Chana dal salad is a sweet and spicy Indian salad recipe with yellow lentils and fresh ginger lemon dressing that’s a perfect addition to your healthy meal plan for weight loss!
About the recipe
This is my version of the yellow lentil salad recipe with an Indian spice twist, that makes it the first of its kind! The secret lies in the recipe for lemon ginger salad dressing that is so easy and takes 2 minutes to make.
Most of the ingredients in the salad dressing like ginger, lemon and turmeric (like turmeric ginger lemon tea) suggest that this recipe for lentil salad is good for detox, but you fun-food-loving people need not get threatened by them. It just HAPPENS to be so HEALTHY and TASTY!
Though you have tons of Indian recipes with dal/ yellow lentils, this salad is one of the best summer lentil recipes because it is
- full of nutrition and so you can easily make a meal out of it. It also tastes great as a nutritious side dish for tandoori chicken, fish cakes or salmon kebabs.
- quick and easy to make, like most of my salad recipes. It is perfect for lunch box or as a potluck salad.
- contains all-natural healthy ingredients– lentils, ginger, turmeric, olive oil and any of your favorite salad vegetables or even fruits.
- NEVER becomes soggy since the lentils soak up all the juices.
- throw-in-any-veggie-from-the-fridge kind of salad (that helps you clear the fridge!)
- a salad that keeps well, so it can be made ahead of time and keep eating it throughout the week!
So, first things first, the ingredient that makes a WORLD of difference to this chana dal salad is the chaat masala that we add to the dressing as the main spice. Chaat masala is an Indian spice mix made of spices like ground coriander, cumin, dried mango powder, dried ginger and chili powder. It is used predominantly in Indian vegetarian recipes like paneer tikka and Indian street food like chaats and paneer rolls. This is what gives the easy Indian chickpea salad its characteristic flavor.
Though making this dal salad and ginger lemon dressing is quite straightforward, you’ll need some tips to get it right EVERY SINGLE TIME.
What lentils to use
Yellow lentils (chana dal aka Bengal gram) are perfect for salad since they have a nutty flavor and hold their shape well. That doesn’t mean you can’t use other lentils like moong dal or even red lentils/masoor dal. You just have to take note of the cooking time. You can see examples of these salads in a few minutes.
How to cook chana dal for salad
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the printable recipe card at the end of this page.)
DO NOT cook lentils in the pressure cooker. They almost always turn mushy. I’m saying this because it is common practice to pressure-cook lentils for curries like dal with spinach. For the salad, use a deep pot to cook the lentils. Cook the lentils with turmeric and salt.
You’ll love the bright yellow-colored dal, but don’t snack on them. Not yet. The best is yet to come.
How long to cook different types of lentils
The cooking time depends on the quantity and type of lentils. For this recipe, I have used 1/2 cup of chana dal/yellow lentils and it takes about 20 (if you want the lentils firm) to 25 minutes (soft). Green lentils take almost the same time.
If you like softer lentils, go for Mung dal (split, skinned mung beans) or masoor dal (red lentils). For 1/2 cup, the cooking time is about 5 to 6 minutes. Anything more than that, you will end up with mushy lentils that are great for soups and curries, but not for salad.
Vegetables for dal salad
Once you cook the lentils right and make the lemon ginger dressing with chaat masala, the rest is flexible. Add whatever salad vegetables or fruits and herbs you have in your fridge – onion, carrot, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, apple, capsicum/ bell pepper, etc.
Here I’ve added onions (don’t like the ‘bite’ in raw onions? Check out the Italian pasta salad recipe for how to get “instant-pickled” onions), cherry tomatoes, bell peppers/ capsicum and cilantro/coriander leaves.
No vegetables in the fridge? Add the dressing to the cooked warm lentils, sprinkle some dried herbs and use as a filling for tacos or wraps. Or go wild and replace the paneer filling with this “lentil filling” in the paneer rolls. But call them lentil rolls 🙂
Btw, green mango and chaat masala is a terrific combination! Can’t find green mango? Green apple can be the closest substitute.
This (above) is the red lentil (masoor dal) salad I made the week before with green mango, cucumber and tomatoes. I cooked it for 6 minutes and it was soft already. But did you know that softer the lentils, the more dressing and flavor they soak up?
So, I’m still unable to decide which one tasted better. Can you? When you make this salad, please let me know which lentils and vegetables you used. I would love to hear how it turned out for you.
Honey ginger dressing
Chaat masala, grated ginger, chili flakes, olive oil, lemon juice and honey are all you need for this simple salad dressing recipe. Shake up the dressing and drizzle on the lentils while still warm. The vegetables can be added after it cools down.
- Cook lentils with turmeric and salt to get the best flavor and nutrition.
- Add the lemon ginger dressing while the lentils are still warm. This helps the chana dal absorb the flavors of the dressing.
- Drizzle a few spoons of avocado green chutney for added flavor.
What to serve with chana dal salad
There are tons of options to serve the lentil salad. Here are a few examples:
Use as a filling for rotis or wraps and make a meal out of it. Or serve with Paneer kathi rolls.
With Papads or chips to scoop it up as a snack or appetizer.
Serve with tandoori or tikka:
- Chicken tikka tandoori
- Crispy prawn fry
- Hariyali chicken drumsticks
- Tandoori salmon
- Tandoori roast chicken legs
- Salmon kabobs
Make ahead option
This lentil salad keeps well in the fridge for 2 days, but vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber or lettuce should be added only before serving, since they will make the salad soggy.
As for freezing, cooked lentils can be frozen with the salad dressing, but it is better to store vegetables separately. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
More dal recipes
Looking for more salads?
★★★★★Did you try this recipe? Please give a star rating in the comments below ★★★★★
HUNGRY FOR MORE? Join over 1000 home cooks like you who subscribe to my weekly newsletter to get all the latest recipes right in your inbox. Or follow me on your favorite social media: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube. Thank you and happy cooking!