Chola Ni Dal – Black Eye Bean Curry

This is one of the recipes I brought home from my Vegetarian Indian Cooking course back in January. I’ve been meaning to have friends over for an Indian dinner, but had been putting it off for reasons that escape me now. I took my birthday last month as the occasion to finally cook for my friends again and have that Indian dinner.

For starters I made fried mung dal (mung bean) balls with several condiments, followed by homemade paneer (Indian cheese) which I always cook in a sauce that’s actually meant for butter chicken, chola ni dal, with rice and the chapati I made a couple of months back. For dessert we had sabudana kheer – tapioca pudding with saffron and nuts, which I’ve made successfully before from a recipe by Soma from ecurry.

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Typing this post I just realised why I had put off this Indian dinner for so long – because I thought it would be time consuming! However, I had the day off and – pat on my own shoulder – I have to say I was exceptionally well organised, and the kitchen did not look as if it had been hit by a bomb when everything was done. I was quite laid back, prepping to some music, with actual coffee & couch time in between, just knowing everything would be fine.

The next day, though, I realised I had been so laid back I didn’t even think of taking pictures of the dinner table for my little Welcome To My Dinner Table series. It was all very basic, a mix of round turquoise and orange place mats, with a white plate for the main course, and on top each white plate sat a differently patterned and coloured plate for the starters. Paper napkins in orange and turquoise. Sky blue water glasses, miniature fuchsia and white chrysanthemums in a little vase, and two sky blue candles. All of which you will not see in the pictures here, as I took them a day later. I’d really love to see all the different pictures people make up in their minds reading this…

Enough said, here’s the recipe for the black eye bean curry. I know this looks like a really long and elaborate recipe, but it’s not, I promise! However, note that the black eye beans need to be soaked for 3 hours or overnight (unless you use canned ones)!

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Chola Ni Dal - Black Eye Bean Curry

  • Servings: 5-6
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This recipe calls for a green chilli paste, which needs to be prepared ahead but only takes 5 minutes.

Hari Chutney (Green Chilli Paste)1 bunch fresh coriander
2 – 3 green chillies
approx. 3 cm ginger
pinch Asafoetida
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sugar
3 tbsp lemon juice
50 ml water
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until you have a smooth purée. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

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Chola Ni Dal

250 g black eye beans
1½ tbsp oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 – 5 garlic cloves, crushed into a paste consistency
200 g pureéd tomatoes
1 tsp green chilli paste (see below)
1 tsp turmeric
1½ tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp ground coriander
1¼ tsp garam masala
1½ tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp oil
½ tsp cumin seeds
salt to taste
1 bunch fresh coriander
100 ml cream

Wash the beans until the water is clear, then soak in hot water for 3 hours. Discard the soaking water, add the beans to a pot, and top with hot water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until the beans are soft.

In a large pan, heat 1½ tbsp oil and sauté the chopped onions for a few minutes. Add garlic paste and green chilli paste, and cook on low heat for another few minutes, stirring often.

Add the tomato purée to the pan, then approximately 125 ml water. Season the sauce with the spices and salt. Next add the cooked black eye beans including the cooking liquid, stir well, then simmer on low heat for 3 – 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens a little.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a small pan, then add the cumin seeds. Once they start to brown, add them to the dal.

Serve with a little liquid cream and chopped fresh coriander on top, accompanied by either chapati or basmati rice. [ I always follow Anjum Anand’s recipe for “The perfect basmati rice“.]

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