‘Meal of the Month’ – Thai-style chana dal – October 2016

Over the last few months I have introduced a few monthly features to my site (‘Five Favourite Finds‘, ‘My Top 10 Online Reads‘ and ‘What Little H Did‘). But I’ve felt for some time that I needed one more. Whilst ‘inventing’ our lunch earlier today, as I often do on Sunday’s, I decided that perhaps sharing a monthly recipe might be the missing blog post. The intention is to go for recipes I’ve invented or enhanced myself. Hopefully it will encourage me to experiment more in the kitchen as I always did pre-Motherhood! The meal for this month is: Thai-style chana dal. Here’s how I did it!

Thai-style chana dal

I have made various types of dal before, but I have always used split red lentils. I have always wanted to try cooking with chana (chickpeas) instead though. You can buy them dried, like lentils, from most good supermarkets or specialist grocers. I wanted to make quite a creamy dish because H is still not overly used to spices. There was a dal recipe in one of the weaning cookbooks I had which used coconut milk so I decided to include that.


Key facts

  • Prep time: 15 mins
  • Cooking time: ~40 mins
  • Family friendly*?: Yes
  • Complexity: Low
  • Cost: Low
  • Serves: 4 adults with generous portions
  • Freezable: Yes. Defrost in the fridge or the microwave then heat through

*Refers to ingredients etc. Does not guarantee picky babies, toddlers or teens will actually eat it.


  • 200g chana dal
  • 1 white onion finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 low salt vegetable stock cube
  • 500ml water (some cold, some boiling per method)
  • 200ml coconut milk*
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut in to ~1cm cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 discs
  • 1 aubergine cut in to ~1cm cubes
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil (or olive if you don’t have rapeseed)

You can adjust the amount of spices or coconut milk to taste. Also the vegetables I used were just house faves. You could easily sub in other vegetables.

*Coconut milk often comes in 400ml cans. You can freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray for future use. It freezes well for cooking but does take a day or so to thaw in the fridge.


  1. Heat 1tbsp oil in a large saucepan. When hot, turn the heat down to low, add the onion and cover with the lid (allows onions to sweat and cook slowly to release flavour). Cook for 5 minutes;
  2. Turn the heat up to medium and add the garlic. Cook for 2 mins stirring regularly;
  3. Add the coriander, cumin and tumeric. Stir in and cook for 2 mins;
  4. Rinse the chana dal well whilst the onions, garlic and spices are cooking then add to the pan
  5. Add enough cold water to the pan to cover the chana dal with water. Bring to the boil, add the stock cube and then reduce heat to bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and leave to cook for 10 minutes. Check occasionally to ensure the chana dal is still covered with water and top up with boiling water as necessary;
  6. Meanwhile heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Once hot, turn the heat to medium/low and add the aubergine. Stir regularly so it doesn’t burn; Cook until soft (~20 mins);
  7. Once the chana dal mixture has been cooking for 10 mins, add the carrot and sweet potato. Bring back to a simmer and leave to cook for 20 mins. Once the aubergine is cooked, add to the mixture. Check regularly to ensure mixture is still covered with water and top-up with boiling water as required;
  8. After the 20 mins cooking time, try the chana dal and see if they are softening. If not, leave for an extra 5 mins then check again, repeating until soft.
  9. Once soft, add coconut milk, stir through and leave to simmer for 5 minutes further;
  10. Serve, accompanied by pitta bread, naan or rice.

How did it go down in Casa Watling?

Very well – better than I expected. I served it with rice. Sam gobbled his down and had extra. But to my surprise Little H dived right into hers and munched about 2/3 of her bowl; Given how filling chana dal and rice are, I was very impressed she ate that much. The rest is in the freezer for H and I to have for lunch in a week or so! I’ll definitely make this again as it was a lovely heart meal for a wintery lunch.

The Pramshed
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
My Petit Canard

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About Me

About Me

Hello, I'm Angela. I'm Mum to two small people (5 & 2). I'm a Gardener, am houseplant obsessed and addicted to tea. By day I work in tech and also look after my littles. I'm trying to get our family to live a more sustainable life. I also have far too many opinions...hence the blog. You can read more about me here. You can also follow me on Twitter so you never miss a post. Hope you enjoy reading!

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