Bengali Style Chanar Dalna is a classic vegetarian side dish where homemade paneer balls are fried and cooked with potatoes in a lightly spiced gravy. It's a no-onion, no-garlic side dish that goes great with rice or roti.
As everyone knows Bengalis are hard core non-vegetarian but weekly once we also eat vegetarian which is called niramish. In most Bengali household, niramish (vegetarian no onion no garlic) chanar dalna is cooked on vegetarian day of the week.
Chanar dalna is a simple but tasty dish which is also served to vegetarians in various occasions including wedding, rice feeding ceremony, etc. Homemade cottage cheese is used to prepare this curry and not the store bought paneer. Hence, chanar dalna and paneer aloo curry is not same.
What is the difference between Chana & Paneer?
The crumbled form of curdled milk called chana. It has a higher moisture content than paneer. To make chana at home, you have to boil milk and add curdling agents. The preparation of chana is similar to the preparation of paneer.
However, when you add the curdling agent, the milk curdles and clumps together, which you have to separate from the whey and it is called chana. Now you have to further solidify the chana by putting pressure to make paneer.
Is Chanar Dalna is same as Paneer Potato Curry?
The answer of the above question is no. As I explained above, chana and paneer is not same; therefore you can prepare chanar dalna using chana only not paneer. This Bengali delicacy is a no onion no garlic curry and simple spices are used here.
On the other hand, I have seen in many restaurants paneer potato curry is prepared using onion garlic based gravy. So each has distinct taste.
Ingredients required for Chanar Dalna
Chana: Chana or homemade cottage cheese is the key ingredient of this dish.
Potato: Chanar dalna gravy consists of potato which provides a distinct taste to the gravy.
Green Peas: You can use fresh peas during winter season and if not available you can use frozen peas. Thaw the frozen peas before adding them into the curry.
All purpose flour: Chana balls are prepared and dipped in the gravy. For making chana balls you have to add all purpose flour or maida as an binding agent.
Tomato: I add chopped tomatoes to prepare the gravy. Some people might avoid it.
Spices: I use coriander powder, cumin powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and bhaja masla in this dish. Apart from the dry spices, I have used ginger paste, bay leaf, cumin seeds, and green chilli.
Seasonings: Salt and Sugar.
Oil/Ghee: Usually, I cook all the Bengali recipes using mustard oil and this recipe is also not exceptional. At the end I add desi ghee or clarified butter which gives a nice aroma to the gravy.
How to prepare Bhaja Masla or Special Spice Mix?
This is the easiest and most convenient way to make bhaja masla. Dry roast cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, and black pepper powder in a 2:2:1:1 ratio until dark brown in color. Allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for later use.
How to prepare Bengali Style Chanar Dalna?
Learn to make step-by-step Bengali's favorite vegetarian dish Chanar Dalna by following this recipe. If you want prepare chanar dalna from scratch then start it with the making of chana from milk.
Making of Chana from Milk
Chana is primarily made from cow's milk and used in the preparation of different types of Bengali sweets. A minimum fat level of 4% in cow milk is required to make chana. Buffalo milk is not suitable for making chana as the calcium content is higher in buffalo milk and it results in hardness of chana.
Boil the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Once the milk is about to boil, reduce the heat to low and add the curdling agent (lemon juice or vinegar or any other curdling agents). Stir the milk gently. After that, increase the heat until the milk curdles. Turn off the gas.
After that, drain the whey (don't throw it away) and collect the curdled milk using a muslin cloth. You can tie the muslin cloth and hang it for a while to drain any excess water. This produces chana, which has a higher moisture content than paneer. Click here for details. Avoid over-squeezing it otherwise chana will become dry. We need soft chana for this recipe hence do not hang it for longer duration.
Making of Chana Balls
Place the homemade chana on a dish and mix with the all-purpose flour and salt. Mix everything thoroughly and knead it like it's a dough. Make lemon-size equal balls out of the chana and flatten them with your palm.
In a pan, heat the oil and cook the flattened chana balls till golden brown on both sides. Remove them from the frying pan and set them aside.
Making of Curry
In the remaining oil, sauté the potato chunks with salt and turmeric powder. After they are brown and crisp, take them out on a plate.
In the remaining oil, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds and allow them to crackle. After adding the chopped tomatoes, cook them until the raw smell is gone. Add a little sugar to balance the sourness.
At this stage, cover the pan with a lid and add the green peas.
Meanwhile, prepare a paste using the dry spices turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, and salt in a bowl with a little water. Throw in the ginger paste and green chili and stir thoroughly. After that, add the spice powder paste and stir thoroughly.
Next toss in the fried potatoes and combine thoroughly. Cover the pan and simmer for a few minutes on low heat. Fill the pan partially with water and bring it to a boil. Check the seasoning at this point. When the potatoes are cooked, reduce the heat to low and stir in the fried chana balls. Switch off the gas after 5 minutes and top with ghee and bhaja masla.
More Bengali Recipes
Bengali Style Chanar Dalna
- 250 gms Homemade Chana (Paneer/Cottage Cheese)
- 1 tablespoon All Purpose Flour
- 2 nos Potato, medium cut into 1 inch blocks
- 1 no Tomato, small finely chopped
- ¼ cup Green Peas fresh or frozen
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander Powder
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- ½ teaspoon Red Chilli Powder
- 1 tablespoon Ginger Paste
- ½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1 no Bay Leaf
- 1 teaspoon Sugar optional
- 2 no Green Chilli
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup Mustard Oil use as required
- 1 tableapoon Ghee (Clarified Butter)
- ½ teaspoon Bhaja Masla
- Take the homemade chana on a plate and add all purpose flour and salt into the chana. Mix it properly and knead like dough.
- Now make lemon size equal balls from the chana and flatten each ball using your palm.
- Heat oil in a pan and fry the flattened chana balls till both sides turn golden brown. Take them out from the oil and keep them aside.
- Add potato pieces in the remaining oil and fry them with salt and turmeric powder. After they turn golden and crisp, take them out on a plate.
- In the remaining oil add bay leaf and cumin seeds and allow them to crackle.
- Next add chopped tomatoes and cook until the raw smell is gone.
- Add little sugar to balance the sour taste. Also add the green peas and cover the pan with a lid.
- Meanwhile, take the dry spices including turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, salt in a bowl and add little water to make a paste.
- Now add ginger paste and green chilli into the pan and mix well.
- Next add spice powder paste into it and combine well.
- After that, add the fried potatoes and give a good mix. Cover the pan and cook under low flame for few minutes.
- Now add water into the pan and allow it to boil. At this time check the seasoning.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, simmer the flame and add the fried chana balls into the gravy.
- After 5 minutes switch off the gas and add ghee and bhaja masla on top.
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