Instant Pot Panch Phoran Channa Dal with Pumpkin
By Preena and Arvinda Chauhan
Panch phoran consists of five different spices that deliver a distinctive punch of flavor—brown mustard seeds add a mild pungency; nigella seeds lend a delicious oniony flavor; fenugreek seeds give a touch of bitterness; cumin brings in warmth and earthiness; and fennel imparts a licorice-like sweetness. This Bengali Five Spice never fails to add excitement to a dish, and this channa dal preparation with pumpkin is no exception. Channa dal as a lentil has a wonderful hearty texture and can handle the bold flavors of panch phoran. When cooked in the Instant Pot, the panch phoran imparts its extraordinary flavor so impeccably well, I don’t think I’ll be eating channa dal any other way now!
PREP TIME:15 MINUTES, PLUS 10 MINUTES for instant pot natural pressure release
COOK TIME:20 MINUTES
YIELD: SERVES 4
- 1 cup channa dal (Indian chickpeas, split and hulled), dried
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoons Panch Phoran (page 49) 1 cup cubed peeled pumpkin
- 1 medium tomato, finely cubed
- 1¼ teaspoons sea salt, plus extra if necessary
- ½teaspoon coriander powder
- ½teaspoon cumin powder
- ½teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¼teaspoon Indian chili powder
- ½teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 cup water, plus extra if necessary
- Warming Garam Masala (page 45), to garnish
- Fresh cilantro, to garnish
In a medium bowl, rinse the channa dal in a few changes of warm water. Cover with fresh warm water and set aside to soak.
Meanwhile, turn the setting of an Instant Pot to “sauté more.” Heat the oil and sprinkle in the panch phoran. Fry the spices until the cumin seeds turn golden brown, the mustard seeds begin to pop, and the spices become fragrant.
Lower the setting to “sauté less.” Add the pumpkin and tomatoes and sprinkle in the salt, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and chili powder. Mix together, then stir in the garlic paste. Cook for a couple of minutes, until the spices become fragrant.
Drain the dal and add it to the Instant Pot, gently folding to coat the dal with the spices. Add the 2 cups water.
Take care to secure the lid correctly and be sure the pressure release valve is set to the sealing position. This is very important. The Instant Pot will register as “on.” Adjust the setting to “pressure cook low” and set the timer for 3 minutes. Once the pressure cooking is complete, the Instant Pot will begin the natural pressure release. Allow for 10 minutes of natural pressure release, then release the remaining pressure manually by carefully setting the pressure release valve to venting. Always wear an oven mitt or glove when venting and keep your hands and face away from the vent, as the steam is extremely hot and can burn! Handle the valve from the side, not from above or overhead. Open the lid only when it is safe to do so, checking that all the pressure has been released first.
Stir the dal, then thin out with extra water and adjust the salt if required.
Transfer the dal to a serving dish and garnish with garam masala and cilantro to taste.
PREENA and ARVINDA CHAUHAN are the proprietors of a Canadian-based company, Arvinda’s Spices & Chai, that sells freshly-roasted, ground, and small-batch Indian and international spice blends. They create some of the world’s premier spice blends, retailed internationally at stores like Harrods in London, and Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma and Sobeys in North America. Arvinda’s also offers cooking classes, and they regularly appear as food experts on TV shows like Cityline. Their book, New Indian Basics: 100 Traditional and Modern Recipes from Arviinda’s Family Kitchen, comes out on November 1.
Excerpted from New Indian Basics: 100 Traditional and Modern Recipes from Arvinda’s Family Kitchen by Preena Chauhan and Arvinda Chauhan. Copyright © 2022 Preena Chauhan. Cover and book design by Andrew Roberts. Photography by Reena Newman, with photos on pages iii, 10, 18, 28, 129, 209, 255, 272 by Sandy Nicholson. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.