.


Half cup chana dal, preferably soaked for an hour but not absolutely essential
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 large aubergine, cut into large cubes
1 cup frozen soya mince (you could use dried soya mince too, click here to buy online)
1 medium onion, sliced
3 tablespoons oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 inch piece ginger, finely chopped
1 level teaspoon turmeric
3-4 tomatoes, chopped (or 1 tin of tomatoes)
½ teaspoon salt
1 dried lime, split in two (optional, click here to buy online) 


  • Rinse and cook chana dal with a quarter teaspoon of baking powder – baking powder will expedite the cooking process! Be careful you don’t overcook the chana dal and keep it whole, strain and set aside
  • Fry onions in oil until golden
  • Add tomatoes, turmeric, garlic, ginger and salt
  • Aubergine, chana dal & mince(2)
  • Cover and cook on low with a small splash of water until tomatoes are softened, about 20-25 minutes
  • Add aubergine, soya mince, cooked chana dal and dried lime.  Add a cup of water, cover and cook on low heat for a further 20 minutes until the stew is thick and aubergines cooked
  • Serve with boiled rice or flat bread – why not try this Maneesh I made the other day!



Rice, leeks, chanda dal with roast courgettes

Rice, leeks, chana dal with roast courgettes(6)

Of all the grains available to us, rice and wheat are the most commonly used and most versatile of all.  With a little creativity you can go a long way with rice and produce some amazing and healthy meals. Rice freezes well and any leftover can be produced another day for a quick meal with a side dish of veggies! In addition, there are many different types of rice available; Basmati rice, long grain, brown, black, red etc etc… In countries where rice is a staple, white rice is the most commonly used type, but most dishes can be adapted to brown rice, bearing in mind that the cooking time for brown rice is longer.

A while back I posted rice with chana dal.  This is a variation with leeks which I prefer, not only for the sweetness of the leeks but also because it makes the rice a complete all in one meal.  Roasted some courgettes while the rice was steaming ….roast aubergines also go very well with this rice.  Rustle up a simple salad and you have a meal friends and family will love.  In fact, it is a perfect dish to serve if you are having friends over as the chana dal can be cooked the day before and if you fried the leeks too, all you would need to do on the day is boil the rice and layer with dal and leeks – Voila, dinner is served!

4-5 servings


100 grams chana dal (soak for an hour if possible)
3 cups water
¼ teaspoon baking soda
300 grams Basmati rice (soaked for an hour)
2 large or 3 medium leeks, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon kala zeera (black zeera available from Asian stores or online)
2 teaspoons curry powder
½ teaspoon turmeric
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
3 tablespoons natural soya yogurt (I use Sojade available from health food shops and Planet Organic)


  • Cook the chana dal in 3 cups of water with baking soda until cooked but whole (keeps it shape) – set aside
  • Fry the leeks in 2 tablespoons oil until translucent – about 10 minutes (remove the leeks and set aside)
  • In the same pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and add kala zeera, after 30 seconds add curry powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger, yogurt and quarter teaspoon salt
  • Fry these on low heat for 5 minutes – you may need to add a small splash of water while frying
  • Add chana dal (having drained the water) and gently stir into the spices

Rice, leeks, chana dal with roast courgettes(3)

  • Rinse the rice and bring to boil in a large, deep pan with lots of water and 1 teaspoon salt
  • When it comes to the boil, lower heat to medium and cook for about 3-4 minutes until cooked but not soft – al dente
  • Strain the rice in a colander
  • In a large, deep saucepan put 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon oil
  • Put one-third of the rice into the pan, spoon the chana dal and spice mixture and lay the leeks on top
  • Place cherry tomatoes on the leeks and cover this with the remaining rice

Rice, leeks, chana dal with roast courgettes(4)

  • Cover the lid with a tea cloth and steam rice on low heat for about 15-20 minutes
  • Serve with roast courgettes

Roast courgettes

  • Thinly slice two courgettes (keep the skin on)
  • Drizzle a little olive oil and some sea salt and roast in a hot oven for about 20-25 minutes, turning once
  • You could grill the courgettes if you prefer

