Chana daal with lauki – Split chickpea lentils cooked with bottle gourd

Lauki daal

This recipe is mellow with subtle flavours of cloves and cumin, and incredibly tasty. You can eat it with rice or chapatti depending on the consistency of the daal.

This is from chef Radhikah of Radikal Kitchen and is her mum’s recipe.

Serves 4



  • Chana dal/ Split chickpea – 1 cup (rinse, soak the dal for 45 min – 1 hour to soften it)
  • 3-4 cloves
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar – pinch
  • Bottle gourd – 2 cups, chopped
  • 1 large onion – finely chopped
  • Water – 4 cups
  • Coriander leaves to garnish


  • Ghee – 2 tablespoons
  • Cumin seeds 1 tsp
  • 3-4 red chillies
  1. Cook the daal with the salt, cloves, turmeric powder and sugar until 70% done. I
    normally use a pressure cooker to cook my daals. So it takes about 10-12 minutes
    for this to cook.
  2. Cool the daal. Then add the chopped bottle gourd to the semi cooked daal and cook
    for another 5 minutes until done. Add some water if it is very thick.
  3. In a separate pan, heat the ghee, add the red chillies
  4. Add the chopped onions and sauté until deep golden brown. Add this to the lentils.
  5. To temper the daal: Heat ghee, when hot add the cumin seeds and red chillies.
  6. Pour over the daal
  7. Mix well. Garnish with the chopped coriander leaves.
A side note on tempering

Tempering is a flavour enhancing techniques to jazz up daals in an instant, and is fairly unique to Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan cooking. For daals this is typically done at the end of the cooking process.

The hot ghee/butter/oil extracts the flavours of the whole spices to infuse the oil. The hot fat locks and retains the flavour of the spices and when this spice-infused fat, is added to the dish it intensifies the flavour of the dish multifold.

It is a rapid process and takes a couple of minutes. It is the grand finale of the dish. There are lots of variations and ways to temper the daals, including baghar, tadka, chonk, podhni and thalipu.

How to temper:

  1. Heat oil/ghee /butter in small pan until hot. The oil should be hot enough to make the spices sizzle and dance.
  2. First to go are whole spices, dry red chillies, lentils – depending on what you are using.
  3. South Indian tadkas often add fresh curry leaves. Those can be added right after the mustard seeds (they splatter, so one has to be careful).
  4. The general rule of thumb is to put spices that burn easily in the end.