Rinse the chana dal and then add it to a pressure cooker along with 2.5 cups water (20 oz), 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Pressure cook the dal until it's cooked and soft. On normal stove-top pressure cooker, it would take 8-10 whistles on high flame. If using an electric pressure cooker like the Instant Pot, cook on high pressure for 13 minutes. In both the cases, let the pressure release naturally.Set this aside and work on the masala. Meanwhile crush 4 large garlic cloves, 1.5-inch ginger and 1 green chili in a mortar pestle and set it aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the whole spices- cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamom and cinnamon stick. Sauté for few seconds until the spices are fragrant.
Then add the chopped onion and cook for around 3 to 4 minutes until they are soft and start to change color.
Now, add the freshly pounded garlic-ginger-green chili and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the raw smell goes away.
Then add the chopped tomatoes, stir and cook for 7 to 8 minutes until they are very soft and completely cooked. Also add 1/2 teaspoon salt along with the tomatoes.
Then add the spices- coriander powder, garam masala, kashmiri red chili powder and kasuri methi. Also add the cilantro. If you want to make the dal spicier, you can replace half of the kashmiri red chili powder with regular chili powder which is hotter. Stir and cook the spices for 30 seconds.
Now, add the boiled chana dal to the pan along with 1/2 to 3/4 cup ( 4 to 6 oz) of more water (depending on the consistency you prefer). Stir and let the dal simmer for 5 to 6 minutes on medium-low heat.
For the tadka, heat 2 teaspoons oil (or you can use ghee) in a small pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped garlic (from remaining 2 cloves of garlic) and dried red chili and cook for one minute until the garlic starts changing color.Transfer tadka to the simmering chana dal and stir.
This step is optional. For the dhungar method, place a steel bowl on top of the dal. Then using tongs heat a piece of charcoal over direct heat until its red hot. Place the hot charcoal in that steel bowl on top of the dal using the tongs .Pour oil or ghee on top of charcoal. You will immediately see fumes coming out of charcoal. Immediately close the pan with a lid. Let it remain like this for 2 to 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, remove lid and remove the bowl from dal. The longer you keep the lid closed, the smokier dal will get, I don't like doing it for more than 3 minutes. Serve chana dal hot with rice, roti!
This recipe uses oil so it's vegan. But you can use ghee here, will add flavor.
I do not soak the chana dal and cook is straight away. If you want to soak for 3-4 hours, reduce the cooking time.