Marrow bake in rich tomato sauce

Marrow bake

’tis not the season of marrows in the UK yet but John (bless him) managed to procure one when he went shopping – I think it was Portuguese and very nice too.  I have some growing in the garden but they are nowhere near fruition! John and Maria, my wonderful neighbours and friends from next door were coming over to sit in the garden and enjoy the lovely warm weather we are blessed with at the moment.   I cooked some vegan food and although they are not vegan they love the curries and my cooking, thank you John and Maria!  With some trepidation, I decided to use the marrow (it’s not everyone’s favourite veggie…..)  I racked my recipe database for some inspiration and came up with this.  A rich tomato sauce with very little spice, thickened with some soy mince and chana dal – how could it go wrong??  I was thrilled when they went for second helpings and wanted the recipe. Maria couldn’t believe I had only put some turmeric in it and no garlic or ginger or any other spice.  I did some rice with peas and sweetcorn to go with it and also saag aloo which I know they are very fond of.  A bottle or two of wine and we were prepared for a lovely evening with friends. The only consideration with marrows, as we know, is not to overcook it or it goes all mushy and quite horrid.  I cooked the chana dal separately, did the tomato sauce, added the mince and chana dal and then poured it over the marrow and baked it – it worked! I hope you too will enjoy it and have a go when you get hold of a marrow.

4 servings


¾ cup chana dal, soaked for a couple of hours at least
¼ teaspoon baking powder (optional – this speeds up the cooking time for the chana dal)
1 medium marrow, peeled and cut into 2×3 inch pieces (I used two-thirds of my marrow – approximately 10 inches)
1 onion, sliced
1 tin tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup dehydrated soy mince
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon dried sweet basil
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups water


  1. Rinse chana dal, add 3 cups of water and  ¼ teaspoon baking powder. Cover and simmer gently until cooked but not mushy.  Strain the dal in a colander and set aside
  2. Fry the onion in 2 tablespoons oil until golden
  3. Add turmeric, salt and tin of tomatoes
  4. Add 3 cups of water, bring to the boil and lower the heat.  Cover and simmer for about 25 minutes
  5. Add soy mince and chana dal and cook uncovered over medium heat for about 15-20 minutes until the sauce is thickened – not too thick as we want the bake to be nice and moist
  6. Add the sweet basil and give it a stir
  7. In a frying pan, quickly fry the marrow pieces in 1 tablespoon of oil for about 2 minutes – this will seal some of the juices and keep the flavour
  8. Place the marrow in an ovenproof dish and pour the tomato and mince sauce on it
  9. Bake covered at 200C or gas mark 6 for 20 minutes
  10. Take out of the oven, uncover and pop back in the oven for another 20 minutes until it’s bubbling
  11. Serve with rice with peas and sweetcorn

Rice with chana dal & meatballs


Rice with chana dal & meatballs(4)

I believe rice with chana dal is a Hyderabadi recipe which my mother used to make.  I never really had her recipe but have tried my best to emulate her creation.  She didn’t use meatballs either but I thought it would make for a more complete one-pot meal so decided to go for it and, guess what, it worked a treat!

Remember that rice must be boiled in a large saucepan with a lot of water, a little like cooking pasta.  As for chana dal, I usually add a pinch of baking soda which reduces the cooking time – do the same when cooking beans.


250 grams Basmati rice, soak for 1 hour
½ cup chana dal, soak for 1 hour
Pinch of baking powder
2 onions, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, grated
2 inch piece ginger, grated
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
3+1 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons dried mint
8-10 meatballs (I used VBites available online and from Holland & Barrett in the chiller)


  1. Cook chana dal with the baking powder until cooked but not soft and mushy
  2. Fry the onion in 3 tablespoons of oil until golden brown
  3. Remove from heat and add turmeric, curry powder, garlic, ginger, ½ teaspoon salt and tomato puree and fry on low heat for about 5 minutes – add small amounts of water to keep it from sticking
  4. Add the chana dal, meatballs and gently fry for a couple of minutes
  5. In a deep saucepan, boil the rice in plenty of water with half teaspoon of salt and cook for about 3-4 minutes once it comes to the boil – you need to keep checking the rice and don’t let it overcook, just cooked or slightly al dente is best
  6. Strain the rice in a colander
  7. Put 1 tablespoon of oil and ¼ cup of water in the pan
  8. With a spatula, put about one-third of the rice in the pan
  9. Layer the rice with the chana dal and meat balls
  10. Top this with the rest of the rice and sprinkle with dried mint
  11. Cover the lid with a tea cloth and steam rice for 5 minutes on medium heat and then 15 minutes on low heat
  12. Carefully lift the lid – if it is steaming the rice is ready to serve
  13. Serve with a simple salad …..or

Avocado, red onion & tomato salad

and/or yogurt and cucumber

Mas o khiar(2)