If you are Indian, chances are you’ve had this dal. In fact, I’d bet on it. There are certain vegetables that nearly all Indian parents seem to love because of their expected health benefits. Lauki is one of them.
And lauki + chana dal just so happens to be a very popular combination.
Like my simple green moong dal or my palak dal, this too is one you won’t find in any Indian restaurant. I mean, lauki dal is the kind of dal that most kids were probably forced to eat growing up. It’s one of those dals I didn’t care for as a child but absolutely crave as an adult (kind of like how I feel about rajma).
Lauki chana dal is a soul-soothing, heart-hugging kind of dal. Yes, eating this dal is basically the equivalent of a heart hug (you know a hug so good you feel it in your heart? it’s a thing.).
This everyday comforting chana dal is made even simpler thanks to my pre-made onion masala. I have a whole onion masala series on the blog where I share recipes calling for exact amounts of this masala – no thinking required. Just make the masala one day, then make pour and cook recipes for busy weeknights to come. Recipes like this ultra comforting lauki chana dal. 😋
What is lauki? What does it taste like?
When I say lauki, I’m not talking about Loki the Norse god. Nope, not planning on eating that tricky fellow… I’m talking about bottle gourd, silly!
Lauki is known by several names: bottle gourd, dudhi/doodhi, calabash. You can easily find bottle gourd at your local Indian grocery store. It’s pale green in color and has an elongated shape.
Bottle gourd is very mild in flavor – it reminds me a lot of zucchini (in both flavor and texture).
Do I need to peel lauki? Can I eat the seeds?
Yes, you should peel the bottle gourd. I think technically the exterior is edible but it’s not going to be very good. It’s kinda like pumpkin in that no one really eats the outside peel, you know?
Can you eat lauki seeds? Yes, you can eat the small and tender white seeds that are embedded in the gourd.
Now if you notice that the lauki has large, hard seeds, that means it’s ripe and you won’t want to eat those but the chances of you getting a ripe lauki at your local Indian grocery store is highly unlikely (lauki are harvested young and are pale green in color).
I personally love the flavor of the tender seeds, they add a tasty little crunch to the dal and you guys know I love texture. The teensiest crunch from the seeds combined with soft lauki flesh and nutty chana dal… yum, I love it a
lauki lot. 🤓
How big should I cut the lauki?
I suggest cutting the lauki into larger chunks so they somewhat keep their shape in the dal. The spongy middle basically disintegrates into the dal when you cook it, which is why I prefer larger pieces. Totally your preference though!
When I make lauki chana dal, I use 2 cups of water but you can use 1 cup for a thicker dal (I’ve tried it both ways, personally prefer 2 cups). You can always adjust the consistency and spice level to your taste.Print
- 1 cup chana dal, soaked for 1 hour
- 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 lauki (approx. 1 ½ pounds), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup (frozen or thawed) onion masala
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne/Indian red chili powder, to taste
- Cilantro, garnish
- Soak the chana dal in cold water for 1 hour. Drain, rinse and set aside.
- Press the sauté button, add oil/ghee and allow it to heat up for a minute. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf and black cardamom to the pot. Once the cumin seeds brown, add the remaining ingredients.
- Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
- Naturally release pressure.
- Taste and adjust salt and cayenne if desired.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve.